Bärbel E. Thoens-Masghati, adjunct German language faculty, has been named College of DuPage's Overall Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Member for 2011-12.
Representing the Liberal Arts Division, Thoens-Masghati will receive a $500 award from the College of DuPage Foundation, which annually recognizes outstanding teaching achievement at the College.
The Naperville resident was born in Nauen, located outside of Berlin in what was then East Germany. Her parents, who were political refugees, brought Thoens-Masghati to the United States through the World Christian Organization.
Interestingly enough, it was another European culture that fascinated Thoens-Masghati.
"I always wanted to study French," she said. "I had this desire to go to Paris. However, when I finally became curious about Germany, I knew I wanted to learn more."
Thoens-Masghati earned a bachelor's degree in German and French at Hope College, where she spent one year studying at the University of Munich. She then received a master's degree in German Languages and Literature at Wayne State University and completed post-graduate work at Ohio State University. While at Hope, she taught German for one semester and was a teaching assistant at both Wayne State and Ohio State.
"As a teacher, I like sharing experiences, and with languages you can share both the language and the culture," she said.
When her husband was transferred to Chicago, Thoens-Masghati became a stay-at-home mom to their three daughters. During this time, she volunteered at her daughters' school and, in 1995, began working as a substitute teacher in English, social studies and languages within Naperville Community Unit School District 203.
She subsequently taught German at Washington and Jefferson junior high schools in Naperville. During this time, she was approached to teach the German conversation and composition sequence at College of DuPage. She accepted and slowly began adding more sections of German classes at COD while juggling other assignments, including one year of teaching German at Plainfield South High School.
Currently Thoens-Masghati teaches four different German courses at College of DuPage. In addition to her classroom duties, she is the coordinator of the year-long Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program at COD. Thoens-Masghati arranges and monitors the local home stays of German CBYX students and helps them with course selection and cultural adaptation.
"The world does not revolve around one language or culture, so it's important to embrace and learn more about other cultures, even if it's learning a few simple things," she said. "That's one reason why language study is so important."