I teach German and ESL at SMCHS, and serve as the World Languages Department Chair. I am also the advisor for the German Club and provide resources and information to students for the Wisconsin DPI Global Education Achievement Certificate. I started teaching German part-time at SMC in 2007. We now have five levels of German, including CAPP German (dual college credit class through UW-O), and I also teach ESL for our growing number of international students who need some extra practice with their English language skills. It is exciting to be an integral part of their development and life as they seek their education here in the United States. Their host families, the SMC staff and the new friends they make here are all so important to their success.
I grew up in a small town in South Dakota where everyone knew everybody else; I was lucky to be able to be involved in lots of extracurricular activities and feel part of a small, close community, very similar to the St. Mary Catholic Schools. After earning my B.A. in German Education at South Dakota State University, I received the Delta Phi Alpha (German Honor Society) National Award and a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) one-year study scholarship to the University of Augsburg in Germany. Subsequently, I earned master’s degrees in German and in Applied Linguistics from Indiana University, then was selected to teach English to German students for a year in Munich, Germany through the Fulbright Commission. In 2017, I was chosen by the American Association of Teachers of German (along with 8 other U.S. German teachers) to attend a special international two-week seminar in Austria. It was an energizing experience, to learn and work with German teachers from all over the world! Studying and working overseas has broadened my perspective of the world and taught me to be more open to differences in other cultures. I have enjoyed taking several different educational trips with students to help them grow in their own understanding of German-speaking cultures.
After teaching in public schools in Illinois and Ohio for 11 years, I taught middle school German at St. Francis Xavier Middle School and adjunct university courses in German at Marian University. Every year, I attend one or two world language conferences or workshops in order to keep up with new trends in language acquisition and provide my students with a variety of activities to motivate and encourage them. Deutsch ist der Hammer!
The students learning German at SMC enjoy a special camaraderie. Every year, they look forward to various cultural events, like Spaghettieis (spaghetti ice cream), making Lebkuchenhäuser (gingerbread houses) and traveling in December to the German Christkindlmarket in Chicago. In the spring, SMC is the host school for the NE Wisconsin Regional German Speaking Contest for grades 7-12; German students can also participate in the UW-Madison German Day, with competitions in poetry, music, skits and charades. The SMCHS World Language Department also offers a long weekend trip in the spring for all students interested in attending the Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota.
I met my husband, John, when we were both teaching high school in Illinois, and we have one son, who graduated from Northwestern University in mechanical engineering. We enjoy traveling and spending time with family.
SMC offers great opportunities to any student who is interested in getting involved in any aspect of high school life. After teaching in Catholic education now for several years, I really appreciate how service and faith can be woven into our academics and school life each day.