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Faculty Focus: June 2019

June 2, 2019

German Teacher Ms. Alison Strom is wrapping up her eighth academic year at Fenwick.


As the mother of quadruplets (now 2), Frau Strom keeps busy at home as well!

What is your educational background?

AS: BAT – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; MA – University of Wisconsin at Madison

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

AS: While in graduate school, I taught German 101 as a teaching assistant and also worked full time as a German and Spanish teacher at a local middle school.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

AS: Although I love reading, life is pretty busy these days. When I do get a chance to read, I read Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

AS: With two-year-old quadruplets at home, I don’t have much free time. But I love everything about the beautiful chaos of our home and life as a family of six. Spending time with my husband and babies brings me so much joy. Our favorite thing to do is go on long walks with our huge quad stroller. We meet so many new friends this way, as everyone wants to know who we are and what we are doing with such a monster-size stroller!

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

AS: I ran cross-country for all four years. In addition, I was in the marching band and wind ensemble. Weekends were pretty busy in the fall! I was also part of Life! Be in it!, a service club.

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?

AS: I am the German Club moderator.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

AS: Fenwick students are incredibly motivated. They are always eager to know exactly what is expected of them and how to meet these expectations successfully. Not only are they intelligent, but they also work very hard. I love that they don’t just rely on their natural intelligence, but are eager to learn.

I also find Fenwick students to be extraordinarily kind. They hold doors open for each other, they’re supportive of one another’s successes and are inclusive in the classroom. As Fenwick’s mission statement says, I see students “leading, achieving and serving.” I am so proud to be a teacher here.

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?

AS: I was originally planning on completing my Ph.D. but, after spending time in the classroom, I realized I much preferred teaching to academia. Teaching allowed me to build relationships with my students and design lesson plans and units tailored to them. There seemed to be more of an opportunity to get creative with how I presented vocabulary and grammar to my students in a way that teaching German literature in a college didn’t seem to offer. I decided to stop after my Master’s, and I’ve never looked back.

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?

AS: I am a very creative person, and I think that has really helped me to find new ways to reach my students through a variety of creative activities and games. I am always thinking up new ways to introduce the material and by doing that in various ways, I think it keeps my classroom fresh and my lesson plans interesting.

I try to see the best in everyone, and my desire to see the good in others has been very helpful in the classroom. My goal is always for my students to feel safe, comfortable and accepted in my classes. Speaking in a foreign language can be stressful, and if students feel comfortable around me and their peers, they will use it more easily and be more excited to try out new words or grammatical concepts.

What are your favorite classes to teach?

AS: My German classes, of course! I feel truly blessed to get to have the same students for three to four years, and to watch them grow as not only German speakers, but also as people. I couldn’t choose between Levels 1-4; I love the material and the people in these classes!

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?

AS: The interest in the German program has grown significantly since I started working here. The fact that there are so many students excited and eager to take German makes me incredibly happy and proud. When students continue to take German in college and/or their younger siblings enroll in German, I know that I’ve been successful in inspiring a love of German and an interest in German classes at Fenwick.

What challenges face students today?

AS: Screen addiction. There are so many wonderful things that technology has given us but I think, as a society, we have to be careful about screen addiction. The constant bombardment of information, connection to social media and access to data make it increasingly difficult to disconnect. Higher levels of anxiety and loneliness have been tied to our over-reliance on devices. It’s a problem that we all need to work on, but I feel that students are most at risk.



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