St. Philip teacher recognized by diocese with Golden Apple

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Golden Apple Awards is the Catholic teacher's equivalent of the Oscars.

Eight teachers received the award on May 28, bestowed annually by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to recognize exceptional educators. The winners came from a pool of 25 nominations.

Sharon Shipley, who has been teaching for 27 years, said her teaching method is rooted in a steady mixture of education and religion.

“My mission is to let them know Jesus and give them a good social and academic background,” said Shipley, a teacher at St. Philip in Crafton who has previously been nominated for the award.

During the awards ceremony, her contributions to a summer program, which has raised $300,000, did not go unnoticed.

“I wear a lot of different hats,” Shipley said.

One of those hats includes an after school program she started 21 years ago. The program's goal is to provide after-school childcare until their parents arrive. Today, there can be as many as 50 students in the program.

The other winners this year are:

• Christine Rose of Holy Child in Bridgeville;

• Kathleen Beckovich of Seton-LaSalle High School in Mt. Lebanon;

• Beverly Buxareo of Vincentian Academy in the North Hills:

• Roseanne Fairley of Divine Mercy Academy in Beaver Falls;

• Nancy Laird of St. Katherine Drexel School in Bethel Park;

• Donna O'Toole of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Baldwin Borough;

• Judith Stojhovic of East Catholic School in Pittsburgh

The winners each received a golden apple with a 14-carat cross on top. They also received $6,000.

Another winner, Rose of Holy Child, said she feels the most joy when her students progress under her tutelage.

She has been a math, English and spelling teacher for 13 years, and agrees every child is different, But for Rose this is the challenge.

“When you finally see them succeed and have confidence in what they're doing it makes a teacher feel good,” Rose said.

Despite winning this award, Rose is not letting up anytime soon.

“There is always room for growth as a teacher,” Rose said. “Every year I learn something new.”

Ronald Bowes, assistant superintendent for Public Policy and Development for the Catholic Diocese and director for the Golden Apple Awards said the awards are meant to recognize teachers who would not get attention otherwise. He said that despite public and Catholic teachers having the same educational background, the spotlight and salary is usually greater for public school teachers.

“Teachers in the Catholic schools do not have any real recognition because they are not in the public sector,” Bowes said. “They are not really paid the same as a public school teacher.”

Holy Child Principal Barbara Anne Quinn agrees the teachers deserve this award.

“Those teachers are not only certified to do what their assigned to do, but go above and beyond what is expected,“ she said. “Those that nominate them know this.”

The standards for winning the apple are not easily reached. New teachers are not eligible due to their lack of experience. And a candidate has to have at least three years of teaching under their belt to even be considered.

David Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5804 or

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