I teach German and ESL at SMCHS, and serve as the World Languages Department Chair. I am also the German Club Advisor and the Sophomore Class Advisor. I started teaching German part-time at SMC in 2007. We now have five levels of German, 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 everybody 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. Studying and working overseas broadened my perspective of the world and taught me to be more open to differences in other cultures. So far, I have enjoyed taking four different trips with students to help them grow in their own understanding of German-speaking cultures.
After teaching in public schools in Illinois and Ohio, I taught middle school German at St. Francis Xavier Middle School and adjunct 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, because many people seem to think that it is a difficult and harsh language; in fact, German is more closely related to English than many other languages, and it isn’t as difficult or harsh as most people imagine! Every year, the students look forward to German Club 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. Any student from Level 1 through 5 (middle/high school) is eligible to participate by memorizing a short poem and doing an impromptu dialogue with a partner. Some students just like to help organize the event! The SMCHS World Language Department is also planning a trip in the spring for students interested in a weekend at 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 is studying engineering at Northwestern University. 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.