PETERBOROUGH — ConVal Regional High School teacher Cindi Hogdgon was recently recognized with a prestigious national award for German educators, but it seems her mother’s keen eye deserves at least a bit of credit.
Twenty-six years ago, on a Sunday, her mother noticed a job listing for a German-teaching position at Hollis Brookline High School. Meanwhile, Hogdgon — who had spent all of college and two years of high school studying German, but hadn’t considered teaching — had already completed an application for the Peace Corps and was set to mail it out on Monday.
“Well, you can send the application on Tuesday,” Hogdgon recalled her mother saying. She never mailed out that Peace Corps application, as she interviewed for and accepted the teaching job before she ever made it to the post office.
Fast forward to 2021, and Hogdgon, who is in her 10th year at the Peterborough high school, was recognized in a virtual ceremony by the American Association of Teachers of German with the Outstanding German Educator Award. The Amherst resident was one of three recipients of the award, the other two being educators at a middle school and university, respectively.
“It was quite an honor,” Hogdgon said. “... Just to be recognized for doing something that I love to do anyway was pretty moving for me as well.”
Established in 1929, the American Association of Teachers of German is a network for German instructors of all levels that seeks to bring the language, literature and culture to American Learners.
Nominated candidates for the Outstanding German Educator Award are those who have demonstrated excellence and creative leadership in German education, according to the organization’s website. Officials with the group were not available this week to clarify how many nominees there were for this year’s award, or how the recipients were selected.
Hogdgon teaches a range of levels at ConVal, from first-year up through advanced placement. She is a force behind the school’s robust German program, which sends students to German immersion events across the country, provides opportunities for students to use their skills in the community, and, during the pandemic, has been organizing “virtual field trips” to connect with professionals. (Next week, her German I students can look forward to writing a song with a German artist.)
ConVal is also one of only 13 schools nationwide to be accepted into the Goethe-Institute-sponsored “Schools: Partners for the Future” global network. The program (abbreviated to PASCH in German) comprises schools that serve as “role models” for German programs in their respective regions, Hogdgon said. By being a part of PASCH, ConVal German students have the opportunity to participate in an exchange program in Salzburg, Austria and other immersive language experiences.
It’s important to show students that not only can they learn the language, they can use it in many different ways, Hogdgon said.
“What we do, it’s not just teaching kids another language,” she said. “Its another way to look at the world.”
Before the pandemic, students would spend time in nursing homes and senior centers, sharing presentations on Oktoberfest and German fairy tales. Some of her more advanced students have taken on impressive projects, such as learning to code in German or participating in a no-English-allowed science fair.
Beyond the walls of ConVal, Hogdgon is actively involved in the greater community of German educators. She is the president of the New Hampshire Association of World Language teachers; a coach for the nonprofit Goethe Institute, helping other German educators with curriculum development and classroom management.
She is also one of 12 German Education Multipliers in the country who, in coordination with the Goethe Institute and American Association of Teachers of German, serve as a resource for German learners and educators across the country.
Of Hogdon’s 30-page application for the award, 26 pages were composed of letters from people she has worked with in her teaching career.
“Having all those letters — especially during COVID times — it was so good for my heart,” she said. “It just provided some joy and affirmation that what we do matters as teachers.”