A teacher at North Berwick High School has been named ‘German Teacher of the Year’ by the German Embassy in London.

My language skills have opened many doors for me, and I have made great friends and wonderful memories all over the world.

Suzanne Ritchie was recognised for her “outstanding dedication to and tireless support of the teaching of the German language”. Dr Susanne Frane, Deputy Head of Culture and Education at the Embassy in London congratulated Miss Ritchie on her “impressive commitment inside and outside [her] classroom every day”. Education Scotland has described the award as a very high accolade.

The German Teacher Award has been running for sixteen years to recognise champions of the German language. Suzanne was encouraged to enter by Ann Robertson, who leads East Lothian Council’s 1+2 languages development programme. 

A former Musselburgh Grammar School student, Suzanne lived and worked abroad for several years after university, mainly translating for the football organisation, FIFA, in Zurich. In 2006 she decided to retrain as a teacher and joined North Berwick High School in 2007. 

Suzanne said: “I was surprised and delighted when I found out that I had been chosen as one of the German Teacher Award recipients for 2020. 

“Languages have fascinated me since I was small. My grandfather was a Franco-Polish immigrant to Scotland and he could speak four languages: Polish, French, German and English. I just thought that this was an amazing skill to have!

“My language skills have opened many doors for me, and I have made great friends and wonderful memories all over the world but, of all the jobs that I have had, I found that working with young people gave me the most joy. This is why I became a teacher.

“I have been mentored by so many experienced teachers across East Lothian, some of whom have since retired, and I have learned a great deal from them all. I currently lead a dynamic department of committed language teachers and we aspire to foster in our pupils the same sense of wonder that we feel for language learning and to open their eyes to the world of possibilities out there for them.”

North Berwick High School Head Teacher Lauren Rodger said: “Suzanne fully deserves to be recognised with the German Teacher Award 2020 and I am absolutely thrilled for her. Her passion for the German language is clear to all. She has an innate ability to foster a love of the language in her pupils: her enthusiasm is infectious! Suzanne is an outstanding teacher. She enjoys finding innovative approaches to engage her pupils and they love her lessons. She also promotes the value of learning languages to pupils more widely beyond NBHS, with her valuable work as Lead Teacher for Modern Languages on the Regional Improvement Collaborative.

“She is professional, committed, enthusiastic and creative in everything she does. Her own passion for German has led to many young people having a very positive experience of learning the language and, for many, coming to love German themselves. I believe she is a very worthy recipient of this Award.”

Published: Tuesday, 24th November 2020