Catholic News Service
Teacher Adela Dinwiddie explains the force of gravity to third-grade students at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, a Notre Dame ACE Academy, in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 24, 2014.
Catholic News Service
Teacher Adela Dinwiddie explains the force of gravity to third-grade students at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, a Notre Dame ACE Academy, in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 24, 2014.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Keiran Roche can fire off the principles of the Alliance for Catholic Education academies without pause.

"We like to use the term animated principle, which is, 'God in all things.' So that drives all that we do. ... We have a shared purpose of making God known, loved and served. And for our students we say our goals are college and heaven," he told Catholic News Service.

"We have our core values in our school that we really like to instill in the kids. ... They're action words that Jesus emulated in the Gospels ... seek, persist, excel, love and serve. And, we feel if kids do these things, that what's going to reach the goals of college and heaven."

In addition, St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, where Roche is principal, the school mascot is Thunder, after the "sons of thunder" nickname Jesus gave the apostles John and James.

"It spells out our root beliefs that the small things matter, handwork pays off, united in Christ, nothing short of excellence, doers of the Word, every minute counts and we're ready now," he said.

According to academy program literature, the three pillars of ACE are "educational excellence, the experience of community in Christ, and faith formation in the Catholic tradition."

St. John is one of three schools in the Diocese of Tucson and five in the nation that are pioneers of a new education model in which the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education, or ACE, partners with diocesan schools in low-income urban areas.