Two Catholic schools in Rockville have some of the area’s top teachers, according to the Archdiocese of Washington.
In surprise announcements at their schools last week, Jeanne Donatelli of St. Jude Regional Catholic School and Patricia Quinn of St. Raphael School learned that they were selected 2014 Golden Apple Award winners by the archdiocese.
The award is presented to just 10 teachers from the approximately 2,000 in the archdiocese, said Teri Dwyer, principal of St. Raphael’s.
“I just started crying,” Quinn said of the surprise announcement made April 15 at the school. “There are so many people that deserve this award. It’s humbling to be honored in this way.
Quinn, who lives in Silver Spring, has taught fifth grade at the school for four years, but has taught in local Catholic schools for 25 years, she said.
Donatelli, who lives in Rockville, has a range of jobs at St. Jude’s. She is assistant principal, head of the religion department for pre-K through eighth grade, teaches religion to fifth- through eighth-graders and is an eighth-grade homeroom teacher. She has been at the school since 2000.
“Before that I taught nine years in the public school system,” she wrote in an email.
Donatelli also was surprised to get the news that she was a winner.
“I was shocked and honored,” she wrote. “I teach because I love to teach! Being honored with this award just make the 22 years worth it!”
The Golden Apple Award was first given in 2009 as a way to thank teachers, according to the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools website. To be eligible, teachers must be at their schools for at least three years, be state certified, have a religious education certification from the archdiocese and be nominated by either a student — with parental permission — parent or staff member.
Dwyer said Quinn was nominated by all three.
“She is a teacher who really cares,” Dwyer said. “She is a collaborative staff member who helps everyone achieve success. She knows her students [and] really relates to the kids.”
Donatelli was nominated by Lauren DeZinno, a Spanish teacher at St. Jude’s.
“I am in awe of her compassion and her genuine concern for our students each time she interacts with one of them. Every time she speaks to a student, it is from a genuine place of concern and love,” DeZinno wrote.
In addition to a “golden apple,” a pin and a certificate, winners get $5,000 to spend as they please.
Quinn said she plans to take a trip to see the Northern Lights, a longtime dream, probably next fall or winter, when chances are best for a good sighting,
Donatelli said she doesn’t know what she will do with her money. She said she has a husband and two college-age children.
“As a family we will sit down and discuss what we should do with the money,” she wrote.
Quinn and Donatelli aren’t the county’s only winners: Helene Redmond, an eighth-grade teacher at St. Martin of Tours School in Gaithersburg also is a Golden Apple Award winner.