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Over 90% of our graduates complete high school within four years, in a city with an on-time high school graduation rate that hovers around 65%.

The fruits of a faith-based education: blazing the way with ACE*SJU.

Three Gesu alumni graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with their M.Ed.’s in May as members of the first cohort of the new ACE*SJU program. Leya Egea-Hinton, Desmond Shannon, and Shakeeta Parker were among the fourteen recent college grads blazing the way in the new program that serves inner-city students in Philadelphia. Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Pennsylvania launched the program, known as ACE*SJU, in the summer of 2010. Modeled after the University of Notre Dame’s successful Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program, ACE*SJU is designed to train and cultivate teachers for Catholic schools that serve low-income populations. Candidates completed coursework for their master’s degrees in education over two years while teaching at Catholic schools in Philadelphia, including Gesu School.

What would motivate a recent college grad to enter such a service-oriented field? “I want to be able to help people the way I was helped when I was younger,” explains Leya Egea-Hinton ’02, who fell in love with teaching from the moment she started her ACE*SJU practicum. Leya especially enjoys the challenge of thinking on her feet and being creative. After completing her two years of service at Gesu through ACE*SJU, Leya will return here in the fall as Gesu School’s fourth grade girls teacher.

Leya attended high school at The Shipley School and earned her undergraduate degree in sociology at Saint Joseph’s University. She believes Gesu played a critical role in putting her on the path that landed her in ACE*SJU. Gesu School is fortunate to have one of our own molding the next generation.

Return on an investment

Alongside the three Gesu alumni who earned their M.Ed.’s through ACE*SJU this spring, alumna Catera Rivers earned her M.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania through the highly competitive Teach for America program (TFA). This fall she will return to teach at Mastery Charter School, where she served for her two years in TFA.

Catera, who attended high school at Springside School and earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and Spanish at Spelman College, describes herself as “passionate about inner-city youth getting what they deserve,” no matter how limited the resources available. Catera had friends who went to Philadelphia’s public schools and sees her contribution through TFA and teaching as a way to serve her community.

As Catera and other TFA corps members went through “boot camp” in North Philadelphia in the summer of 2010, Catera explained to a fellow member getting acquainted with the area, “This is my home. This is where I come from.” When her colleague asked her what it was that made her successful despite the challenges of the environs in which she grew up, her response was not that she was smarter than others. The difference was, she told him, “I had people who invested in me.” Among those people who encouraged her all the way through college, Catera includes her “family” at Gesu School.

Catera can be assured that she has made the Gesu community proud of her return on their investment.