Since joining the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Schools Office 10 years ago, a special part of associate superintendent Wendy Anderson’s job has been to help choreograph the surprise announcements of 10 Golden Apple Award winning teachers at local Catholic schools each spring, joining students, teachers, principals, parents and family members in the joyful celebrations captured on video to show at the later awards dinner.

But this spring, Anderson learned that she herself was an award winner, after the National Catholic Educational Association announced that she was one of 27 honorees nationwide to receive the NCEA’s 2020 Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award, highlighting outstanding work being done in Catholic education. Also from the archdiocese, Laurie Maier, a middle school math and science teacher from St. Mary’s School in Landover Hills, Maryland, received that award. Recipients were chosen from among 150,000 Catholic school administrators and teachers across the country.

“I was honored and humbled. It meant a lot to me to be recognized for 10 years in the archdiocese,” Anderson said. “I’ve had so many opportunities to grow and serve the dedicated leadership of the Catholic schools.”

An NCEA press release praised Anderson for “over 30 years of experience as a dynamic educator, administrator and team leader.”

Anderson began working for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2010, after more than two decades of educational experience, first as a Catholic school teacher in New Jersey and Vermont and then as a public school teacher in Vermont. In the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Schools Office, Anderson first served as director of professional development, then as assistant superintendent for curriculum and professional development, and now as associate superintendent for academics and leadership.

The NCEA praised Anderson as someone with a “can-do attitude” committed to Gospel values whose “expertise and ability to develop and implement initiatives in curriculum, principal and teacher growth tools and leadership development for both administrators and educators, together with her extraordinary collaboration with school pastors, has enhanced the overall academic excellence of the archdiocesan schools, particularly those with the greatest needs.”

The national Catholic group added that Anderson “and her team have positioned the Archdiocese of Washington for future growth and success.”

Anderson emphasized that a team effort among Catholic Schools Office colleagues and local Catholic school principals and teachers made those achievements possible. “The key to my success is the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” she said.

Reflecting on that work, Anderson said, “I think we really improved instruction. We provided the tools, resources and professional development to help our teachers excel… I think our instruction is second to none.”

A special gift of her service in the archdiocese has been “being able to work with people who share the same commitment to faith and being able to provide it to children,” she said.

Anderson said the high quality of the Catholic school teachers and principals throughout the Archdiocese of Washington has especially been evident when local Catholic schools closed in mid-March to follow government restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, Catholic school teachers have been providing distance learning to their students through a variety of online platforms.

“Our schools opened online the following Monday. We have not missed a beat in providing quality instruction,” Anderson said, noting that instruction in academics and in teaching the faith has been underway from the first days the campuses closed and continue today. 

Anderson and her husband Tom have been married for 38 years and have three adult children and one grandson. Tom Anderson recently retired as the commissioner of public safety for Vermont. Their daughter Elizabeth Anderson is married and has a 2-year-old son and is serving as an assistant attorney general in Vermont. Their daughter Emma Anderson is a nurse practitioner in Boston, and their son Daniel Anderson works in wealth management in Los Angeles.

Wendy Anderson’s parents Allen and Elizabeth Peppe raised three daughters. She noted that her father, now 93 and retired, worked as a middle school social studies teacher.

“He came home every day and said it was the best day ever,” she said. “…He loved his job and was always positive and happy. He enjoyed his work.”

While earning a degree in elementary education at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, Anderson student taught at a Catholic school, and then at her first job, she taught sixth grade at St. Genevieve School in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for three years.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said, praising the community and the faith-based learning environment there.

Anderson was raised in the Catholic faith but did not attend Catholic school as a youngster.

“I’ve always been active in the faith, and to incorporate it in my work was such a blessing,” she said.

Then for her second job, she taught sixth grade for two years at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Newport, Vermont. After that, Anderson served for 17 years in the Mount Mansfield Public School District in Vermont, as a third grade teacher at Richmond Elementary School and later as an enrichment teacher for gifted and talented students. She also worked for Vermont’s Department of Education before starting her work at the Archdiocese of Washington in 2010.

The archdiocese, she said, “has given me an opportunity to grow. The Lord just brought Tom and me to Washington at this time. We just know it was part of God’s plan.”

Now with distance learning underway in the archdiocese and Catholic schools remaining closed for the time being, Anderson said the Golden Apple Awards for teachers supported by the Donahue Family Foundation will not be presented at a dinner, but she said organizers are figuring out “how to surprise folks in different ways.”