After learning that her two sons’ teachers needed extra help at their school, Christy Ransom helped them, and loved the classroom work so much that she earned a teaching degree and then a master’s, and taught at a public elementary school in Georgia.

And after she began teaching at St. Peter’s School in Olney, Maryland, in 2000, she never considered teaching anywhere else.

“Once I became part of the family, I wanted to stay,” said Ransom, who is originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “…When I came here, it became part of my life.”

On April 1, her school and parish family at St. Peter’s celebrated with her after morning prayers and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, when the school’s principal, Mary Elizabeth Whelan, made the surprise announcement that Christy Ransom is a 2019 Golden Apple Award winner, given this year to 11 outstanding Catholic school teachers in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Students and her fellow teachers cheered and applauded, and Ransom’s fourth graders held a special banner proclaiming their teacher’s Golden Apple honor on the stage of the parish hall. Ransom shook her head in disbelief, hugged her husband John and walked to the front of the room.

“This honor for Mrs. Ransom is long overdue,” said Father Thomas Kalita, St. Peter’s pastor. “She has been such a source of grace at St. Peter’s School.”

He said that as a pastor, “one of the most wonderful things people can say to you is, ‘Father, how can I help?’ Mrs. Ransom is always there to help with anything we need her to do. We all are blessed to have her as part of our faculty and part of our family.”

The priest later added, “The children love her. The parents love her,” and “everyone who encounters her comes to love her.”

Wendy Anderson, the archdiocese’s associate superintendent for academics and leadership, explained that there are about 1,500 Catholic school teachers serving in the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Golden Apple Award recognizes the best teachers each year. This year, those teachers will be honored at a May 16 dinner at the Mayflower Hotel, and receive golden apples and a $5,000 check, through the generosity of the Donahue Family Foundation.

“It’s a really special award,” Anderson said, explaining that it’s an accomplishment for the whole school community. “Mrs. Ransom couldn’t win this award without all of you students and teachers, and your principal and pastor. Everybody (at the school) wins this award.”

While Ransom and others headed to the school’s media room to do video interviews, her husband John said the award reflects “how she cares (about) and loves the children, and wants to make it fun.” The Ransoms are active members of St. Michael Parish in Mount Airy, Maryland. Their sons Thorne and Brent, who helped inspire their mother’s teaching vocation, are now in their 30s.

In recent years, Ransom has been the fourth grade teacher  at St. Peter's School, and this year she has 14 students in her class. 

“She is very helpful when you have tests or need help with your schoolwork,” said Olivia Cooley, a fourth grader in her class.

This year, the teacher known for getting to school early to help has taken on the added responsibility of directing St. Peter School’s extended care program for students before and after school. In her nearly two decades at the Catholic elementary school in Olney, Ransom has also taught middle school language arts, second grade, third grade, fourth and fifth grade social studies, and she also served as the school’s assistant principal for eight years. She is known for offering a helping hand at school and parish fundraisers and social events.

“She is there when people need her. She will always volunteer and be there for everyone,” said Mary Schaeffer, the resource teacher at St. Peter’s School and a past recipient of the Golden Apple Award.

Schaeffer noted that when Ransom came to St. Peter’s School, they worked together in the learning lab, helping children with special needs.

“She came in so determined to help kids and make learning fun,” Schaeffer said, adding that Ransom, a convert to the Catholic faith, offers an inspiring example at the school. “Every day is a new way she discovers and shares her faith,” she said.

Whelan, the principal, praised Ransom as a teacher who “doesn’t teach from textbooks. She teaches from the heart.”

Explaining her teaching approach, Ransom said, “I would rather have them understand it from their own point of view and connect it with something in their own lives.”

She once used Oreo cookies to teach students about the different phases of the moon. “Then they ate their test,” she said.

Ransom said she teaches in a Catholic school because “this is what the world needs… the children learn through you how to be a good person” and reflect Christ in their lives.

For their Lenten service projects this spring, her fourth graders composed Easter cards for senior citizens at Marian Assisted Living in Brookeville, made 200 sandwiches for the SOME soup kitchen, and collected items for the parish food bank.

“I have learned more about the Catholic faith by being here as a Catholic school teacher,” she said. Her greatest blessing as a teacher there, she said, is “just being with the children, being part of their learning, part of their faith.”

Her classroom includes a menagerie of pigs of different sizes, colors and materials, including angel pigs with wings dangling from the TV over her desk, a Cleo-pig-tra bank with an Egyptian headdress where children contribute coins for their end of the year party, a piglet clock and a pig calendar and mouse pad.

Ransom also sometimes uses pigs to explain concepts in her classes, like the time she explained how to measure a perimeter of an object by using the fence around a pig pen as an example. When she and her husband began dating, he gave her a small stuffed animal pig that she put on her car’s dashboard, and since then, pigs have been her mascots.

“They’re so cute!” said the teacher, who also likes telling her students about the antics of the mischievous pug dogs that she used to have.

Like her students, Ransom has fun at St. Peter’s School. “I’m having a blast! I love teaching at this school,” she said.

Ransom said that St. Peter’s School and Parish is a special place. “I have a priest (here) who is one of my best friends.” She added that when returning to school after summer vacation, “it’s like a family reunion. St. Peter’s has become my family.”