Covid has changed school life, but not always for the worst. Jeff Luppes, Professor of German, has found that visiting high-school language classes is a bit easier via Zoom and Google Classroom.
“I’ve been able to eliminate travel time and simply “pop in” for quick visits allowing me to visit more classes and speak to more students,” Luppes said. Just since December, he’s been able to visit four times. The visits help recruit high school German students to the German program at IU South Bend, but Luppes’s goals are broader than just encouraging students to enroll here.
“Above all, I promote the study of German and tell them how beneficial it is for their future careers to continue with their studies of the language at the high school level so that when they go to college – wherever that is – they can take a placement exam and save time and money,” he said.
“Not all of them will come to IUSB but if they keep taking German, wherever they end up, it’s a good thing for the study of the language.”
His last four visits have been at Penn High School, which has a large and thriving German program that often enables students to place at a high level when they enroll at IUSB.
“I tell the students openly that I want them to come take German with me but if they don’t want to do that, they should come to IUSB anyway,” he said. “If they don’t want to do that, then they should continue with German wherever they end up.”
Engaging in the community with these class visits is facilitated by Zoom because the short visits are easier to squeeze into the tight schedules of both college and high-school professors, he said. For Elizabeth Dix, a German teacher at Penn High School, Luppes’s visits bring another voice of encouragement to her students.
“It’s important for them to see how German can be a part of their future lives, whether they go to IUSB or not. He encourages them to continue on with as much German as possible (that’s good for my program) and to take German in college (potentially good for his program or other university programs),” Dix said. “It’s important for them to hear this from someone other than me. I can say these things until I am blue in the face, but until they hear it from the university authority, they don’t believe it.”
A big advantage Luppes brings to the discussions is to have students explore why they are taking German, Dix said.
“Some of them are there because they have to be, but many of them have other reasons, which is good for them to vocalize and share with the classmates,” she said. “The students often realize they are there for similar reasons and/or find new reasons for taking and sticking with German. The benefits of course are many, but not always obvious in the face of things.”
Another German teacher at Penn, Lauren Tarbet, agreed about the value of Luppes’s visits to her classes.
“It’s a wonderful resource for students to have Jeffrey come and visit. They are able to see what their options are beyond high school if they continue to practice and learn German, including university work and even potential career paths they might be interested in,” Tarbet said. “Jeffrey encourages them to not just continue on to German at IUSB, but to just continue in the language in general, wherever that may take them, which is awesome.
“IUSB has done a great job at reaching out to local schools and encouraging not only attendance at IUSB, but also language development in a growing global community.”