For Germania Rebaudengo, St. Bartholomew Catholic Church and School in Bethesda, Maryland, is like a home to her, she said. She and her husband, Alessandro, were married at the parish; her two children attended school there, and she started teaching there hourly in 2002 and began full-time in 2005. Today, she is the middle school religion teacher, eighth grade homeroom teacher, and the second grade math teacher.

“I truly believe in my heart that it was my Lord that wanted me to do this, and has been preparing me for this since I was a child,” she said.

Rebaudengo was named as one of the 2020 Golden Apple Award recipients for teaching excellence by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Schools Office. Ten Catholic school teachers across the archdiocese received the annual honor, which is sponsored by the Donahue Family Foundation. 

At the age of nine, Rebaudengo remembers being asked to teach young preschool-aged children how to pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary – her very first teaching experience.

“I go back to that point because it’s after the fact that you can always see His hand in everything,” she said.

God has a sense of humor in how he brought her to teach, Rebaudengo explained. She said it was her community’s need for catechists that led her back into the classroom, even if she was a little reluctant at first because of her lack of experience.

“You feel that pull in your heart,” she said. “So I signed up to help.”

Later, she received a call that she was no longer just an assistant in the classroom, but was teaching the class herself.

In 2005, Rebaudengo was asked to come teach math enrichment and seventh grade religion and immediately she went to her pastor at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown who encouraged her to pursue the opportunity and gave her his blessing, and thus her teaching career continued.

“I have realized that this is what God wants me to do,” she said. “I’m very joyful doing it (teaching), and it makes me very happy.”

Teaching religion to the fifth through eighth grades is one of her favorite parts of her job, Rebaudengo said.

“I love religion because you could just talk about it all day long,” she said. “I truly hope that when the kids leave, they know that they still have to go through a lot of growing up... I hope that with God’s grace that they have a relationship with God that they can rely on Him and rely on our mother Mary.

“I’m hoping that they develop at least the beginning of a lifelong relationship with Our Lord and Our Mother. That is my hope for them,” she added.

Germania Rebaudengo, a middle school religion teacher and second grade math teacher at St. Bartholomew School in Bethesda, said she feels called to teach in Catholic school. (Courtesy photo) 

Teaching math is another one of her passions that she enjoys bringing to the classroom. She teaches various small group math programs for various grades as well as second grade math.

“I hope to make it fun, because I always thought math was very fun for me,” Rebaudengo said. “So I hope that they’re not afraid of it, but that they look forward to try to conquer it.”

As the news was announced that Rebaudengo was a recipient of the Golden Apple Award, her first words were, “Thanks be to God.”

“It is a humbling thing,” she said. “I am very thankful to God… I’m thankful and I was very moved because people that work with me… were willing to do all of that for me, I was moved.”

The teachers had a Chick-fil-A date to celebrate Rebaudengo’s award.

“We are like a big family,” she said. “As teachers, we care about each other truly like family. We, in turn, also care about our students. We know them.”

Frank English, principal of St. Bartholomew Catholic School, said Rebaudengo is a woman of value and is an incredible teacher.

“She has a relationship with each and every kid, and she cares about them individually,” he said. “She is so motherly… and she leads with her faith… and she is tough when she has to be, has high expectations always, but she comforts them and is there for them.”

“I’m grateful that I have this lady working for me,” English said. “I really, truly mean it.”

While school closures and distance learning affected this past school year, Rebaudengo said that although it was difficult and took a lot of work, “at the end of the day, we were able to do it.”

As she reflects upon her years teaching in Catholic education, she recalls the verse from the gospels, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will be given to you.”

“I think if we seek the Kingdom of God first, everything else that we need will be added on to us – everything,” she said. “Everything that you need will be given to you, just make sure that you seek God first. That’s why I think God wanted me to do this in the sense that I need to remind or help people see that it’s not about what we will be when we grow up in terms of what job we’ll have, but rather what kind of people we are going to be… I think that’s why I’m teaching, because God wanted me to remind people of that.”