Munich Elementary School was K-7. It was an old warehouse building that was converted to a school. Those of us who attended – our Dads were assigned to Warner Kaserne. We had a bombed-out house that sat in the middle of the playground with one small bit of yellow tape wrapped around it to keep us from exploring. On one side of the playground was a Mercedes Benz factory or dealership, not sure which. They had the cars parked along the chain link fence that bordered the school. But by 1965 the peace symbol was big and the hood ornaments began to disappear along the fence. So then the cars were backed in which prevented further mysterious theft. I was there March 1965 to finish 6th grade (my third school that year). My best teacher ever was Alice Kakimoto for 7th grade. She was remarkable and brought to life a terrified, insecure, painfully shy 12-year-old and I’ll go to my grave thankful for her presence in my life. The school colors were black and gold and the eagle was our mascot. My mom threw out my pennant from the school.
On an afternoon in mid-August 1950, emotions were running high as the troop transport, General George Goethels, slowly pulled into the port of Bremerhaven. Many of the 75 teachers abroad were feeling some anxiety at facing the unknown awaiting them as teachers for Dependent Schools in a war-torn country occupied by Allied military forces.
Ever wonder what your students take away from you with them as they depart into the world? The Ides of March being tomorrow, I thought I’d share this little brain dripping with you. Enjoy!
“This was the noblest Roman of them all: All the conspirators, save only he, did that they did in envy of great Caesar…” Tomorrow being the “Ides of March” made famous in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, reminded me of two gifted educators I had while attending Karlsruhe American High School in Germany in the 1960’s.
He was the most amazing teacher I have ever had. I did not have a very good childhood. He gave me self esteem. He encouraged me to do my art. He encouraged me to be a cheer leader. If it had not been for him I would never have been who I am today. He gave me courage. What a great teacher.
My third-grade teacher was Mrs. Canto. I don’t remember my second-grade teacher’s name or my fourth. Mrs. Cantu made an impression on me at Patrick Henry Village Elementary School when I was eight.
She was pretty with long blonde hair. I don’t think that’s why I remember her fifty years later though. She noticed me.
We were watching one of those films in class. The one where the film has to be loaded into a projector and the projector is pretty noisy as it plays the film on the screen that pulls down in from of the blackboard. It was a cartoon about the big bang theory. I was eight and thought it was silly. After it was over, Mrs. Cantu asked if there were any questions. I raised my hand, stood up and asked, “Where did the two particles come from?” She smiled at me.
It was October of 1969 when we arrived in Erlangen Germany and I was in the middle of my 3rd Grade year. If memory serves me correctly, Erlangen elementary was located outside of the back gate of Ferris Barracks. I remember the bus going through the Post gates from the housing area and out the back gate to arrive at school. The school was an old, white one-story structure with lots of windows in the classrooms. The scenery would sometimes prove to be a welcomed distraction at times.
It all began about a month before school ended. Our teachers at Stuttgart American High School herded us over to the base theater in the Pattonville housing area. After we settled down, a rather imposing man with an impossible mustache got up and gave us a presentation on a new three week summer program for dependent boys. It was based on a civilian program popular in the United States called Outward Bound. The idea was to challenge teenagers through a series of physical and mental activities to build character and begin to partake in objective self discovery. The goal of the program was to help kids realize their full potential through the experience of the real adventure of hiking, camping and mountain climbing. It was designed to challenge them physically, mentally and emotionally as well as helping young people conquer their fear of living in a scary world. This program would be run by some of his Army Ranger friends.
We arrived at Panzer Kaserne in Böeblingen Germany in January 1961, after my Dad was transferred there from Fort Sill…we lived on the economy for the first year, January 1961 to spring 1962, when quarters became available for us on post…I started school in the 1st grade in the 1962-1963 school year…up until that time I had been an only child, and had spent all my time with only my Mom up until then… (more…)
I need to sleep, but I’m too excited! I leave tomorrow, August 8,1960, to teach American children of servicemen stationed in Germany. The train leaves at 7 am, All night long, I anticipate what it might be like. In the morning, a neighbor takes me to the station. What a surprise! Brothers, sister, nieces and nephews are all there. No tears just jubilation. My brother puts a movie camera he got at a flea market around my neck. It weighs a ton! “All aboard!” Off we go. I need to sleep, but I want to say goodbye to my beautiful Pennsylvania hills.
It was the Autumn of 1974 and I was just starting 6th grade at Pforzheim Elementary School in Pforzheim, Germany. It was the fifth elementary school I had attended in five years. As a child in a military family, it was not unusual for me to change schools, but it was very unusual to find myself in a tiny school sharing a teacher and a classroom with 4th and 5th graders. I wondered, “What am I going to learn with 4th and 5th graders in my class?” I was not happy. As a result, I had a terrible attitude, and I was rude to my classmates and my teacher. I remember frequently interrupting my teacher during class by blurting out “I already learned that!”, “I already know that” and “I learned that when I was 5 years old.” Finally, my teacher, Ms. Joan Maas, gently pulled me aside and said three things to me: 1) “You’re smart, but you’re not smarter than me” 2) “I can teach you” and 3) “You’re making the other children feel bad.” I went home and cried because it had never occurred to me that my words were hurtful, or that I made the other students feel bad.
One special thing about growing up in Gateway Gardens was celebrating Christmas! Those special school Christmas productions put on by classes were always bright spots in my memories. I still have a “white Elephant” treasure I bought for my mom at the school Christmas bazaar- a coffee grinder. Santa rode on the back of the fire truck around Gateway Gardens as we chased him through the streets! I remember one time seeing St. Nickolas in Waldorf- walking through the streets! I never got any switches in my shoes – ha! I never got to the Christmas markets, maybe someday!
I was there for fifth grade with Mr. Birdsell but sixth grade was the best. Our teacher, Ms. Joan Maas took us on an adventure. I can tell you almost every book I read that year. Ms. Maas had a friend who built a geodesic dome out of card board. We did plays and puppet shows. Ms. Maas had a collection of comic books about history. The two big things were our trip to Hinterbrand/Project Bold. It was a chalet that belonged to Hitler. We went on hikes and obstacle courses. We rode on a sky lift. We saw an avalanche from way off. In the salt mines we rode on a boat. Ms. Maas taught three of us to play guitar. She also took us on Armed Forces Radio to sing for Martin Luther King’s birthday.
I managed the Munich High football team for one year under Buckli. All of those blue helmets; I painted them. Equipment was very limited. Only so much new stuff per year. The rest was broken and worn out military surplus hand-me downs. Huge cardboard boxes with uniforms, mostly sizes large, super large. You had to go through all of the stuff to find something that would fit. Even shoes were rationed, and then even the cleats for the shoes. In a muddy game in Wiesbaden, I had no cleats. But we still played. Trips were on buses, we were put up in barracks, breakfast with soldiers in the mess hall. One time we got the treatment, sit down and eat, eat, eat, some Sergeant was screaming at us.
I graduated from Stuttgart American High School in Ludwigsburg (Pattonville), Germany. I lived in Goppingen about an hour’s school bus ride away.
Goppingen was up Hohenstaufen outside of Goppingen. I was the only Senior girl in Goppingen and there was one Senior boy. The base was in a nook in the side of Hohenstaufen that was one of a very few Hitler airbases the US never knew about.(more…)
Well, as for my “dormie experience” . . .my dad was stationed at Bindlach, a small base that housed an entire squadron. As I remember it, we had a survival rate of three minutes (and that was a generous estimate as were so close to the Czech border). The nearest high school was 53 km north at Nurnberg. Monday morning, we would get up at 4am and catch the bus to Nurnberg at 6 something. It was almost a two-hour drive and we arrive in time to put our suitcases in the back of the dorm and run to the cafeteria for breakfast then to our first class. We lived right on campus. At the time the place still looked pretty good. (more…)
When Frankfurt Elementary School in Frankfurt, Germany closed in 1995, the staff compiled a booklet of memories. AOSHS is very fortunate to have a copy of this booklet. The school was open from 1946 to 1995. (more…)
Many of us will remember Mr. Huffer as a math teacher at Berlin American High School in the 1960’s-1980’s, where he taught Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus. But clearly from the unusual direction his life took him from his simple early youth in Arkansas to end up on assignment to Special Ops in Cold War Berlin, there was more to Charles A. Huffer than met the eye. (more…)
While we were stationed at Ramstein AFB, and I was attending Kaiserslautern American High School, I was recommended by my teachers for a tutoring job at Landstuhl Hospital. The patient (student?), was a young boy, about middle-school age, however his curriculum was definitely high school. I taught him algebra, geometry, US History, US Government, German and Spanish, Chemistry (minus the lab) and English (I provided books and we discussed them). I met three times a week. He had a badly broken femur and some internal injuries; his older brother and father were also there but were hurt much worse. (more…)
The Class of 2020 is in a position that’s uniquely their own. But certain aspects of it have me reflecting on my own senior year…
The Class of 2020 is about to finish their final year of high school under unprecedented circumstances. Long-held traditions and carefully laid plans have been waylaid. I have some idea how they feel. My senior year was pretty weird, too.
I went to school on a U.S. Army post in a small German town near the border between East and West Germany. The U.S. military’s Cold War-era mission there was to defend a mountain pass that was strategically important: the Fulda Gap. It was there that the Russians would most likely come through to the West in case of an invasion. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t! The border came down and the two countries became one again. Yay!)
I’d lived in Fulda and attended school on the Army post since 2nd grade, and I always assumed I’d have an ordinary senior year much like my brothers did years before me. But in 1993, the U.S. Government decided that with the Cold War over and Germany reunified, it was time to shut down some American installations in Europe — and Fulda’s fate was sealed.
My brother and I went to the American Army schools — 9th-11th grade for me, Frankfurt High School; elementary school for Dennis. The FHS student body was 900 and included kids like me who walked to school, kids from farther away who arrived in Army buses each day, kids from even farther who lived in the dorm all week but went home on weekends, and kids from REALLY far away like Moscow or Damascus (children of diplomats in places where there were no American schools), who stayed in the dorm all semester. Although 900 sounds small to a New Yorker, it was far too much for the original 1954 building so we also had some “Quonset huts” for the overflow (strictly speaking these were Butler Buildings; real Quonset huts are half-cylinders, but it’s the same idea: prefab temporary buildings made of corrugated metal that can be erected in a few hours).
In 1997, I was delighted to receive a transfer to return to Germany after sixteen years away. In the interim, the Berlin Wall had come down, and East and West Germany were reunited. America was involved in conflicts in Bosnia and Korsovo, with parents deployed from Giessen. Improved telephone service and the Internet made communication with the States quick and inexpensive. When I began teaching in DoDDS, families whose children had special needs were not sent overseas; but educational trends had evolved since the cultural upheaval of the 1960’s to include mainstreaming of special needs students and the concept of IEPs.
Until after I arrived, I didn’t discover the troublesome relationship between the school and community that existed in Giessen. The NCA report given in early 1998 stated that “there’s plenty of technology,…“discipline is a major concern,…[and] kids have little pride in the school”— facts most of the faculty well knew.(more…)
When I arrived for the first time in Europe, vaguely retaining some high school German, I felt much relief to be passed along to my destination by veteran DoDDS teachers through their amazing relay system. A fellow teacher met my plane at Rhein-Main AFB and registered me at the military lodge. The next morning, another teacher delivered me to the Frankfurt Main Train Station with instructions to get off the train when it stopped at noon, for that would be Nürnberg. Someone from the Nürnberg faculty settled me, jet-lagged, into the American Hotel across the street for the weekend, and on the following Monday, he sent me by train on the last leg of the trip to Ansbach.
My first impression of the Ansbach Junior High was that it looked like a Girl Scout cabin in the woods. “L-shaped,” all the rooms opened to an outside covered walkway while the library and principal’s office was in the corner. We were a small faculty—I can only recall five or six of us—because we only taught grades 7-9, each our own department head.(more…)