Tag Archives: San Diego

‘Kiepenkasper’ – Uwe Spillmann’s Puppetshow Visits San Diego

 Kiepenkasper - Uwe Spillmann‘Puppentheater auf zwei Beinen kommt nach San Diego’

Famous German hand puppet player Uwe Spillmann will be on US tour and has planned to make a stop in San Diego to enchant the California-German audience.

Kiepenkasper‘ keeps fascinating his audience of young and old since 15 years. He is present at all kinds of events and ‘Kasper’ has traveled the world! Mexico, Australia, Russia, and even Namibia as well as many other countries around the world are familiar with him and enjoy his shows.

January 2013 is the month to get a chance to meet Kiepenkasper in person right here in Southern California. Mr. Spillmann has agreed to an Open Air Performance at the Balboa Park near the House of Germany (part of the International Cottages).

Uwe Spillmann is writing his own scripts for his ‘Kiepenkasper’. Based on traditional puppet shows (‘Kasperltheater’) his performances bring a breeze of fresh air into this old tradition of puppet play. He usually performs two plays, each lasting about 20 minutes. During the break he entertains children and adults alike with tricks and exotic musical instruments.

Enjoy a performance on January 23 at 3pm at Balboa Park near the House of Germany in San Diego !

KIEPENKASPER with Uwe Spillmann

WHEN: January 23, 2013 at 3pm

Kiepenkasper: der Kaspar!

Kiepenkasper: der Kaspar! (Photo credit: Sørn)

WHERE: Weather permitting this will be an Open Air event, in front of the House of Germany at Balboa Park  : International Cottages, 2191 Pan American Rd, San Diego, CA

In case of rain the show will take place at Balboa Park, Hall of Nations, 2191 Pan American Rd. W , San Diego, CA 92101

COST: Please plan on giving your generous donations at the time of the event!

QUESTIONS:  Please email sdsaturdayschoolprincipal@yahoo.com



Albert Einstein Academies – A German-English Immersion Charter School in San Diego

The first school in our series on ‘German Schools in California’ is in San Diego. It is the Albert Einstein Academies, located in Southpark near Balboa Park with its many museums. 

From the outside looking like one of many other public schools there is nothing that suggests that this building hosts quite a different version of an American public school until one enters the school’s premises, and suddenly is greeted by murals depicting German “Fachwerkhäuser” and a “Brezen Bäckerei”.

Albert Einstein Academies, a Public Charter School, is one of only three schools in California that offer a K through 8 International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum, but the only one that offers a German-English immersion within this IB program . Since 2008 Albert Einstein Academies is also an official German Partner School (PASCH).

All the fabulous education this school has to offer is free!

Having started out in 2002 with only 24 students and in rented rooms of a church, the school has grown into over 800 students and is slowly growing out of its present school site. Initially just an elementary school, Albert Einstein Academies now offers also a middle school and is working on expanding into a High School as well.

The school has become very sought after in San Diego for its high academic standards, and since there is no school tuition for public schools, it makes the school evermore attractive! So if you live in the San Diego Unified school district, consider yourself lucky since you at least can apply to this popular school via an official lottery.

Birgit Schafer, elementary language coordinator at Albert Einstein Academies, is one of the school’s true veterans. She has witnessed the school’s growth since the very beginning. Her son was one of the first students to start first grade with only 24 other registered students at the newly opened school.  “We have just grown exponentially over the past years, and our success shows that we are on the right track. With our 9 out of 10 Academic Performance Index (API) we are among the top ten schools in the district wide ranking!”  says Mrs. Schafer. Applying to the school has become highly competitive and the waiting list is long. “We have about 300 children every year who we have to put on a waiting list” points out Mrs. Schafer. An official public lottery decides on the final admissions.

Priority is given to German-speaking students, but the selection process stays competitive also for them.

In order to guarantee the dual immersion program with the German language, the school is officially allowed to fill 25% of their over all applications from a pool of German-speaking applicants. You might therefore have a slight admission’s advantage if your child speaks German. But since applications by German speakers have equally increased over the years, a lottery makes the final decision also here. To be admitted into the pool of German speakers, students have to pass a special test that will determine German language fluency.  “This testing is difficult particularly for the younger children who are often shy”, so Mrs. Schafer, “but for an immersion school like ours, it is important to have fluent and native speakers in all classes. They are speech models in the immersion classes.” She further points out that, since the children not only learn speaking German through classroom instruction, but also from interaction with each other, it is critical to have a certain amount of German-speaking children in a class.

Walking through the school and visiting some classrooms I am in fact impressed by how much the German language is present in every classroom. This is particularly visible in the elementary classes K-5 where the dual immersion program guarantees that  “50 percent of the total instruction time including core subject instruction is taught exclusively in the German language” (ABE website). The instruction alternates between German and English on a weekly basis and is continuous.

Options for students planning to enter Albert Einstein Academies  at a higher grade level but speak little to no German.

The school has incorporated a “Foreign Language Pathway” class that academically goes along with the three regular German immersion classes in a particular grade level. Available from third grade on the “Foreign Language Pathway” class makes it not only possible for non-German speakers to join the school at a later time, but it also gives current students of an immersion class the option to withdraw from the immersion part, but still stay at the school, and enjoy the benefits of the unique IB program and an international community.

While the IB program continues throughout Middle School the Dual Immersion does not. In Middle School (6-8 grade), the students actually can decide on which language they would like to concentrate on, and can pick between German or Spanish. At the moment 220 of the 300 middle school children chose to continue with German while 80 students went on to study Spanish. To further deepen language skills in either language the school has a foreign language exchange program in place with a Gymnasium (High School) in Germany and a High School in Mexico.

But that’s not all.

Apart from the extraordinary language immersion opportunity for children, Albert Einstein Academies offers a well-rounded curriculum along the guidelines of the IB program incorporating California State Academic Standards. In addition to that an extensive after school program encourages all students to get involved in many other learning opportunities. From German Drama & Choir to German Soccer, Spanish Club, Mad Science, martial arts, yoga and much more. Special  workshops sponsored by the “Friends of Albert Einstein’s German Cultural Commitee” offer additional cultural immersion into Easter, Christmas and other German traditions.

Last personal impressions…

All the classrooms I visit have a very inviting, friendly learning atmosphere.  I admire one page essays by first-graders on the topic “Frühling”, written in such perfect German that I start wondering if I accidentally got lost in a second grade class.  Many of the classrooms feature a piano and as I am glancing at one of the music sheets I recall my own elementary school years learning songs like “Brüderchen komm tanz mit mir…” Another class displays projects on ‘life cycles’ and a 3rd grade made a collage on the topic “Umweltverschmutzung” (pollution).

Albert Einstein Academies  – definitely a school worth checking out!

Albert Einstein Academies (AEA) in short:

  • Tuition-free public charter school with dual language immersion in German-English
  • Accredited IB World School offering the IB program from K through 8th grade
  • Official German Partner School (PASCH) since 2008. The title is awarded by the German federal department of schools abroad a  PASH Model School
  • Admission to the school is by official public lottery
  • Students wear school uniform
  • AEA prepares for the German language diploma level A2 in 5th grade & level B1 in 8th grade
  • School features foreign exchange programs with Germany & Mexico in Middle School
  • Extensive German & English library on the school premises
  • Great catalog of after school activities offered 
  • Special German tutoring in place by German intern teachers
  • Special cultural enrichment assured through private foundation “Friends of Albert Einstein”

For more information visit the school’s website, http://www.aeacs.org or contact the school at:

Albert Einstein Academies
3035 Ash St.
San Diego, Ca. 92102
Phone: 619-795-1190

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Holiday Season At The Beach – Adventszeit Am Strand

Reconnect to the magic of Christmas a different way and find peace and tranquility despite the hectic that surrounds this busiest time of the year.

Winter time is a perfect time to spend at the beach. Especially if the weather is as beautiful as it was for the last few Advent weekends. One can spend hours walking on the sand without the summer crowds and just enjoy the waves crashing at the feet and watching the pelicans sail over the ocean. It’s perfect for reconnecting with your mind, soul and the elements.

Some beaches have special attractions for the holiday season like ice skating while watching the sunset over the ocean. Ice skating by the beach has become a tradition at the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego, the hotel where “Some Like It Hot” was filmed starring Marilyn Monroe.

Del Coronado’s beloved holiday tradition starts every year right after Thanksgiving.  The hotel has an ice rink set up right in front of the hotel’s beach promenade, looking over the beautiful wide, white beaches – the sand here by the way seems much softer and whiter than anywhere else in SoCal, so I found.  After the ice skating sessions one can relax with hot cocoa and other goodies at the coffee bar or the restaurant right at the promenade. It’s a great and fun time well spent with family and friends!

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Dia De Los Muertos

Old Town San Diego – Tour of over 40 Altars, Nov 1-2 , 2011 with a candlelight procession on Wednesday.

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What’s new – From German Movie “John Rabe”, Bertold Brecht & Beuys to Dinosaurs

Summer is finally here. I feel and know this time has come for sure when my kids are out of school and want to be entertained. When the floor in my house slowly feels like a beach in the making with all the sand and toys being carried in and out of the house.

But there is in fact some great stuff going on in and around LA:  The German movie “John Rabeby director Florian Gallenberger is out at the moment and can be seen in various theaters. It is “…a true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.” (IMDB). In the style of “Sophie Scholl – The final days”  it tries to draw a more in depth picture of the person, who is willing to sacrifice his own life for the many lives of others. In this case here John Rabe survives, but later life has been very harsh to him and he eventually died forgotten in poverty. John Rabe is impressively played by the great German actor Ulrich Tukur.  

If you feel more like theater then check out The Open Fist Theater in Los Angeles. On stage now, there is “The Good Woman of Setzuan” by Bertold Brecht. “The Open Fist Theatre Company presents a re-imagined version of Brecht’s classic play….The play is an alternately humorous and shocking look at how society deals with poverty and philanthropy.” (Goethe Institut) Perfomances: June 4 – July 17, 2010 – Fridays & Saturdays @ 8 pm, Sundays @ 7 pm –Tickets Adults $25 | Students & Seniors $20 – call (323) 882-6912

German Artist & Sculptor Joseph Beuys: The Multiples still shows at LACMA until July 18, 2010 on the third floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM). This exhibition features 572 of the artist’s works from the collection of The Broad Art Foundation. To get an impression of what this show has to offer and can communicate read an art review of “The Multiples” in The Student Life of Pomona College.

Music may not be missing in this potpourri of ‘How to kick of Summer’ around LA. The Summer Jazz concerts at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach will be starting June 25th . Tune in or buy your tickets online. It’s worth to make Newport Beach a day trip or stay for a weekend and enjoy the beaches around.

If you are staying around the beach, travel a bit more south and pay a visit to the Laguna Art Museum, which current show is “Art Shack”, presented by Hurley 30 different ‘shack-worlds’ will be featured. With some shacks including interactive components like video and music, this promises to be a fun art show.

For the kids there will be lots of attractions throughout the summer. To mention just a few famous ones, Disneyland in Anaheim, Legoland in Carlsbad, Sea World in San Diego are always sought after destinations, but let’s not forget the great museums around here. San Diego’s Natural History Museum will be kicking off its ‘Dinosaur Sundays‘ this June 28th, 11am-3pm.

“In celebration of the Museum’s current exhibition, Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries and our permanent exhibition, Fossil Mysteries, each Sunday afternoon will be dedicated to the mighty dinosaur. Meet dinosaur experts and friends, dig for fossils, create dinosaur art, and explore your love for all things dino! Dinosaur Sundays provide fun for the entire family.” (San Diego Natural History Museum website)

San Diego Natural History Museum is located in beautiful Balboa Park with plenty other museums to visit as well. Make it a great family outing. I am sure the kids will love it!

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