Teachers Who Inspire

Blake Peters, Oregon

Can four weeks at a German immersion summer camp influence the rest of a student’s life?

For Blake Peters, it certainly did! Coming from a family with no second language experience, Blake had chosen German over Spanish in the ninth grade. In the summer before his tenth grade year, a generous woman in his home town in Michigan sponsored his participation in a four-weeks summer camp at Concordia’s German language village Waldsee in Minnesota.
Although he had had only one year of high school German, he started dreaming in German at Waldsee. His summer experience allowed him to skip German 2, and he ended up taking German at the local community college, majoring in German in college. He eventually became a nationally known in the German teaching profession.

During Blake’s junior year as a German and Human Development and Social Relations dual major with a Michigan Secondary Teaching Certificate at Kalamazoo College (MI), he studied in Erlangen and lived with a host family. Blake loved his Germany experience so much that he arranged to do his student teaching in his senior year on a US military base in Germany, just so he could return to Germany. A Fulbright Fellowship allowed him to teach in Bad Salzuflen for the year after his college graduation.

Blake returned to the US to teach German at Louisville Collegiate School in Louisville, Kentucky, from August 1999 to June 2003. At LCS he developed the curriculum for five German courses, including Advanced Placement German.

“Blake is an innovative leader in German language education,” noted Dan Hamilton, who serves as professor at Johns Hopkins University during the academic year and dean of Waldsee during the summer. “His hands-on style energizes students and his tremendous cross-cultural skills really pay off when it comes to encouraging German-American collaboration.”

Although Blake attended Waldsee only once, he returned 10 years later as an MA student in German at Ohio State University. Returning as a graduate student showed him that teaching was his calling rather than research. He worked there as a credit teacher and eventually became dean of the Waldsee Abroad program. Since moving to Oregon (and losing his summers), Blake has stayed connected to Waldsee as an author and presenter on how to bring Waldsee methods into classrooms around the country. Blake acknowledges, “The four-week experience after my 9th grade year changed my life. Waldsee, and the community of talented individuals who work and live there have been instrumental in my development ever since. Dan and Heidi Hamilton, Jon Berndt Olsen and many more have mentored me.”

In 2003 Blake became the Head of School at the German American School of Portland (OR) (www.gspdx.org), which in a small non-profit school means he is principal, maintenance man, and whatever else is necessary. The school is one of five bilingual schools in the United States officially recognized by the Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen (Central Agency for Schools Abroad). Blake is the only “Schulleiter” among the 140 schools worldwide who is not a native German.

The recipient of several scholarships, including a Fulbright, Blake is active professionally. Since 2000 he has been an author, curriculum developer, and presenter for Gute Idee: A Handbook of Good Ideas for Teachers of German. In 2006 he was elected to a three-year term as Northwest Representative to the Executive Committee of the American Association of Teachers of German.

Blake met his wife Sharon while he was teaching at Louisville Collegiate School and she was finishing law school. Their son Nathan (4) is learning German at the German American School’s preschool. Jeffrey (2) is learning German from Blake while in the car and on adventure hikes. Blake’s hobbies are reading, hiking, running, tennis and trying to get some sleep.