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German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award

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In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and the AATG, the German Embassy Washington has since 2008 presented the Teacher of Excellence Award, highlighting the accomplishments of top-notch German teachers in the United States, who help lay the foundation for future German-American Relations.


Outstanding educators deserve recognition!

Teacher Award 2017
2017 German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award winners (l-r) Rachel Becker, Alysha Holmquist, and Jeffrey Luppes, with Jan Eckendorf of the German Embassy.© AATG

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and the AATG, the German Embassy Washington has since 2008 presented the Teacher of Excellence Award, highlighting the accomplishments of top-notch, up-and-coming German teachers in the United States.

Know an outstanding teacher? Recommend him/her for nomination by the annual May 31 deadline!

A solid foundation for future German-American relations

The prize, especially for early-career and up-and-coming educators at high schools and in higher education, includes a two-week professional development course in Germany, offered by the Goethe-Institut.

Teacher of Excellence Award logo
Teacher of Excellence Award logo© Germany.info

During their stay in Germany, award recipients experience the country anew, gaining fresh stimuli on teaching techniques, culture and society, and the German language. Award winners are additionally invited to receive their prize at the annual conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

The AATG, which administers the award, accepts nominations from its regional chapters as well as the Goethe-Instituts, DAAD, German Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), and the German Consulates General and Honorary Consuls in the US. In addition, school administrators and schools where German is offered, as well as colleges and universities, are encouraged to nominate outstanding educators for the award.

Nominations must be received by the annual May 31 deadline.

Selection criteria include evidence of:

  • 1. Learner-centric teaching – use of student-oriented, open forms of instruction
  • 2. Interaction in the context of teaching and learning – communicative instruction which is targeted at language production
  • 3. Use of new media – audiovisual and electronic media to promote communication skills
  • 4. Intercultural relationship to educational content – e.g. through exchange support or virtual contacts with students in Germany
  • 5. Focus on language competency when measuring performance – promotion of modern test procedures – e.g. use of DSD and/or GI tests in addition to U.S. examinations

For further information about the award and to submit a nomination, please visit: German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award


American Association of Teachers of German

AATG logo
AATG logo© AATG

With over 4,000 members, the American Association of Teachers of German is for teachers of German at all levels of instruction and all those interested in the teaching of German. Founded in 1926, AATG believes that bringing the language, literature, and cultures of the German speaking world to all Americans is a vital humanistic endeavor, which serves an essential national interest.

American Association of Teachers of German

Congratulations to the 2017 German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award Winners!

Rachel Becker

German Teacher/Head of Department, Ben Franklin High School, New Orleans, LA

The German program at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, one of the few schools offering German in Louisiana, is thriving. To see why, step into Rachel Becker’s classroom. Progressive teaching methods such as Total Physical Response, as well as cutting-edge app-based media projects, create a vibrant, engaging atmosphere. Frau Becker, a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ who also chairs the Department of World Languages and as Theater Manager directs students in two to four theatrical productions per year, inspires students, teachers and administrators equally. As coordinator of an annual GAPP exchange alternating between Leipzig and Speyer, she has fostered cultural exchange between Germany and Louisiana since 2008. From coordinating the German Club, to establishing the Frühlingsfeier festival—subsequently adopted by the entire school as the yearly International Festival—‘Frau’ Becker is a force of nature and community leader for German in Louisiana.

Alysha Holmquist

German Teacher, Enumclaw High School, WA

Alysha Holmquist “loves all things German”—a glance at her personal website reveals that whether it’s Bundesliga, Emil und die Detektive, Janosch or Birkenstocks, no one knows and can explain the Germans as well as Alysha. ‘Frau’ Holmquist’s classroom is a highly dynamic place of learning, engaging students through strategic incorporation of new media and authentic sources. Using Twitter, Facebook, and various websites and apps, she ensures that students don’t just think of learning German as a classroom activity, but rather a process that accompanies them through life. In just four years at Enumclaw High School, her boundless enthusiasm for German has ignited a schoolwide passion for Deutsch. But her influence doesn’t end there—her impressive resume and reports from colleagues who testify to her unique facility for imparting German, as well as her spirited engagement as a testing chair for Washington, with AATG and other organizations, speak volumes. Her recent establishment of a GAPP exchange with the Bavarian city of Eggenfelden offers new possibilities for German-American friendships to flourish.

Jeffrey Luppes

Assistant Professor of German, Indiana University South Bend

Ask anyone why Jeffrey Luppes is a standout Teacher of Excellence and you’ll likely hear, “Jeff saved German at IUSB!” Arriving to a moribund program in 2011, Dr. Luppes launched a comprehensive plan to rebuild German at Indiana University South Bend. The program today boasts 24 majors and minors—an impressive feat! But Dr. Luppes didn’t stop there; harnessing the latest technology, he spearheaded a new program connecting the German programs of IU South Bend and IU South East, boosting enrollment and creating a unique intercampus German academic community. Praised by his peers for his innovative teaching style in the classroom, Dr. Luppes is always focused on giving his students the key to the transformative knowledge that comes through deep engagement with another culture. And who should be able to do this better than Dr. Luppes, whose dissertation focused on German monuments and memory? Fortunately for his students, Dr. Luppes also shares his passion for German film, literature, and sports. Students testify to Dr. Luppes’ helpful demeanor, which extends far beyond the classroom. As one student said, “Without you my future wouldn’t be so bright and promising.” The high esteem in which Dr. Luppes is held by his colleagues is revealed by their relief that his family moved to Indiana. Thus, they hope Dr. Luppes will stay on at IUSB and continue to expand his positive influence on the German program for many years to come.


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