Claire Kyzer, lead teacher of Brookwood School's German Immersion Program, has been named World Language Educator of the Month by the Georgia Department of Education.

As a former German teacher, "I really appreciate what you do," Patrick Wallace told Kyzer during a presentation Monday night. "I know how important (these) educators are."

And learning German is valuable, especially in this state, said Wallace, program specialist for world languages and global work initiatives for the Georgia Department of Education. There are thousands of German companies in Georgia, and "we have a special relationship with the German consulate."

Wallace's department accepts public nominations for this award, which is how Kyzer came to his attention, and it's critical to recognize teachers like her doing outstanding work on this field, he said. "We need to honor the teachers we have now so we increase them in the future."

Kyzer, who also celebrates her birthday in March, leads a team of instructors at Brookwood, and she's developed a model program. She joined Brookwood in 2017.

Dual language immersion programs are "shining jewels" of Dalton Public Schools, said Jennifer Phinney, a director of school support for the system. The system has three Spanish Immersion Programs, as well as one German program at Brookwood, and they all continue to grow annually.

The dual language immersion program is "one of the greatest blessings" at Brookwood, as families of children at the school have the opportunity to receive Georgia Standards of Excellence, as all students in Georgia do, but through the medium of German, said Meleia Bridenstine, Brookwood's principal. A STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) school, Brookwood stakeholders chose German as it is a scientific language and "one that is paramount in international business."

Students in Brookwood's program "are on path to be fluent and literate in German by the completion of fifth grade," Bridenstine added. "This fantastic opportunity would not be possible without the vision and work of Claire Kyzer."

For her efforts to teach students German and build a flourishing program others can emulate, the Daily Citizen-News names Claire Kyzer its Citizen of the Week.

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