Diocese of Buffalo’s Department of Education names 2023 Golden Apple and St. Sebastian Award winners | Diocese of Buffalo.

Diocese of Buffalo’s Department of Education names 2023 Golden Apple and St. Sebastian Award winners

Buffalo, NY, (May 19, 2023) – The Diocese of Buffalo is honoring six individuals for their exceptional impacts on academics and athletics in area Catholic Schools by naming them 2023 winners of the Golden Apple and St. Sebastian Awards.

Nominations were welcomed from all over the diocese, with three individuals selected for each award to represent the north, east, and south regions of the diocese. The winners will be recognized at the diocesan education department’s Character Education Celebration, Tuesday May 30 at 6 p.m., at St. Stephen Church in Grand Island.

The Golden Apple Award is a new honor this year, recognizing teachers who go above and beyond in their school communities by living out the Catholic faith, exemplifying a growth mindset, and implementing creative instructional strategies to build student engagement.

The inaugural winners of the Golden Apple Award are Renee Gaume of Sts. Peter and Paul School in Hamburg, Anna Moran of St. Peter School in Lewiston, and Terri Strassel of St. Gregory the Great School in Williamsville.

The St. Sebastian Award, which returns this year after a brief hiatus, honors individuals who have positively impacted a school’s athletic programs. This year’s winners are Brian Shipley with DeSales School in Lockport, Regina Rhodes with St. John the Baptist School in Alden, and Rick Diamond with Our Lady of Victory School in Lackawanna.

Renee Gaume has worked in Catholic education for 20 years and is currently teaching first grade at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Hamburg. She is known for her creative ability to bring her Catholic faith into all subject areas. Even after 20 years, Gaume is eager to improve her instruction and is passionate about integrating technology into her 1st grade classroom.

Anna Moran is the student support teacher at St. Peter School in Lewiston. The students at St. Peter School love working with Mrs. Moran, and are thrilled every time she comes into their classroom. Her supportive nature makes all students build the confidence to tackle any task in front of them. She is also very involved in the “faithlife” of the school. As school principal Maureen Ingham states, “Anna Moran not only knows her faith, but lives it, in every aspect of her being.”

Terri Strassel has taught at St. Gregory the Great School for eleven years. Mrs. Strassel’s 2nd graders thrive in the supportive, prayerful environment she creates each year. As her nominator, Laura Stachowski, states, “Despite teaching second grade for many years, it is very possible that Mrs. Strassel never taught the same lesson, the same way, twice.” Strassel’s dedication to professional development brings new life into her classroom, and she is always eager to share this new learning with colleagues.

Brian Shipley has volunteered as a DeSales coach for over ten years. An alumnus of the school, he looks forward each year to supporting the boys basketball program. He treats all players equally and focuses on the growth of each player. Shipley is known for leading by example and remains level-headed in the midst of competitive games. His nominator, principal Karen Rahill, states she is “beyond grateful for the positive impact he has had on the boys who have had the privilege of having him as their coach.”

Regina Rhodes from St. John the Baptist School in Alden has been the athletic director for the last ten years and is retiring this year. She believes strongly that all children should have access to sports and she works to bring more opportunities to the students each year. Her passion for sports is never overshadowed by her dedication to sportsmanship and growth.

Rick Diamond has dedicated over twenty-five years to Our Lady of Victory’s athletic programs. He is known for his work to foster a positive, competitive, and inclusive culture during all athletic events. In nominating Diamond, Our Lady of Victory principal Mary Szlosek enthusiastically shared, “Rick is an excellent communicator and motivator, and has a talent for bringing out the best in each individual player while also fostering teamwork and sportsmanship.”

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