Dr. Susanne Kelley Receives the American Association of Teachers of German Outstanding Educator Award


KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 8, 2015) — Dr. Susanne Kelley received the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) highest award for outstanding contributions to the German teaching profession at the post-secondary level during the AATG 2015 Awards Presentation on November 21, 2015 at the national conference in San Diego, California. In addition to receiving the prestigious AATG award, the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation in Berlin provides honorees with the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation Travel Grant.

To be nominated for the award, potential candidates should document five or more years of demonstrated excellence in German education; active membership in the local AATG chapter; creative leadership in German language education; impact in local, state, or national arenas; and continued growth as a German educator. Dr. Kelley’s experience and passion for teaching German embody her diligence, success, and commitment as an educator at Kennesaw State University.

Dr. Kelley grew up in Germany, where she learned her first foreign language (English) starting in 5th grade, and then she took Latin and French. She had always enjoyed learning other languages and the cultural perspectives attached to them, but the idea of becoming an educator did not occur to her until she was an undergraduate student. During her undergraduate studies, by chance, she had the opportunity to try out a few different teaching situations in language classes and found out that she really enjoyed them. Now she encourages her students to seize opportunities to try out different things, because you never know what passion or talent you might discover. You will also likely find a few things you are not good at or don’t enjoy, but that is an important part of education too.

The faculty and administration at Kennesaw State have been generous with their support of the Department of Foreign Languages program’s efforts. New ideas and approaches, including unconventional ones, are encouraged; faculty has many opportunities for professional development; and the resulting student, program and faculty successes are celebrated. This makes the work exciting, fun, and rewarding.

When asked “What does receiving the Outstanding Educator award mean to you?” Dr. Kelley said,

“It is a privilege and an honor to have been nominated by my colleague Dr. Berwald and to have been supported by letters from colleagues, the administration and former students. Actually receiving the national award was really the big cherry on top. The work, which the award recognizes, is only possible if it is supported by the institutional context, which is the case at Kennesaw State.”

Therefore, if you are thinking about learning a new language here at Kennesaw State or shaking the rust off of your German, be encouraged that learning another language opens one’s horizon to new ways of expression and new perspectives. It globalizes an individual by teaching intercultural competence, which makes the world more accessible and much less daunting. Germany is an economic powerhouse in the world and German-speaking countries share a rich culture. Our German Studies Program at Kennesaw State offers students a large array of opportunities that prepare them for a competitive workforce (grant-funded study abroad and internship opportunities, practical application of the language and culture, etc.).


In addition to being an Outstanding Educator of the German language at Kennesaw State, Dr. Kelley also currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of “The Kennesaw Tower Undergraduate Foreign Language Research Journal," a national journal that was started in the Department of Foreign Languages at KSU.



Written interview and photographs contributed by Dr. Susanne Kelley.