The Minnesota Chapter of the AATG offers two yearly awards. Select one of the links below to navigate to the relevant section of this page:

MN-AATG Teacher of the Year
MN-AATG Undergraduate of the Year

Herzlichen Glückwunsch to Frau Cody

as 2023

Minnesota German Educator of the Year

Jae Cody is a deeply committed teacher who goes to great lengths to support her students. She has been teaching German at Apple Valley High School since 2009. In her time there, she added a College-in-the-Schools option for fourth year students and an International Cinema class designed to draw more students to world languages. She also maintained a long-term GAPP partnership that has hosted multiple full-year exchange students, extending the reach of German in her school. Over the years, Frau Cody designed her course and grading to reflect the philosophy that languages should be accessible to all students, leading to high retention levels and a community feeling in her classes. When Apple Valley began transitioning to a STEM high school, she got certified as a STEM Innovator teacher, developed units around German inventions, and collaborated with ninth grade science classes to offer German perspectives on climate change problems and proposed solutions. Through long-term cooperation with the German and Engineering program at the University of St. Thomas, her students have gained exposure to a variety of opportunities for using German after graduation, and several students in recent years have received Congress-Bundestag Scholarships or qualified to study at German universities. Thank you for all your work Frau Cody! In recognition of that work the Minnesota Branch of the AATG is pleased to present Jae Cody with the Award for German Educator of the Year.


The MN AATG German Educator of the Year will be announced at the National German Exam Banquet in May. MN AATG may choose to further nominate winners for MCTLC awards such as Minnesota World Language Teacher of the Year.

~~~~Past MN AATG Teacher of the Year Winners:

Brittany Elsen, New Prague High School, 2019-2020
Lynn Strom, Watertown Mayer High School, 2018-19
Michele Strassburg, Buffalo High School, 2017-18
Matt Beck, Saint John’s Preparatory School, 2016-17
Emmerich Sack, Saint John’s Preparatory School, 2014-2015
Dan Buck, Spring Lake Park high School, 2013-2014
Matt Mitchell 2012-2013
Jenni Dorfsman 2011 – 2012
Bruce Buscho 2010 – 2011
John Diffley 2009 – 2010
Shari Fox 2008 – 2009
Verena Luethy-Clay 2007 – 2008
Vicki Olson 2006 – 2007
Ted Anderson 2005 – 2006
Maureen Curran 2004- 2005
Gayle Carlson 2003 – 2004
Jutta Crowder, 2002-2003
Rebecca Waterhouse, 2001-2002
Anita Ratwik, 2000-2001
John Linnemann, 1999-2000
Vicki Swedeen, 1998-99
Cheryl Wason, 1997-1998
Felice Dickey, 1995-1996
Shelley Orr and Heide Westergard (dual winners), 1994-1995
Peg Feil 1990

MN-AATG Undergraduate of the Year Award

Herzlichen Glückwunsch to

Laura Hankins and Elise Anderson

as 2022 and 2023

Minnesota German Undergraduates of the Year

Laura Hankins (for 2022) from the University of St. Thomas

Laura Hankins graduated from the University of St. Thomas in May, 2023. She is thankful for the many experiences she had while learning German. As longtime member of the German Club, she often connected with other students on campus curious about the diverse cultures around them. In her first year at St. Thomas, she played the role of treasurer for German Club. She later applied and was elected as co-president for her junior and senior years. Helping plan cultural, educational and career development events became a passion. She noted that those memories from German Club, like dancing around a “Maibaum”, a German American Career fair, and tearing down a simulation Berlin Wall on campus, will stay with her throughout her life.

She drew on her German courses for her Summa Cum Laude examination titled “American Healthcare Reforms for a Sleep Deprived Population.” Comparison with German culture contributed to the project, because she was able to consider how cultural conditions impact decisions related to things like maternity leave in United States and Germany, and discuss potential reforms for the future. This year she will be continuing work on a chemistry research project on a Fulbright-Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Award for Research in Science and Technology in Vienna, Austria. There as well, using her German language skills to further her education will help propel her towards her goal of attending medical school in 2024. Laura noted that German-speaking cultures and the German language has helped enrich her life in invaluable ways.

Elise Anderson (for 2023) from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Elise Anderson has been fascinated with the languages and cultures of the world since she first learned to read. She talked about wanting to learn other languages for years, a desire that was finally realized when she began studying German in sixth grade. She quickly fell in love with the language and continued studying it through high school under Shari Fox, whose dedication and skill as a teacher instilled in her a passion for the German language and culture.

Because of this growing passion, Elise decided to continue studying German at the university level. The interest in language and culture that she gained from her study of German inspired and motivated her to learn Norwegian as well, and she is currently double majoring in Linguistics and German, Scandinavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota. She is especially interested in the intersection of these two fields: current linguistic research into German and Norwegian, and the history of the Germanic languages, with a special focus on early forms of German. Elise plans to continue her studies at a graduate level, and hopes to study at a university in either Germany or Norway. In either case, her passion for and study of German will have enabled her to pursue a degree, either directly, through her knowledge of German, or indirectly, for having inspired her to learn Norwegian as well. After finishing her studies, Elise would like to become a language teacher or professor, passing on the passion for and knowledge of languages, just as her teachers and professors did for her.

~~~~Past MN AATG Undergraduates of the Year:

Elise Anderson, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 2023
Laura Hankins, University of St. Thomas, 2022

Nominations are always welcome:

To nominate a teacher for the Educator of the Year Award, please click here!

And to nominate a student for the Undergraduate of the Year Award, click here!

National German Exam:

Please also note, unfortunately, due to safety concerns related to COVID-19 pandemic, the AATG will not be able to distribute medals for this year’s National German Exam. As noted in an email from AATG’s Executive Director Keith Cothrun, the AATG recognizes “the great accomplishments of the 20,426 students who participated in the 2020 National German Exam. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze award students are recognized on the Presidential Honor Roll on [the AATG’s] website. You can also download and customize certificates to honor students for their achievements.”