Golden Apple winner rooted in faith

Seven educators at Catholic schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have received the 2021 Golden Apple Award:

  • Robert Childs- associate principal, Serra Catholic High School
  • Darci Smith-  teacher, Archangel Gabriel Catholic School
  • Mallory Gurney- teacher, Blessed Francis Seelos Academy
  • JoLynn Clouse- principal, Saint Wendelin School
  • Meloni DiPietro Guthoerl- teacher, Seton LaSalle High School
  • Emily Janocha- teacher, John F. Kennedy Catholic School
  • Lisa Radzanowski- teacher, Ave Maria Academy

The award recognizes their excellent performance in the classroom, church and community. Each educator will receive a monetary prize, thanks to the generosity of the Donahue Family Foundation.

The Pittsburgh Catholic is featuring a Golden Apple honoree each week until the start of school.

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Golden Apple Award Winner: Robert Childs

School/position: Serra Catholic High School, associate principal

Quote: “Without the background and knowledge of the faith, I would not be the man that I am today.”

The first time Robert Childs experienced that uniquely Catholic combination of caring and accountability was in the first grade when he met his elementary school principal, Sister Anne Maurice Toomey. “She…exuded sternness and care at the same time,” he recalled, and “a foundation rooted in the Word of the Gospel and fostered with love and empathy had taken root inside of me.”

From those early years at Saint Kieran Grade School in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, Childs’ faith deepened and eventually led him to Serra Catholic High School, where as associate principal he has received the acclaimed Golden Apple Award.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I don’t know if I could function in a (non-Catholic) school, not being able to share my faith, which is the bedrock of who I am.”

“Mr. Childs is a wonderful mentor to the students,” Father Tom Lewandowski, former chaplain at Serra Catholic, wrote in his nomination letter. “He (helps) them to think things through for themselves, empower them to make good decisions, and share in their joys and difficulties.”

Lisa George, a former administrator with the Saint Anthony School Programs, described Childs as “a humble man. He is a model of quiet strength and strong faith. His presence in the school is a reminder to everyone that we are loved by God.”

Principal Tim Chirdon noted that since Childs arrived 10 years ago, Serra Catholic has experienced a significant decrease in disciplinary infractions. “Academic achievements have increased overall, higher expectations are in place for all students, and special accommodations are in place for students with various needs,” he wrote.

Before arriving at Serra Catholic, Childs served as principal at Saint Wendelin Elementary School in Carbon Center, where he also taught middle school U.S. history and K-8 technology. He began his career in Catholic education teaching 7th and 8th graders at Saint Benedict the Moor School in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

Childs earned a master of science in education and administrative certification (K-12) from Duquesne University, a master of education in curriculum and instruction at Penn State University, and a Bachelor of Science in education from Clarion University.

He is active in volunteer service, working last year as the onsite manager and livestream announcer for Serra’s home volleyball, football, girls basketball, and boys basketball games, and half the school’s musicals. He’s also served as softball coach, led pilgrimages to ancient religious sites in Europe, and taken students to the Right to Life March in Washington, D.C.

Childs has been moderator of the African-American History Bowl and president of the Cardinal Newman Association at Clarion University.

Mr. Childs with four graduates from Serra Catholic’s Class of 2015.