Cathy Altmeyer Recognized for Efforts in Advancing the Teaching of German

WASHINGTON, Pa. (Nov. 27, 2013)—Cathy Altmeyer, who has taught German at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) for a dozen years, is a 2013 recipient of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG)/Goethe-Institut Certificate of Merit for outstanding achievement in furthering the teaching of German in schools in the United States.

Altmeyer was honored during the awards presentation at the AATG Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The Goethe-Institut/AATG Certificate of Merit honors German teachers for:
• Outstanding teaching
• Creative and successful activities promoting German
• Innovative curriculum and successful course design
• Successful interdisciplinary cooperation
• Significant contributions to the profession

Altmeyer has been teaching at W&J since 2001. An active member of AATG and an officer in the organization for the last six years, she is organizer of W&J’s annual German Day event.

“This is the best job I have ever had,” Altmeyer said. “I love the German language. I hope my students find me a good facilitator for learning the language.”

When Altmeyer started at W&J, the German program offered four courses. This semester alone, there are nine courses.

“The demand has gone up over the years. We have seen an increase in students, in majors, and an increase in the language abilities of the students upon their arrival on campus,” Altmeyer said.

Michael Shaughnessy, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate and continuing studies and former chair of the modern languages department at W&J, said Altmeyer has established a “serious mentoring relationship” with her students. He wrote a recommendation letter for Altmeyer’s nomination.

“Simply put, she takes pride in her work and acts accordingly,” he said. “As a German instructor and colleague, she shines bright, but as a colleague in the profession, she shines even brighter. When asked if she would consider being nominated, she repeatedly suggested that others come before her. For me, it has been too long coming and it is good to see her finally recognized.”

Peg Meyers, German teacher at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, nominated Altmeyer, noting that there would not be a chapter of AATG in Western Pennsylvania without Altmeyer.

“I cannot think of a German instructor at any level who works as tirelessly and as professionally as Cathy Altmeyer. She loves the German language, the German culture, and sharing her expertise with young people and colleagues alike,” Meyers said. 

With 5,000 members, the AATG is for teachers of German at all levels of instruction and all those interested in the teaching of German. It is the only national individual membership organization dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the language, literature, and culture of the German-speaking countries.

“While other institutions in Pennsylvania are dropping German, W&J’s program is strong due to its connections with area schools and with the large number of German companies in the Pittsburgh region.  The program is interdisciplinary and international and produces strong graduate who go on to use German language skills in business, education, and law,” Shaughnessy added.

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Cathy Altmeyer