World language teachers win awards of excellence: German Teacher Claudia Schroeppel


Chelsie Park, Centerfold Editor

On Sept. 5, German teacher Claudia Schroeppel won the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) Goethe-Institute Certificate of Merit, a national award that celebrates and recognizes the work of German teachers in schools and communities.

Schroeppel believes that the award is really about her contributions to the community as a German teacher. “It’s a certificate of merit for my work as a German teacher, not just at our high school, but also generally for the work that I do for other German teachers, for the community, for putting German on the map and events that we do that branch out to other schools,” Schroeppel said. “The AATG has different chapters throughout the nation and each chapter is pretty self-organized and decides what kind of events or activities they want to run.”

On Nov. 17, Schroeppel will participate in an award ceremony at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). “It’s a big organization,” she said. “They do a conference once a year, the biggest world language conference, and all the different types of awards are given out during one of the days of that conference.”

However, upon receiving the notification of the award, while honored, Schroeppel felt a little uncomfortable. “It is really tricky when you first hear that you are nominated,” she said. “That feeling is like, why me? We’re all working on this, so it’s a little awkward because all of these events only happened with many, many, many, many different people working towards them. So at first, I feel like I want to just share this award with everybody because it’s not mine; it’s all of us that have created these events or participated in them. I’m just one person out of hundreds who are helping.”

While Schroeppel recognizes the necessity of key leaders and organizers, she believes her excitement and enthusiasm for these events and for German in general is important in pulling all of these events together. “I do try to really be enthusiastic, and I am enthusiastic about teaching German,” Schroeppel said. “I ooze that out. When I come in, I try to be excited and kind of try to be present for my students.”

Schroeppel stresses that the whole language department is working hard to help students and spread their respective languages and cultures, not just herself. “Generally, I think that at Gunn, all the languages are really focusing on new ways of looking at language learning based on the ACTFL guidelines,” Schroeppel said. “So there’s a much bigger push on what you actually can do with the language rather than what you know about the language.”

Additionally, for German especially, Schroeppel emphasizes the importance of forming a close-knit community in the classroom and creating memories with the language. “One of the things that I really try to instill in my students is to really work as teams,” Schroeppel said. “I want the students to grow and be aware of the surroundings and the people next to them. And I think that is a big change in the class atmosphere because you kind of create a family. It’s really about creating memories and events that you look back at while you’re using the language.”