The Diocese of Harrisburg has announced the seven Catholic school educators who are recipients of the Golden Apple Awards for 2020. The annual program recognizes educators for their outstanding devotion to Catholic schools and the students they teach. The awards are based on nominations from school principals, parents, students and fellow teachers, and symbolize an educator’s professional excellence, leadership, commitment to Catholic values, and devotion to teaching in Catholic schools.
The 2020 Golden Apple recipients are:
- David Geisel – Social Studies teacher at Trinity High School in Camp Hill
- Cynthia Gotowski – Middle school Language Arts teacher at Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Middletown
- Cheryl Green – Second-Grade teacher at St. Joseph School in York
- Jennifer Kukay – Middle school Religion teacher at St. Patrick School in Carlisle
- Susan Martin – Librarian at Lancaster Catholic High School
- Cecilia Mezza – Fine Arts teacher and Band Director at York Catholic High School
- David Rushinski – Principal at Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School
As part of their recognition, Golden Apple recipients receive a $5,000 cash award, a golden apple, and a certificate of achievement. Awardees are also recognized by the bishop during a dinner, plans for which have not yet been announced.
The Golden Apple Awards program was established by Jack and Rhodora Donahue from Pittsburgh in appreciation for the Catholic school teachers who provided a quality academic and faith-based education for their 13 children. The program is made possible by the generosity of the Donahue Family Foundation.
We offer our congratulations to this year’s Golden Apple educators, who shared their thoughts on teaching in a Catholic school. Learn more about the Golden Apple program at https://www.hbgdiocese.org/catholic-schools/golden-apple/.
“Teaching is about more than just educating. After losing the last quarter of school this past year, it has become even more obvious that teaching is also about sharing moments, whether they be in the classroom, watching students perform doing the things they love, or sharing the grace of God. This is what teaching at Trinity, or any Catholic school for that matter, is all about.”
“This award is truly an honor. It fills me with a sense of gratitude to teach in a Catholic school. It makes me think of those teachers in my own life who inspired me to be a teacher. I also think of all of my students who walk through my classroom door who inspire me each day to be the best that I can be. I thank everyone for their prayers and support.”
“When I reflect on my 35 years as a Catholic School educator, I am certain that I have walked in the footsteps of many saints, some who have taught and mentored me and shown me the love of God. They have truly shaped my life. For so great a gift, I am profoundly grateful. In receiving the Golden Apple Award, I will accept it with love and gratitude for all of them.”
“I teach in a Catholic school because I listened to God! He directed my path to St. Patrick School, to share His endless love and mercy with all my students through service to others. That is my mission as a teacher – to provide students with the opportunity to live out the Beatitudes during the school day, allowing them to practice how to be Christ to others and learn to see Christ in others. Teaching at St. Patrick School is a blessing, a gift from God, and I am privileged to walk with each of my students on their faith journey. At St. Patrick School, I am surrounded by our Catholic faith and everything we do is centered on Christ. Where else would I want to be?”
“Reflecting on why I am dedicated to serving in a Catholic school, all I had to do was look at life since March 13, the last day we were physically in the building. Lancaster Catholic was up and running on-line classes the next week, long before the local public schools. As Librarian I did not have the pressures of the classroom teachers to plan and then teach digitally. I have been in awe of my fellow teachers and school staff members who have done so much for the students from day one of the stay at home order. As teachers and staff we have all reached out to the students and their families to try to bring some “normal” to these trying times. In turn, the students and parents have reached out to us with words of encouragement and thanks. The hardest part of all of this has been not seeing the students, my fellow teachers and staff members in person every school day. This brings me to a good place to end; it has been the people – students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents – who have fueled my dedication for the past 42 years.”
“As Catholic school teachers, we have the opportunity to give students the support, care and love they need to get through the day and the faith they need to get through their lives. This has taken on a whole different meaning this spring. Teachers are holding online office hours and classes to connect with and see their students face to face. We quite simply miss our students and worry about their wellbeing. Our school is posting daily prayer and morning announcements, having spirit days like “What’cha Reading?” and holding live virtual school Masses. We have continued to celebrate over newborn babies and pray over those we have lost. We refuse to give up the thing we love most about our school, the community and family which makes us York Catholic.”
“I have chosen to continue to work in a Catholic school, especially Harrisburg Catholic, because I believe the Catholic Church needs to be part of the downtown Harrisburg community. Each and every day, I have the opportunity to assist in spreading the Church’s mission of evangelization to our population. Our population, I believe, is at the heart of the mission of the Catholic Church. Each and every day, I have the opportunity, along with my staff, to work with our school’s population to be sure our families have a Catholic school to call its own.”
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness