Department of Defense Education Activity schools in the Kaiserslautern Military Community were recently recognized for their continued partnership with local German schools.
Undersecretary Nicole Steingaß from the Rheinland-Pfalz Ministry of the Interior honored DODEA and German schools as “WiR! Schools” during a digital ceremony Dec. 7. This accolade is reserved for schools and kindergartens actively contributing to the promotion of a German-American exchange through joint activities and mutual fulfillment of certain criteria.
WiR comes from an abbreviation of the state program Willkommen in Rheinland-Pfalz and translates to “We” in English. The Willkommen in Rheinland-Pfalz, or Welcome to Rheinland-Pfalz, program launched in 2014 to promote German-American bonds and enhance opportunities for Americans to join the life and culture of local German communities.
Rheinland-Pfalz is home to more than 50,000 Americans who live alongside German neighbors. School and kindergarten partnerships help foster the local German-American understanding between young people.
Representatives from DODEA, local civic leaders and military leaders attended the virtual ceremony.
“I deeply respect the commitment educators from both sides have shown to our partnerships, our children and our education on a very human level,” said Col. Robert Thompson, 86th Mission Support Group commander. “A global pandemic is something no one ever expects and yet it united us in a way that most of us were unprepared for.”
Steingaß expressed her excitement to see partnerships cultivated within the schools, noting that students from both sides benefit from the special transatlantic contacts.
“I celebrate these partnerships and I’m eager to see how they will further develop in the future,” said Steingaß.
The following school partnership projects were honored:
- Ramstein Middle School – Reichswald-Gymnasium Ramstein-Miesenbach
- Kaiserslautern High School – BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern
- Baumholder Middle/High School – Realschule Plus/Fachoberschule Birkenfeld
- Baumholder Middle/High School – Kindergarten Ruschberg
To learn more about the state’s program and WiR Schools, visit welcome-to-rlp.org.