CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Michelle Morning, a second-grade teacher at St. Michael School in Ridge, receives congratulations from her students shortly after learning that she is one of 10 Archdiocese of Washington Catholic school teachers to be named as a Golden Apple Award winner.
CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Michelle Morning, a second-grade teacher at St. Michael School in Ridge, receives congratulations from her students shortly after learning that she is one of 10 Archdiocese of Washington Catholic school teachers to be named as a Golden Apple Award winner.

Michelle Morning, a second-grade teacher at St. Michael School in Ridge, calls her teaching in a Catholic school “a fluke and a blessing.”

Now in her fifth year at St. Michael’s, the former public school teacher originally planned to continue teaching in public schools after she and her husband moved to Southern Maryland. Morning said she applied to teach in local public schools, “but they lost my application and then a friend recommended I apply (at St. Michael’s). It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”

“The very special thing about teaching in a Catholic school is being able to share your faith,” Morning said. “I can share the love of God and the Catholic religion with students. Being able to talk about my faith with students was something I had to get used to after 10 years teaching in public school.”

Lila Hofmeister, principal of St. Michael’s, praised Morning for her “absolutely wonderful, loving approach to life in general. She creates an environment where every individual feels safe and protected. She empowers students to be themselves as she encourages them to better themselves.”

“During my time at St. Michael’s School, I have found Mrs. Morning to be an excellent teacher who is concerned with not just the academic development of her students, but also with the development of the whole person,” said Father Peter Giovanoni, pastor of the parish.

Morning has not only been praised by her principal and pastor, but was recognized recently as one of 10 Archdiocese of Washington Catholic school teachers to be named as a Golden Apple Award winner. The annual award recognizes a teacher’s professional excellence, leadership, commitment to Catholic values, and devotion to teaching.

The 10 Golden Apple Award winners were singled out from among the nearly 2,000 educators in the Archdiocese of Washington.

“I was very surprised and very flattered” by the award,” Morning said.

As a second-grade teacher, Morning prepares her students for the sacraments of Penance and First Holy Communion.

“I love teaching the kids about the faith. They love God; they love Jesus and they thirst for all that knowledge,” Morning said. “They just keep wanting to learn, learn, learn. And, when you hear the questions they ask and that they want to know more, it helps me continually to grow in my faith as they grow in theirs.”

As a Catholic school teacher, Morning said she enjoys “faith-based instruction” where “we incorporate our faith in Jesus throughout the whole curriculum.”

“In a Catholic school, faith is not a separate entity, it something that can be incorporated into everything we teach,” she said.

“I really appreciate her (Morning’s) dedication, organization and leadership,” Hofmeister said of her Golden Apple teacher. “She is golden all the way the around.”

Morning and her fellow Golden Apple Award winners will be honored at a May 4 dinner. The recognition also includes a golden apple statuette and a monetary award.