Kristen Suberg, Direktor

My name is Kirsten Suberg, I was born and raised in northern Germany, by the North Sea, and I loved sailing the East Frisian Islands with my dad. Growing up I was very fortunate that my parents traveled all over Europe with me. Through that exposure I developed a very strong passion for languages and cultures. My studies abroad eventually settled me in upstate New York. There I began my teaching career almost eighteen years ago. I have been a class teacher and a German teacher. My passion, still to this day, is to teach the German language and culture, but most importantly I love to create an authentic learning experience for my students. Presenting students with a language immersion is a phenomenal experience, which is the reason I am so excited about the Deutschakadenmie, at the Virginia Governor’s World Language Academies. I knew I wanted to be able to create an environment that I had experienced during my studies abroad. Being a part of a complete immersion gives the opportunity to dive into an experience to be able to speak in the language, think and sometimes dream in the language. Last year I was the Lead Teacher and I am thrilled to be the Director this year and bring my experiences and talents into this program to create a fun filled, exciting and authentic language immersion program.
Samantha Vasquez, Haupt-Lehrerin

My name is Samantha Vasquez and I am currently a German teacher for Loudoun County Public schools. I earned a BA in International Business and a BAFL in German from Virginia Tech, and have just finished my MEd in curriculum and instruction from George Mason University. My family is from Tübingen, Germany, and will use any excuse to say that Baden-Württemberg is the only state worth visiting in there. I am extremely passionate about languages and traveling, and enjoy looking at the ‘so what’ with my students; why is this important to me, and when will I use it in my everyday life? I am excited to be creative and have fun with the language through this program!
Johnatan Wilkey, Lehrer

My name is Johnatan Wilkey, German teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools. I avidly follow the German Bundesliga. My favorite soccer club is Borussia Dortmund. (Heja BVB! Schwarz gelb allez!) I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.A. in German. I am the Vorplatter of Richmond’s traditional german dancing group, the Hirschjäger. (Insert Juchzer) My mom and her side of the family moved to Germany from Poland forty years ago. My mom and grandparents live in the town of Hanau, 20 minutes outside of Frankfurt. On my yearly trips to visit my family, I have also spent extended periods of time in Austria and Switzerland with a day trip to Liechtenstein for good measure. In my free time I like to hike, bike, run, play soccer and play video games (zocken). I am super excited to share my passion for German with everyone.
Barbara Okker Hassell, Lehrerin

I am a native of Stuttgart, Germany and have been a German teacher at the high school and college levels for 26 years. My husband and I have three sons and nine grandchildren. My passions in life are spending time with my children and grandchildren, cooking, and gardening. My husband and I have lived in Roanoke, Virginia for a little over forty years.

Alan Strecker, Lehrer

I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio and have been living in Roanoke, Va. for the last 17 years, where I have been a high school German teacher. Besides teaching German, I am a Tennis coach, Scholastic Bowl coach and Chess coach for the High School. I have many different interests; including, but not limited to playing golf, tennis, chess, and cards. Traveling is always on top of my list, especially when I take my students on exchange trips or take adults on my adult trips to Germany; hopefully, we can travel again in 2022.


Meredith Lemke, Lead Betreuer

My name is Meredith Lemke and I am a former participant of Virginia German Foreign Language Academy 2017! I was inspired to become a Deutschakademie Betreuerin by my excitement to share my interests, knowledge, anecdotes, and passion for Germany with motivated students. Attending the Deutschakademie opened so many opportunities for me by raising my confidence in speaking German and by solidifying my interest in Germany and International Relations. Two of my Deutschakademie Betreuerinnen inspired me to apply and attend the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange, an 11 month study abroad program in Germany, from 2018-2019. Now I am studying International Relations, taking German courses, and teaching German 102 as a Teacher’s Assistant at the College of William & Mary. I am also the head editor for William & Mary's German Newspaper. Die Zeitung. I am very passionate about German culture, music, diversity, politics, and of course the German language itself. I learned so much about German culture by meeting new people in Germany and by integrating myself into a German family and school. Those experiences drive me to share the many interesting sides of German life and the interesting similarities and differences between American and German culture! In 2017, I was inspired by the interests and stories my Betreuerinnen shared. Now I cannot wait to help create the same wonderful experiences and motivation I received in 2017 for a new group of students.
Doan Bui, Betreuer

Hallo! My name is Doan (pronounced like Dawn), and I am a senior student studying biochemistry and German at Washington and Lee University. I love both science and language learning because science challenges my critical-thinking skills while languages enable me to engage in meaningful discourse with others. I have been learning German since high school, and I have had the opportunity to study as an exchange student in Berlin and Bayreuth. While abroad I picked up many nuances that I hope to share with students to improve both language and cultural understandings. I love listening to German pop music and watching German films. My current favorite German series is Dark from Netflix. I am excited for the 2021 Deutschakademie and to meet everyone!
Eva Nelson, Betreuer

Hi! My name is Eva Nelson and I am a rising senior at Christopher Newport University. I have been involved with the Virginia Governor's Academy for many years now, first as a student, and now going on my third year as a counselor. I am very passionate about the German language and culture and am so excited for yet another fun filled summer of learning and speaking the language. A few things about me are that I love baking, taking walks and Broadway musicals.
Tiernan Gatsby, Betreuer

My name is Tiernan Gatsby, and I'm so excited to be a Betreuerin for this year's Deutschakademie! I am a rising sophomore at the College of William & Mary studying Environmental Policy and International Relations. Though I didn't participate in the academy when I was in high school, I learned to speak German during my foreign exchange year in Germany through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange. This opportunity allowed me the chance to live in Germany and become intimately familiar with the German culture and language. Additionally, I learned firsthand how effective total immersion is for language learning- I can't wait for you to see that, too!

My year abroad instilled in me a passion for German, and I am so grateful for the chance to pass that on to you. I look forward to a wonderful 3 weeks with you all!

Natalie McGhee, Betreuer

My name’s Natalie and I’m a rising sophomore at Georgetown University majoring in Linguistics! This is my first year as a Betreuerin and I’m super excited to get to share my passion for German language and culture with you all this summer! I was a participant of the VA Governor’s Spanish Academy in 2018, but since I was never a part of the German Academy in high school this is going to be a completely new experience for me :). The Spanish Academy is actually what led me to German, because that’s where I learned about the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program that sends 250 US high school students to Germany each year. I applied for and completed that exchange and I loved it so much that I decided to continue learning German at my college and to come back to Washington and Lee to try to give you guys as amazing of an experience as I had! Right now, I’m taking two German literature classes, one about love in German literature and one about murder and insanity in literature, as well as an American Sign Language class.