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In most schools, students are obligated to take one foreign language course. Some colleges, like the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, require at least two consecutive classes of foreign language that go with their majors. In the case of German, odds are your teacher will be Johannes Stroschänk. How can one describe Johannes Strohschänk in five sentences or less? Stroschänk was born in Stuttgart, Germany before moving to the United States as a student. While in the United States, he got his Master’s Degree in Columbia, South Carolina. He has been teaching for, in his words, half a century, since the age of 20. He is happily married, has two adult daughters, and two grandchildren. Currently, he works at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) where he teaches three German classes per semester, team teaches with a fellow Professor, and provides individual study for students struggling in class.
The typical day for Strohschänk starts with a healthy meal of natural cereal and green tea before leaving for work. Once he arrives at the University, he rereads his prepared syllabus and decides whether or not something should be added. Strohschänk tries to remain as punctual as he can, usually arriving to his classroom five to ten minutes ahead of schedule. Upon walking into his classroom, he patiently waits for the hour to strike while making conversation with his students, such as asking how their day is, how they are feeling, etc. Once it is officially the time for class to start, he breaks into a large grin and greets everyone with, “Guten Tag!” (Which means “good day” in German). Teachers do have lives outside of the classroom, it is logical some may be curious about how they unwind and prepare for school. When asked this question, Strohschänk replied that after grading assignments, he plays chess, listens to music, reads, talks on the phone or cooks with his wife.
All of his students seem very fond of him and pay close attention to him as he teaches. Sophia Spittlemeister, a freshman at UWEC and student of Stroschänk, has commented that “he is a very energetic professor and I really enjoy his class because he genuinely cares about my success in learning the German language.”
When asked whether or not he had advice for people who want to become teachers, Strohschänk had a quick response. He stated that a person needs to listen, they have to like to talk and be patient with their students. Not all students are going to grasp the material right away, a teacher needs to give them time. When he faces the rare occasions when his patience is wearing thin, he remembers a very important saying of his wife’s, “Students will make mistakes; let them! It will help them learn!” After being asked what he would do if he was not a teacher or if he would like to be anything other than a teacher, Strohschänk seemed surprised before shaking his head, saying that he “would never want to do anything else in life!”