Ten Teachers to be Honored with New Excellence in Teaching Award

May 05, 2009

Ten teachers will be honored on Thursday, May 7 for their excellence in teaching and commitment to Catholic education at the first annual Golden Apple Awards dinner. The teachers were nominated by their colleagues, parents and students and each will receive a $5,000 prize along with a golden apple, pin and certificate.

The 2008-2009 Golden Apple Awardees are:


Steven Bartl has taught math to grades 5-8 at St. Bartholomew School in Bethesda since 1983. He donates hours of his time after school, during his planning periods and at lunch to give free tutoring to students who need additional math help. “Steve has a great grasp on which students are struggling and can quickly help them understand concepts before they get behind in class,” said his principal Kathleen Miller in recommending him for the award.

Jennifer Blaine has taught 3rd grade at St. Michael the Archangel School in Silver Spring since 1985. She has served as the school’s liturgy director for more than 20 years, gives countless extra hours as the school’s textbook coordinator, service project coordinator and produces the annual school yearbook. “She believes that every child has potential and that all children are capable of great endeavors,” said a parent who nominated Blaine for the award.

Father Abraham Feliciano, SDB, has been the director of faith formation and youth ministry at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park since 2007, when the school opened. He teaches religion to sophomore students, coordinates liturgical music, the service program, special projects and assists with student counseling, among many other duties. “I perceive Father as being the primary transmitter of our school’s value and vision to our whole community – he teaches, disciplines, loves, cares, laughs with students, all while embodying a pragmatic vision informed by hopefulness,” said Principal Christopher Maloney in recommending him.


Leigh Hampton has taught 2nd grade at St. Pius X School in Bowie since 2001. In addition to her teaching role, Leigh is the school’s summer camp founder and director and the high school youth minister for St. Pius X Parish. “One of my main reasons for becoming a teacher is to help children of all ages make better, more informed decisions,” Hampton wrote in an essay as part of her nomination. “Her vision includes educating and empowering students to become self directed, ethical and responsible citizens,” said Principal Robert Love.

Margaret Walsh has taught 3rd grade at St. Mary of the Mills School in Laurel since 1985. Outside the classroom, she is involved in the school’s social concerns committee. “She is a person of strong moral values who sets high standards for herself and serves as an outstanding example of living her Catholic faith for our students and fellow colleagues,” said Principal James Pavlacka in recommending her for the award.


Carie Brooke-Ptack has taught pre-kindergarten at St. Mary School in Bryantown (Charles Co.) since 2006. She was instrumental in implementing St. Mary’s Little Angels Preschool program at the school, helping to raise enrollment and is active in all school activities and events. “She is fun, she is creative, she is helpful and she loves her job,” said a parent who nominated Brooke-Ptack. “She isn’t afraid to paint with fir boughs, feathers, bubbles, even grape jelly and you never know what you might find hanging from the preschool ceiling – monkeys, octopi, butterflies.”

Barbara Costa has taught 4th grade at Archbishop Neale School in La Plata (Charles Co.) since 1982. She helps plan school wide and class liturgies each year and has served as the school’s intermediate department head for the past 20 years. “She treats her students, their parents and her colleagues as Jesus would – with charity, patience and respect,” said Interim Principal Margaret Howard.

Elizabeth Watson has taught middle school math, religion and science at St. Peter School in Waldorf (Charles Co.) since 1980. She often gives up lunch and planning periods to work with individual students and tutors former students after school several days a week, rarely leaving school before 6 p.m. In 1995 she contracted a life threatening illness (Guillone-Barre Syndrome). She deals with the side effects of the illness on a daily basis “but never uses any of them as an excuse,” said Principal Judith DeLucco. “She views teaching as a ministry, not a job.”

Ellen Boyd has taught 5th grade and middle school religion, language arts, math and social studies at Father Andrew White, S.J. School in Leonardtown (St. Mary’s Co.) since 1987. In addition to teaching, she is the school’s assistant principal and librarian. “She prepared lesson plans to meet the needs of individual students long before differentiation became the topic of educational workshops,” said Principal Linda Maloney. “She engages students with a variety of hands-on activities and gives them choices in ways they can present projects so they can use their preferred learning style.”

Barbara Skane has taught 1st grade at St. John School in Hollywood (St. Mary’s Co.) since 1987. All of her students, even those with special challenges, read at or above grade level. She organizes parent volunteers and keeps them involved in class activities throughout the year and formed the school’s safety patrol to supervise morning drop-off and playground safety. “She is the epitome of a faith-based educator who challenges her students to their fullest potential,” said a parent who nominated Skane for the award.

The awards will be presented by Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl on May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. ABC 7 TV personality Greta Kreuz will emcee the evening’s festivities.

The award is offered in just four dioceses nationwide. It was created by the Pittsburgh-based Donahue Family Foundation whose founders, Jack and Rhodora Donahue, sent their 13 children to Catholic schools. They established the award to express their deep appreciation to Catholic school teachers for providing a quality academic and faith-filled education for their children. The other dioceses that offer the award are Pittsburgh, Youngstown (Ohio) and Harrisburg (Pennsylvania).

The Archdiocese of Washington serves nearly 30,000 students in 98 schools in the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.

Kathy Dempsey
Office of Communications
[email protected]