Teacher is ‘all in’ for her students

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

  • Lisa Radzanowski- teacher, Ave Maria Academy
  • 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

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: Lisa Radzanowski

School/position: Ave Maria Academy (Bethel Park campus), 3rd grade teacher

Quote: “Catholic schools have provided me with a strong foundation and shaped the person and teacher that I have become.”

When it comes to teaching, and her Catholic faith, Lisa Radzanowski is “all in.”

“With so much uncertainty last year—a new school, the pandemic—I knew that a deep commitment was needed, and that’s just the way I am,” said Radzanowski, one of seven Catholic educators to receive the diocese’s 2021 Golden Apple Award.

“I am incredibly honored to be chosen. There are so many teachers who are deserving,” she said.

After leading the preschool for a decade at Our Lady of Grace in Scott Township, Radzanowski moved to Ave Maria Academy’s Bethel Park campus, where she taught third graders for the first time. On top of that, she had to pivot to hybrid learning, with most students in-classroom but some learning remotely.

Georganne Henson’s daughter Jessica was a virtual student. Because her father was being treated for a medical condition, she mostly lived with her grandparents and had to be brought up to speed quickly.

“With all the encouragement and support that Mrs. Radzanowski provided virtually, Jessica was able to master this learning process,” Mrs. Henson wrote in her nominating letter.

Jessica’s grandmother added that she “embraced the mission of…service, mercy and love to my granddaughter and to me during these challenging times.”

Principal Lynne Lynch described her as “without a doubt, one of the most qualified, responsible and energetic educators you will meet…truly gifted. She quickly develops positive rapport with her students, establishes solid routines (and) maintains consistent communication with parents.”

South regional administrator Sharon Loughran Brown, who served as Radzanowski’s principal for seven years at Our Lady of Grace, wrote that, “she is a true servant and epitomizes all that we value in Catholic education.”

Added Father Mark Eckman, pastor of Resurrection Parish, “Lisa encourages each student to do their best, not to give up…to recognize their God given talents. Additionally, (she) instills in each child a concern for the other person.”

Radzanowski began her career in Catholic education as a sixth grade teacher at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary School in Pleasant Hills. She graduated from Our Lady of Grace, Seton LaSalle High School, received a bachelor of science in elementary education from Duquesne University, and a masters in special education from Point Park University.

Volunteer service includes the parish festival at Our Lady of Grace, serving attendees at the parish Santa Breakfast, mentoring elementary and high school robotics teams, helping at the Red Door downtown, serving as a science camp director, and as a leader with the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.

Lisa Radzanowski taking a selfie with her students from Ave Maria Academy.