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DANK Haus is proud to welcome teachers with many different German dialects and mother tongues. Our committed faculty members are diverse in their educational background and life experiences, well-qualified and highly motivated. And they all share the same passion: passing on their love of German language.  

To learn more about our German language school administration,  we also invite you to meet our Interim Language Program Director and Language Program Coordinator.


Derek Thor Cary - who prefers to go by his second name Thor - joined the DANK Haus teaching team in January of  2016 after moving to Chicago.   Thor grew up in a small town in Kansas and finished high school in Bavaria.  While studying Social Anthropology and Japanese Studies at the Freie Universität he worked for many years teaching German and English at various public and private schools and universities in Berlin, later in Istanbul.  Thor has a strong interest in urban farming and permaculture to promote food security.  When not teaching, he volunteers for a job training program through urban agriculture in Chicago’s south-side Chicago as well as for the UN.  The language talent that he is, Thor recently started learning Icelandic - grammatically the most similar of all North Germanic languages to modern German (three genders and 4 cases!).  Thor admits, not the most practical language to learn with only 330,000 native speakers, but at least most elves one meets around Hafnarfjörður have a good conversational command of Icelandic too.


Paulina Broda joined our team in early 2017.  She has always been interested in the German language.  Therefore, after graduating from High School in Poland in 2003 she moved to Stuttgart to pursue Linguistics (German) and Italian Studies at the University of Stuttgart.  Paulina worked as Product Manager of magazines for children and teenagers for over three years.  In 2015, she graduated from Fachhochschule für Ökonomie und Management with a Master of Business Administration.  Currently, Paulina is discovering her passion for teaching German.  In her free time, she enjoys German food and events, Zumba, traveling, and snowboarding.


Barbara Dael was born in Köln and grew up in Bonn (Nordrhein-Westfalen).  She moved to Chicago in 1989 and got involved with the DANK Haus in the late 1990s when initiating and establishing a group for German speaking parents and their children to gather and socialize - the classic Krabbelgruppe.  She soon began to teach German language and culture at the DANK Haus herself - primarily adult classes at the upper intermediate and advanced level - and also became a board member for a brief period of time.  Barbara’s professional background is in civil engineering as well as freelance teaching.  In her free time she enjoys skiing, sailing, kayaking and hiking just as much as a visit to a museum or opera and classical concerts.


Monica is excited to bring her lifelong love of German literature and culture to managing the museum and collections at the DANK Haus. She earned her bachelor’s degree in German Language & Literature from Lawrence University in Wisconsin.  After spending a year as an English teaching assistant at the Internatsschule Schloss Hansenberg in Hesse, Germany, she moved to Chicago in 2008.  She later obtained a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago with concentrations in German and Russian.  She is also an avid chess player and can be found playing in the occasional tournament.


Isabelle is from what she refers to as “the former island” of West Berlin. As a teenager in high school, she witnessed the bewildering and exciting time leading up to the taking down of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification first hand. She studied French, Spanish and Biology at The Freie Universität Berlin. At that time she become an environmental organizer with the Young People’s and Artists’ Climate Summit, which hosted 30 activists from 15 different countries during the UN summit in Berlin. Instead of starting an internship in the Brazilian rain forest as planned, she chose to swap one concrete jungle for another and moved to Chicago, where she has lived and worked in multiple fields. She had her own import business, is a doula, a certified health coach and workshop instructor. Given her interest and passion for languages and cultures, she became a German teacher 7 years ago and has taught both adults and children at the University of Chicago, Language Loop, Kinderwerkstatt, Dankhaus and as a private tutor.


We welcomed Hans Martin Karrer to our team of teachers for the spring 2016 semester.  Born and raised in the Heidelberg area (Baden-Württemberg) he became a cosmopolitan while living in Asia for over 10 years.  During this time he met his wife, a Chicago native.  Their daughter has been attending Kinderschule ever since the family moved to Chicago in 2013.  Shortly after, the Karrer family became DANK members and active volunteer.  Hans Martin - a passionate recycler of all things reusable - is joining us with extensive experience in teaching.  While currently involved in Global Talent Management conducting intercultural and English language training, he previously has taught English at college in China as well as adult religious education in Germany.

Gundula Alexandra Miethke is a true "Berliner Pflanze".  She was born in Berlin (West) and grew up while the city was still surrounded by the Wall.  She studied German and English language and literature and education to become a teacher (Universität Passau/Bavaria and Universität Hamburg).  While studying she also spent one year as a foreign language assistant in London/Great Britain teaching German at two high schools.  After finishing her studies she worked as a managing editor for the German Rotary Magazin for many years and later as a freelance journalist.  Due to her love for woodworking she took on an apprenticeship and is now also a cabinet maker journeyman.  In 2005 she met her wife, a Lake Forest resident.  It took ten years until they finally could get married and Gundula was able to immigrate to the USA.  She started teaching at the DANK Haus in 2016, works as a freelance translator and takes on little furniture projects.  She is a staunch European,  has a love for Nord- and Ostfriesland, Celtic and Oriental culture and music and likes ballroom and Scottish dancing.


Miglena joined DANK Haus in August of 2015 with vast experience in teaching English and German language and culture at various higher level academic institutions.  Born in the town of Vidin, Bulgaria, she began her studies of German at the local School for Teaching Foreign Languages.  In 2003, she finished with a BS in Applied Linguistics and Germanic Studies at the South-West University "Neofit Rilski" in Bulgaria.  After moving to the Chicago area in 2004, Miglena earned her MA in Germanic Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009 followed by a PhD in Germanic Studies with Concentration in Second Language Acquisition at UIC from 2015.  When not teaching German, Miglena enjoys a good book and spending time with her family.


Veronika Roth joined the DANK Haus teacher's team in spring of 2016.   Raised in Lossburg, Baden Württemberg, Germany, Veronika first came to the US in 2002 as an Au Pair.  She returned as an international student in 2004 and earned an AA from COD, BA in English, BA in Teaching of German and MA in Germanic Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Since, Veronika hast taught the German language, culture, literature and history at High School, College and University levels and joined the DANK Haus team last Spring.  As her entire family still lives in Germany, Veronika uses every chance she gets to travel to Germany to reconnect with all her loved ones, her home country, beloved culture and dearly missed food.


Carina Staudte is “nordisch by nature” as she grew up in the most northern part of Germany.  She got her first taste of the US as an Au Pair in California, then studied Anglo-American Studies at the Martin-Luther Universität in Halle a.d. Saale, in Germany’s former east.  Carina is most interested in literature and cultural studies and has taught English and German to adult learners since her student days, and also loves to expand her own language skills in various language forms including American and German Sign Language.  She moved to Chicago around 2008, but bounced back and forth between the US and Germany to finish her PhD.  After having received the degree in 2013 she finally settled down in Chicago for good.


Shortly after moving to Chicago from his native Bavaria, Daniel joined the DANK Haus in Fall 2017. He received degrees in German & English Education from Universität Regensburg, with additional concentrations in Cultural Studies and Spanish. Prior to graduation, Daniel spent a year abroad in Nashville, Tennessee, working as a graduate teaching assistant at Vanderbilt University, where he first became acquainted with fried chicken, country music, and his future wife. In addition to foreign languages, Daniel is passionate about cooking, traveling, and Fußball (Bayern München – mia san mia!).

German American Cultural Center
4740 North Western Avenue 
Chicago, IL 60625

Connect with us

Office: +1 (773) 561-9181
Email: Dank@Dankhaus.com

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
DANK Haus German American Cultural Center does not discriminate based on race, color, sexuality, national origin, sex, disability or age.
©2017 DANK Haus. All rights reserved.

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