Alumna earns award for starting German program in Dorchester County schools

Jennifer Kraeer '05 with Professor Mohammed Esa.
March 26, 2013

Less than a decade after her graduation from McDaniel, Jennifer Kraeer ’05 was honored with the German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award for single-handedly initiating, developing and implementing a German language program for Dorchester County, Md., schools.

After graduating from McDaniel in 2005 with majors in German and History, Kraeer returned to her home on the Eastern Shore and landed a job teaching Special Education. Kraeer’s love of the German language, which took root in Foreign Language professor Mohamed Esa’s class, remained with her, but Dorchester schools did not have a German program.

And that seemed strange to Kraeer since Dorchester County has a partnership with Dueren County in Germany. In fact, students from the two Dorchester high schools participate in an exchange program with two high schools in Germany – Gymnasium Kreuzau and Gymnasium Wirteltor.

“We were sending students to Germany as exchange students but they had no prior experience with the language,” Kraeer says, explaining that she based her case for German in the schools on her belief that the exchange experience would be much more meaningful for the Maryland students as well as host families if they had some foundation in the German language.

The Dorchester County school board approved the course in German I that Kraeer developed and wrote. It was first offered in 2010-2011 at North Dorchester High School and Cambridge-South Dorchester High School. Now in its third year, the program has been extended by Kraeer to include German II and III.

It doesn’t surprise her mentor, professor Esa.

“Jennifer is one of the best and most dedicated students I have ever had,” he says. “She always wanted to start a program at her school, and I have always encouraged her to try that. Now she single handedly started a program on her own.”

Kraeer couldn’t be more pleased with the honor – but more importantly with the fact that exchange students no longer go from Dorchester County without some understanding of the German language.

“I was very surprised and touched to receive this honor. It has been very inspiring to learn the incredible things that world language teachers are doing across the country,” she says.