Musings of a rooky ‘Schulleiter’
The first months as the leader of the largest German language Saturday school gave me a tremendous appreciation of the effort that my predecessor, Mrs. Monika Matthaes, put into this position. A substantial amount of time is needed to maintain a smooth working relationship with our stakeholders, the Waterloo Region District School Board, the German government representatives, the KVDS (Canadian Association of German Language Schools), the Goethe Institute, and to ensure an effective operation. At the same time I feel grateful for the support from our parents, the local German Clubs, and from my teachers.
Our sponsors are one of the reasons why we can offer what we do. Therefore I specifically thank the TCA (Trans Canada Allience) for past donations, the German government, several local businesses, the German clubs, in particular the Concordia Club, and Sybille Forster-Rentmeister for encouraging this article.
‘My’ teachers offer many opportunities for our students because they not only conduct their classes diligently, but they are always seeking new ideas and/or something special for their students. Anybody who has attended functions of the Goethe Institute or the Centre for German Studies (Expressionism, Fairy tales, Clueso, Brechtfest, etc) would have seen teachers from our school in search of new approaches.
It is truly exciting to see how many experiences our students can have at the Concordia School:
The Kindergarten classes began their year by crafting traditional ‘Schultüten’ (oversized Paper cones), which were then filled with sweets supplied by the Parent Council to start the long journey towards Graduation and Sprachdiplom 2 after grade 12. The grade twelve class is meeting up with them several times for events such as traditional birthday parties, Christmas crafts, and Easter egg painting.
On ‘Nikolaus Tag’ Santa visited all classes and gave away Timbits, because the traditional distribution of walnuts or ‘Apfelkrapfen’ was discontinued due to food allergies in our population.
In two assemblies all students find out about aspects of German culture:
In October we watched an interactive slide presentation of Oktoberfest in Munich and we were amazed by the energetic dances of the Transylvania Club Youth Dance Group.
For April we are looking forward to video clips of Austria provided by the Austrian Consulate, dances by the Alpine Club, and possibly some Swiss musicians.
Our children’s choir has an impressive repertoire of songs, which has earned them repeated invitations to perform for the German Pioneers Day and for the Christkindl Markt audiences. They do benefits at local retirement homes and will participate in the Kiwanis Festival.
Students who wish to develop their computer and/or their drama skills can do so in our enrichment program after school.
Eating and social time is part of our German culture (Gemütlichkeit!). Be it German Nudelfest, breakfast with breads and cold cuts, Schnitzel or Goulash tastings, our kitchen is booked several times each month. Usually there is an abundance of food so that the administration, our secretaries and I, get to taste a few samples. We never refuse!
The adult classes celebrate their morning break every Saturday with coffee and home baked pastries, and they often sing well known folk songs before they return to class.
All of these activities compliment the academic development.
We were very pleased to learn that the governments of Austria, Germany, and Canada have recognized the benefits of young multilingual citizens by agreeing to grant travel and work permits in their respective countries. That provides an additional incentive to independent, enterprising young people who envision travel, work, or studies abroad as part of their life’s adventures.
I am particularly proud of our grade 12 students who are now extremely well positioned to reach for these opportunities:
Several of them took part in the recent first round of the Ontario high school German contest. They earned places 1 through 5 and place 7 in the most advanced category and are waiting for the provincial finals.
Twelve of them participated in the testing for the German Language Diploma II, which would confirm their language competence to directly enter studies at a German University. The German government is so appreciative of their initiative to undergo this rigorous testing that they are giving them the opportunity to win a flight to Germany!
From my point of view it is indeed exciting to imagine where these students may be headed after graduation.
We all understand how long the educational path from Kindergarten to graduation can seem to a student who is ‘toiling’ in the middle grades. Nevertheless, I am convinced that all parents who enroll students in the language classes and the teachers who guide the students through them are giving them an invaluable gift of opportunity. It feels good to be a part of that.
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