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UAB professor wins national award for teachers of German

  • January 22, 2021
Erika Hille Rinker was honored with the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation Teacher Award, which recognizes outstanding teachers of German in the United States who were not born and raised in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. 

Erika Hille RinkerRinker.2Erika Hille Rinker, Ph.D., Ph.D., was awarded the distinguished 2020 Checkpoint Charlie Foundation Teacher Award by the American Association of Teachers of German.

Rinker is an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She oversees all sections of German offered in the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Foreign Languages and Literatures and advises all German minors.

The Checkpoint Charlie Foundation Teacher Award recognizes outstanding teachers of German in the United States who were not born and raised in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. The award is presented annually to one K-12 and one college/university AATG member who strengthens intercultural understanding. The award includes a stipend for travel to Berlin to participate in the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation Enrichment Educational Program.

“I think one of the strengths of my nomination dossier was my description of our spring 2020 FLL 121 course and how it motivated me to want to know firsthand more about the period of German history I presented to our students,” Rinker said.

The trip, intended for June 2021, will support that work; in light of the pandemic, travel plans for this year remain uncertain.

“This is a very important, well-deserved recognition to Dr. Rinker’s outstanding work as a language and culture teacher,” said Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., professor of Spanish. “There is no doubt that her recognition is valuable for our department and for the college as well, especially at a time when universities have a global responsibility and a leading role in creating spaces conducive to increasing intercultural understanding.”  

Rinker is the third professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to receive a teaching award this academic year. Assistant Professor of Spanish John Maddox, Ph.D., recently received the Alabama World Languages Association 2021 Educator of Excellence award. This award recognizes educators at the community college, college and university levels who exemplify excellence in language teaching, leadership and advocacy at the local, state, regional or national level. In the fall, Assistant Professor of French Charly Verstraet, Ph.D., was named Best French Professor of the Year by the American Journal of French Studies for his mentorship and dedication to his students.

“These three awards in one year exemplify our faculty’s commitment to delivering the best education through first-rate instruction to our UAB students,” Sánchez-López said.