Our committed faculty members are diverse in their educational background and life experiences, well-qualified and highly motivated. Many hold Master's degrees in German and all receive continuing education through the American Association of Teachers of German and Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen (Zfa). 

We are pleased to introduce you to our 2015-2016 teaching staff.  To learn more about our school administration, we also invite you to meet our Language Program Director and Language Program Coordinator.

VANESSA HERMIDA  |  Saturday Krabbelgruppen                                                                                                                              Nothing gives the German language a more charming ring than the Viennese accent! Vanessa Hermida was born and raised in Austria’s capital.  She’s felt connected with the DANK Haus since late 2000 when she joined a German mom and tot playgroup.  Her children grew to now attend Kinderschule.  This is Vanessa’s fifth year teaching Krabbelgruppe on Saturdays and just like kids and parents we are happy to have her in our team!

ANETT ROLLIN  |  Wednesday Krabbelgruppe                                                                                                                                Anett Rollin has been with DANK Haus since May 2015.  She earned her degree in Social Work from Technische Universität in Dresden, where she lived and worked before moving to Chicago in 2005.  Her hometown Görlitz (Sachsen), right along the border to Poland, might be well known to the cineast as it became a favorite background for international movie productions like Grand Hotel Budapest, The Reader and Inglorious Bastards.  After working as a Case Manager and Family Counselor in diverse settings, Anett is very excited about being involved in shaping and developing the DANK Haus Language Program as Program Coordinator. On Wednesday mornings she enjoys to bring out her Ukulele and to sing with Krabbelgruppe kids and families.  Anett is an avid crafter and loves that she can get her fix for all things making and creating when organizing Kinderschule Fundraising Bazar projects and host DANK Haus Crafternoons like Advent wreath binding and Easter egg decorating.

ANGELA PALMQUIST  |  Vorschule (Preschool)                                                                                                                                   We are excited about Angela Palmquist joining us this year as Preschool teacher! Angela is a graduate of the Rudolf Steiner Schule in Basel, Switzerland, which was just the beginning of a lifelong involvement with Waldorf education.  After graduating from Nursing School in Hamburg, Germany, she worked for 10 years at Baxter Healthcare in Munich, Germany in the medical research library.  In 1993 she moved to the U.S. with her husband.  Two kids later, Angela joined the faculty of their local Waldorf preschool in early 2000.  Angela loves to teach children and is looking forward to working with our youngest in Preschool.

NILS SCHNEIDER  |  Vorschule (Preschool) - Assistant

GUDRUN PRIEMER  |  Kindergarten                                                                                                                                                    Gudrun Priemer got involved in teaching in DANK Haus Kinderschule in 2005.  She loves all things books and is passionate about teaching early literacy skills to young children.  After working as a school librarian as well as adult and youth service librarian at Chicago Public Library, Gudrun is currently creating and running classes as well as storytimes for young children at the Skokie Library.  Initially teaching upper grades (5-8) Kinderschule classes, she now has been very excited to teach German through stories, songs, rhymes, arts, crafts and play in our Kinderschule Kindergarten class in recent school years.  Gudrun was born and grew up in Berlin, has lived in Chicago since 1987 and has two sons.

STEPHANIE MEYER  |  Kindergarten - Assistant                                                                                                                               Being the daughter of a parent with a PhD in German Literature, Stephanie Meyer has been well acquainted with the language since birth. Stephanie herself grew-up as a Kinderschule student, so she knows the value of the program and the challenge to wake up "early" on a Saturday morning.  After completing Kinderschule, and being a student of Frau Priemer for 3 years, Stephanie was delighted when she found out she could return as a kindergarten helper.  Stephanie loves working with the little ones and has been Frau Priemer's assistant for two years.  When the Kinderschule is on summer break, Stephanie works at Paper Lantern Chinese Cultural Center, also as a preschool/kindergarten teacher's assistant.  Stephanie currently is an upperclassman at Chicago's Jones College Preparatory.

MARSCHA MEYER  |  Pre-Level 1

VERONIKA ROTH  |  Level 1                                                                                                                                                             After substituting a few times in 2015/2016, we are excited to welcome Veronika Roth back as a Kinderschule teacher for the full school year 2016/2017.  Raised in Lossburg, Baden Württemberg, Germany, Veronika first came to the US in 2002 as an Au Pair.  She returned as an international student in 2004 and earned an AA from COD, BA in English, BA in Teaching of German and MA in Germanic Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Since, Veronika hast taught the German language, culture, literature and history at High School, College and University levels and joined the Dank Haus team last Spring.  As her entire family still lives in Germany, Veronika uses every chance she gets to travel to Germany to reconnect with all her loved ones, her home country, beloved culture and dearly missed food.

ANNA PAJAK  |  Level 2                                                                                                                                                                 Anna Pajak joined Kinderschule in Fall 2015.  Anna is currently a Visiting Instructor of German Language at Purdue University Calumet. After graduating from High School in Fürstenberg (Brandenburg) in 2006, she moved to Chicago to pursue Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Anna began teaching German in the Basic German Language Program at UIC in her second year of graduate school and received recognition for excellence in teaching.  She also taught German and Polish to professional soldiers.  Anna’s teaching experience extends beyond linguistics.  Every summer since 2006, Anna has been teaching tennis throughout Chicago and New York City.  Teaching tennis has helped her with teaching German because learning a foreign language is fundamentally like learning a new sport.  Both are long-term processes that develop a person’s lifelong perspectives.  Anna - a recipient of several academic honors and scholarships - holds a BA in Media and Communications and Germanic Studies as well as a MA in Germanic Studies.

FRANCY MCNAMARA  |  Level 2                                                                                                                                                      Francy McNamara has dedicated her Saturday mornings to teaching German language and culture to Kinderschule students at various grade levels since 1993!  Born in Merzig (Saarland), Francy grew up in Mannheim (Baden Württemberg).  After living in Minnesota and New York she settled in the Chicagoland area in early 1990s with three kids and - recently - Dachshund Kaiser Wilhelm.  As Executive Secretary at Schmolz+Bickenbach - a leading steel producer with roots in Germany - Francy gets to use her native language also professionally. Besides teaching at DANK Haus Kinderschule, Francy enjoys a wide variety of hobbies from literature, sports, traveling, nature, photography and volunteering.

MARYLA TREHAN  |  Level 3                                                                                                                                                                   Maryla Trehan joined DANK Haus Kinderschule in 2011 - first as a parent, then as a teacher.  Before teaching third grade this year she worked with students in 7th/8th Grade as well as Pre-K and also ran reading groups.  Maryla was born and grew up in Weimar (Thüringen) where she studied and worked in nursing since the end of the 1990s.  Since 2011 she has been involved in charitable work including nursing and fundraising as well as charity work for Missionaries of Charities in India.  Maryla has lived in Chicago since 2005 and - besides homeschooling her daughter as well as other children - enjoys reading, sports, pets as well as growing her own sourdough for baking authentic German breads.

HANNELORE SCHÖNAUER  |  Level 5                                                                                                                                              Born in Tilsit (today Russian Federation), Hannelore Schönauer grew up in Landshut (Bayern) before her family immigrated to Chicago in the mid 1950s.  After graduating from High School she worked as a secretary and in customer service.  Hannelore has been involved with Kinderschule for a long time - both as a parent and teacher - and has witnessed the schools’ shift from primarily enrolling kids of first generation German families to also welcoming kids from second, third … generations (heritage learners) as well as foreign language learners.  In 1991, when Hannelore’s son sang in the DANK Spatzen Children’s Choir, she began teaching German in Kinderschule - first as a substitute and later as a teacher in her own class.  Hannelore was a longtime active member of the Elmhurst Damenchor (Women’s Choir) and still remains fond of singing and the choirs’ community.

Miglena Nikolova  |  Teen Classes                                                                                                                            Miglena joined DANK Haus in August of 2015 with vast experience in teaching English and German language and culture at various higher level academic institutions. Born in the town of Vidin, Bulgaria, she began her studies of German at the local School for Teaching Foreign Languages. In 2003, she finished with a BS in Applied Linguistics and Germanic Studies at the South-West University "Neofit Rilski" in Bulgaria. After moving to the Chicago area in 2004, Miglena earned her MA in Germanic Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009 followed by a PhD in Germanic Studies with Concentration in Second Language Acquisition at UIC from 2015. When not teaching German, Miglena enjoys a good book and spending time with her family.

German American Cultural Center
4740 North Western Avenue 
Chicago, IL 60625

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Office: +1 (773) 561-9181
Email: Dank@Dankhaus.com

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
DANK Haus German American Cultural Center does not discriminate based on race, color, sexuality, national origin, sex, disability or age.
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