After visiting Germany with his daughter, Michael Windheuser realized he wanted a way to learn German outside of an academic experience. His daughter’s teacher mentioned the existence of German Saturday schools, and the idea to start one began brewing. After spending time in Waldsee, for a Family Week in 2009 and 2010, Michael began to understand how the Villages use everything as a teaching experience.
“The idea is, ‘let’s just learn everyday things in German, not what’s covered in a lesson,’” says Michael, “Everything is a learning experience.”
The idea of German School of Northeast Kansas (GSNEKS) as a Saturday school in Lawrence, Kansas, appealed to Michael because as a working adult, he could fit it into his schedule. He advertised in a local newspaper to find other people who were interested in the school, then met for a few months to organize things. On Saturday, September 10th, they held a successful first day of class, and now they’re on their way to the end of their first semester with a peak enrollment of 35 people from all around Northeast Kansas interested in learning German.
Through singing songs, playing games, and acquiring their Namenschild (nametag), students of the school – everyone from preschoolers to adults – learn German through an hour and a half of immersion once a week.
“At some point, we’ll have to figure out a second level in our school system, but for now everyone is pretty much at an elementary level,” says Michael
As the first semester of the GSNEKS comes to a close, Michael Windheuser attributes many of the elements of its success to attending Waldsee.
“We’re trying not to make [GSNEKS] like a school,” Michael says, “Rather than having a school experience, we want it to be more like life experience.”
To learn more about the school, visit http://www.lawrencegermanschool.org.