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    German school provides education, community to German kids

    German school provides education, community to German kids

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Corinna Baltos | Noah Zielinski and Yannis Murrari work on their lessons at the German School of El...... read more read more

    EL PASO, TX, UNITED STATES

    02.29.2016

    Story by Staff Sgt. Corinna Baltos 

    24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element

    FORT BLISS, TEXAS. - Deep inside Fort Bliss sits a little school. Like the other schools here, this school has a playground, classrooms, and a big yellow bus that drops the kids off in the morning and takes them home in the evening.

    However, this school is special in that is like no other school for thousands of miles. This school is the German School of El Paso, and it has been a part of the Fort Bliss community for 40 years.

    “It is a good tradition to have a German school here,” said Hans-Albert Schuttig, principal of the German School of El Paso. “It allows the children to continue their education while their parents are here, and then, when they return to Germany, seamlessly integrate back into school.”

    Currently there are about 100 German Air Force officers and enlisted personnel stationed at the German Air Force Air Defense Center here. The GAFAD, established in 1956, is the home of the German Air Defense School. The school has about 55 students in grades 1-12.

    Much like its U.S. counterpart, Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS), German Schools are set up in locations where German military personnel are permanently stationed outside of Germany. Currently there are two of these schools in the United States, with the other located in Washington, D.C.

    While German families stationed here have the option of enrolling their child in an American school, many choose to enroll their children in the German School for the same reason many Americans serving abroad choose to put their children in DoDDS; it allows continuity and the ability to continue in their current education system.

    All German children start school, called Grundschule, when they are six years old. After four years they are separated into three different types of secondary schools, (Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium), based on their academic abilities.

    A Hauptschule or Realschule places more of an emphasis on vocational training. While students still receive regular academic education classes, they also receive vocational training to prepare them to work in that particular industry when they graduate after 10th grade. More academically minded students will attend a Gymnasium, where they will stay until grade 13, and then go to a university. Like some high schools in the United States, Gymnasium’s may specialize in different fields of education, such as math and science or modern and classical languages.

    In Germany these are separate schools with different teachers teaching different grades, however the German School of El Paso, due to its size has to be all types of schools at once to meet the needs of its diverse population.

    “We have 55 students and 10 teachers here” said Schuttig. “The children range in age from six to 17, and are in all different levels of education. So our teachers need to be able to teach at all grade levels and abilities as well as different subjects.”

    “It is challenging teaching here,” said Anja Demmeler, who teaches 5th through 10th grade. “In Germany children are separated by grade and level. Here, due to the small student body, the children are together; so I have to be able to teach at different levels and different grades at the same time.”

    Demmeler said the small class size does make her job easier to do because she gets to spend more time with each student and tailor the lessons to their individual needs. “In Germany there are usually about 30 students in each class, so it is difficult to give students extra attention if they need it.”

    The students also enjoy the small class size, as well as the experience of living and attending school in a foreign country

    “There are less students so it is quieter here, and easier to concentrate,” said 10th grader, Max Leiner. He also said the small school size makes it easier to interact with the other grades; especially during breaks when the student body converges on the soccer pitch to play fussball.

    “They all play together,” said Demmeler. “All ages, the older ones help the younger ones. You don’t see that as much in Germany where kids normally stick with their own age group.”

    For the students and the staff, the school provides them with a sense of community and a familiar setting. For Etienne Briddell, the school providers her the opportunity to remain fluent in German. “I have American friends at home, and my father is an American,” she said. “Coming here allows me to remain fluent in German.” Briddell, who plans on attending an American university upon graduation, says the German School has prepared her well for the challenges of American education.

    One of the reasons the students are so academically prepared, is they have some of the best teachers in Germany teaching them.

    “In Germany, once you start teaching at a school you tend to stay there,” said teacher Holger Deinl, during a break from teaching 7th grade geography. “I love traveling and experiencing different cultures. So when I had the opportunity to apply, I did.”

    German teachers apply to the Bundesweher, or German Armed Forces, to be a teacher in a Bundeswher school. Because they will need to be able to teach multiple grades and multiple grade levels, only the very best teachers are considered. If selected, the teachers sign a contract to teach in one of the schools for three years.

    “My family is very happy here,” said Deinl, who has taught here for two years. “We have been able to see much of the United States during our time here.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.29.2016
    Date Posted: 03.01.2016 13:07
    Story ID: 190474
    Location: EL PASO, TX, US 

    Web Views: 1,170
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN