When it comes to language education in Wisconsin, longtime Oregon High School German teacher Jeff Dyer is at the top of the class.
Dyer was one of two state educators who received the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers Recognition of Merit for 2020 at the organization’s virtual conference held Nov. 6. The award cited his leadership and efforts to provide virtual professional opportunities for German teachers as president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).
“Jeff’s colleagues have appreciated his recent work as co-presenter at WAFLT on topics such as food culture, identity, and refugees,” his award read. “Always asking how to delve deeper than the surface, Jeff tackles the questions necessary to reach a more thorough or satisfying discussion of the typical learning targets pursued in high school. His recent hosting of virtual gatherings for AATG members has provided much appreciated glue to keep his peers connected.”
Dyer, who has taught German 1-5 at OHS since 2004, advises German Club and Delta Epsilon Phi. the National Honor Society for High School Students of German and serves as department chair and global scholars program coordinator.
He also coordinates a biennial student exchange with Oregon’s partner school in Langen, located near the major German city of Frankfurt. Every two years, German students travel to Oregon in spring to stay with host families, attend classes and travel around the area, with OHS students later traveling to Langen in summer.
In a WAFLT news release, Dyer said learning another language “is to learn another culture, another way of life.”
“Beyond the ability to communicate is the ability to relate to others,” he said. “I believe it is important to help students discover that people around the world value their cultures as much as they do theirs, no matter how it is practiced, no matter its origins, no matter its influence or pervasiveness.
“When students compare cultures, they develop empathy, humility, respect and sensitivity — they
develop global competency.”
OHS principal Jim Pliner credited Dyer for helping to organize German immersion experiences for teachers and students as a part of the statewide German Immersion weekend,, He said the school recently being recognized as a “School of Distinction” by the German American Partnership Program.
“Herr Dyer is a leader in the state association (and) he is an advocate for language and cultural learning opportunities,” Pliner wrote the Observer in an email. “As the president of the Wisconsin Chapter of German Teachers, he has been a leader in one of the country’s most successful German exchange programs that has been in existence for 30 years here at Oregon High School.”
Dyer said he’s proud to be recognized for his work to support German teachers across the state during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“Teachers in all subjects are working extra hard to provide meaningful online experiences for their students, but many German teachers are the only ones at their schools and do not have many opportunities to collaborate and connect with other German teachers,” he wrote the Observer in an email. “Colleagues I have spoken to at all levels have appreciated ways to stay connected.”