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ExCEL Program
Excellence in Catholic Education and Leadership


Experience the Santa Clara Difference 

Our vision imagines a region and world in which everyone has access to an inspiring education and the psychological tools and support to propel them toward flourishing lives of meaning, purpose and connection.  Our education is characterized by strong values, social justice, transformative education and a diverse community.

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Our Program

This unique program prepares you to be a teacher who knows that education is a tool for promoting social justice, racial equity, and respect for diversity along with academic competence for all your students and meaningful engagement with the communities you serve. 

Guided by Santa Clara University’s Jesuit foundations and the School of Education and Counseling Psychology’s guiding principles, Excellence in Catholic Education and Leadership (ExCEL) supports Catholic school educators through a program committed to developing teachers pedagogically, spiritually, and communally; and working for social justice through educational equity.  ExCEL members work as teachers for TK-12 Catholic schools in the Diocese of San Jose, while also living in community with one another and taking coursework at Santa Clara towards earning a state teaching credential and Master of Arts in Teaching.

Program Details

Service through teaching at a Catholic school

Intensive Support in  learning to teach

Living in Christian Community with other teachers

Tuition-free Master of  Arts in Teaching


Four Pillars of ExCEL

Navigate here to Teaching as a Service

A foundational goal of the ExCEL program is to recruit and partner with individuals who open to a vocation in Catholic school education. ExCEL understands the work of teaching in Catholic schools as a holy mission—one that shapes the future Church and brings about the Kingdom of God on earth. Thus, the program aims to partner with individuals who are excited by and take seriously the prospect of a career in Catholic education, who envision their opportunity in ExCEL as not just an chance to engage in temporary service, but as the first step in a lifelong calling to work with Catholic schools.

Navigate here to Living in Community

Communal living encourages each ExCEL teacher along his/her journey of faith by creating spaces and relationships for members to practice shared prayer, express their joys/ doubts/ fears,and find inspiration in the spiritual practices of others. Moreover, we believe that communal living holds the potential to make us more fully human; that is, living in community necessitates that members practice dispositions—beneficence, awareness, empathy, humility, and honesty—that are the hallmarks of Christ-centered humanity.

Navigate here to Spiritual Growth & Formation

The development of one’s spiritual life is one of the cornerstones of the ExCEL program for several reasons. Much like ExCEL teachers are called to teach the whole child in their classroom, the ExCEL program recognizes that quality teacher education must attend holistically to the development of each dimension of a teacher: their pedagogy, their social-emotional growth, their dispositions, their professionalism, and their spiritual life. ExCEL understands the faith and spiritual dimensions of a teacher as the essential “battery” for powering one’s work through the day-to-day endeavors and challenges of classroom teaching.

Navigate here to Transformation

ExCEL encourages each teacher to look critically at our schools and transform them for justice.

ExCEL Community Partners

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"I can’t help but be full of gratitude for all that the program taught me. An essence of collaboration can be felt within all aspects of ExCEL - teaching, spiritual life, community, and critical transformation. As a member of ExCEL, you accompany your fellow cohort members on their journeys and find that you are way better together than you would have been alone."