In the beginning, GIPA created and ran a Saturday school for German language classes open to the local community. It then worked with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) to expand the foreign language instruction concept into an International Studies magnet program. It evolved into the IS magnet programs offered today at public schools throughout the Miami-Dade county.
Parents first united in 1986 to provide German language and culture programs for their children growing up in Miami. They established the German School of South Florida Inc. as a non-profit parent organization. These days the parent organization is commonly known as the German International Parent Association (GIPA).
While the organization’s mission remains the same, its efforts today primarily focus on supporting and expanding the German international language magnets, GIPA helped the development at Sunset Elementary, G.W. Carver Middle and Coral Reef Senior High schools.
A top priority is to ensure a continued high academic standard and quality German instruction. To accomplish this, GIPA works directly with the M-DCPS, the German government and school administrators. Fundraisers, such as Oktoberfest, bolster its financial ability to provide instructional materials, classroom resources, education seminars for German language teachers, and teacher salary support.
In addition, it organizes German cultural events. Always in focus, the education of children in the German language.
Among GIPA’s Accomplishments:
Commitment from Miami-Dade County and Funds from Germany
After years of persistent effort, GIPA negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Germany and M-DCPS in June of 2001, whereby both stated their commitment to the International Studies program and Germany agreed to provide funding toward an additional German teacher.
Supplemental German Teachers
Using the German government’s funds as well as those raised by GIPA, the association provided an additional full-time German teacher to the program. GIPA also arranged for teacher interns to come from Germany and assist the programs’ teaching staff in the classroom.
GIPA launched its own website to provided prospective and current parents with information on the German international language programs, the schools which house them, and the faculty which support them. It also offers parents quick access to the weekly German homework assignments for Sunset and West Lab, as well as other informative links.
Every year, GIPA holds an Oktoberfest for families and friends, provides the traditional German Schultüten for new first grade students on their first day of school, offers fun treats for St. Nikolaus’ Day in December (Sunset only at this time), and puts on the the Karneval celebration in classrooms each March.
Cultural Exchange Trip to Germany
For over 20 years, the fifth grade German class at Sunset has organized an exchange trip with a school in Adenau, Germany. Typically, the German students from Adenau come to Miami in the spring (March/April) and the Sunset students visit Adenau in June.
Extensive Classroom Resources
GIPA arranged for the donation and installation of high-speed telecommunications lines and hardware at Sunset Elementary and Carver Middle, including about a dozen personal computers for Sunset. This would otherwise have cost the schools more than $100,000. This technology enables students to conduct faster online research and watch television broadcasts from Germany. GIPA also provided all three schools with PAL-compatible/multi-region VCRs and DVD players so that videotapes and DVDs from Germany can be used in the classroom.
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