Mrs. Stevenson Named Teacher of the Year


Indu Vaddiparti

Mrs Tanya Stevenson, teacher of German at Morris Hills High school, recently had the honor of being named Morris Hills Teacher of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year. The entire Morris Hills community can agree that this was a well deserved award. Mrs Stevenson’s involvement with German classes at four different levels, the German Club, and the German Foreign Exchange Program all make a her an extremely gifted teacher; the school is lucky to have her.

As a child, Mrs Stevenson was often in touch with her German heritage. She grew up in Bergen County and constantly travelled to Germany, visiting Kassel and Munich. She recalls happy and vivid memories from her adventures with her family.

While Mrs Stevenson remained close to German at heart, her true passion for the language only developed as she began her college days. Mrs. Stevenson was motivated by her professors at the University of Minnesota, who taught her the beauty of the language and literature. “I had the opportunity to study in Salzburg, Austria during my senior year as an undergraduate and the first year of graduate school,” she stated. This experience has linked Mrs Stevenson to the German language in inexplicable ways.

Living in Germany as an au pair during this time of her life, Mrs Stevenson fell in love with the beautiful cities of Munich, Germany and Salzburg, Austria. “I finally understood what it was like to not just visit as a tourist, but rather as someone who began to understand the language more in order to get to know the people there better,” she explained. Meeting people from such different parts of the world has changed Mrs Stevenson as a person, and the friendships and relationships she made abroad will always stay with her.

The experience only increased the love Mrs Stevenson had developed for the German language in college. It has also allowed her to analyze the language and view it from lenses she has never looked through before. Her favorite part of the German language is the fact that it has an array of specific words to express thoughts and ideas; Mrs Stevenson loves the way German literature and art has had a lasting impact on the world as a whole. “The impact of German culture is truly remarkable,” she muses.

It was only a matter of time before Mrs Stevenson took the language to the next level. She completed her undergraduate degree in German at the University of Minnesota, her Masters Degree in Germanics at Bowling Green State University, and has earned her Ph.D. Candidacy in Germanics at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has had a total teaching experience of 19 years.

Currently at Morris Hills, Mrs Stevenson juggles four different German level classes. “It is indeed challenging at times, but I love teaching various levels,” she admitted. “On B days, I go from teaching topics like family, to fairy tales and communication, to the theme of media.” Mrs. Stevenson has confidently accepted the challenge of teaching four different levels of German and has impressed Morris Hills in doing so. She uses innovative teaching techniques to deepen her students’ understanding of the German language, and uses all of her energy to increase her students’ love of German. Mrs. Stevenson has a connection with her students and does an excellent job of highlighting a student’s strengths and weaknesses. She does her best to expose her students to foreign culture and teach them the art of mastering a foreign language.

Outside of school, Mrs. Stevenson spreads her mother tongue on a daily basis. “I also speak German with my children!” she joked. She also has great ambitions for the future. “Maybe someday I will start my own language school!”. It doesn’t seem possible for a single teacher to accomplish as much as Mrs Tanya Stevenson has. She has had a wonderful impact on her students and on Morris Hills, making her well-suited for the title of Teacher of the Year.