As a theology teacher at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Kenneth Scheiber says his ultimate goal is for his students “to learn truth, the right way to understand our place in the universe and what is our place in history.”

“I want my students to become conversant in how to talk about the universe, about life, about God, about creation and how to relate to that creation,” said Scheiber, who has taught at the Southern Maryland school for eight years. “I want them to have an understanding of the faith and the greater truths of the universe.”

Scheiber 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,” Scheiber said of his honor. “I knew that I was being considered, but I was surprised that I was actually a winner.”

During his tenure at St. Mary’s Ryken, Scheiber has also taught social studies and Spanish-language classes. There is not too much of a difference in those subjects, he said.

“They are united by the common pursuit of truth,” he said. “We look at how God moves history – salvation history and broader history.”

He added that in social studies classes, he helps his students learn “what are the right rules by which society should be governed, what make a just law, and what are the best ways human beings can govern themselves.”

Scheiber said that “it would be difficult for me to teach anywhere other than a Catholic school.”

“At a Catholic school, I can walk in and know the Blessed Sacrament is here and ultimately all the disciplines we study can tell us about God and our place in the universe and how we are meant to relate with God,” he said.

He added that since there is “significant overlap” between the Catholic faith and the various subjects taught at the school, “it gives us a greater reason for why we study what we study.”

“Anything that comes from God can tell us about God and help us relate to God,” he said. “A Catholic education is not just about studying and getting a job. It is an education rooted in something much more. It fosters a greater sense of wonder of the universe. It teaches things that are true and can stand the test of time.”

Father Scott Woods, chaplain of the school, said that, “Mr. Scheiber works tirelessly in his endeavor to teach our students about the faith, providing them with a solid catechesis in an interactive manner. He handles himself in the classroom in a reliable and [always] professional manner.”

Scheiber said that “the Catholic Church has been doing education for more than a thousand years. All of the Catholic traditions and Catholic presuppositions of what education should be have a beneficial impact on the human person.”

“The interesting thing about Catholic education is that when it’s done well, there is a full immersion in the faith,” he added. “The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in all aspect of the culture and talk to native speakers. It is similar to Catholic school – being immersed in the faith gives a better understanding of the faith and the greater truths of the universe.”

Scheiber and his fellow Golden Apple honorees will be recognized by Cardinal Donald Wuerl at a May 4 awards dinner in Washington. Each of the honored teachers will receive a golden apple, a certificate and a monetary award.

The Golden Apple Award was established in this archdiocese more than 10 years ago through the generous support of the Pittsburgh-based Donahue Family Foundation established by Jack and Rhodora Donahue, who sent their 13 children through Catholic schools and created the award to show appreciation for Catholic school teachers who provide a quality academic and faith-filled education to their students.