GISC Important Dates

January 2017
3rd First Day of School in 2017
16th Martin Luther King Day

February 2017
17th Staff Development Day
20th Presidents' Day

March 2017
8th-10th Parent Teacher Conferences
17th Staff Development Day

April 2017
10th-17th Spring Break
29th Spring Gala

May 2017
19th Grandparents' Day
26th Staff Development Day
29th Memorial Day

31st Spring Concert & Art Show

June 2017
9th, 12th, 13th Parent Teacher Conferences
16th End-of-Year Picnic & Last Day of School

June 17th - August 21st Summer Break

August 2017
1st Swiss National Day
20th Welcome and Welcome Back to GISC Party

22nd First Day of School

*Red = No School


Open Houses 2017:
Day: Thursdays
10:00 am - 12:00 noon

January 5th and 19th 

February 2nd and 16th 

March 2nd, 16th, and 30th 

Faculty and Staff

School Management Team

Petra Obritzberger
Petra Obritzberger - Assistant Director


Petra Obritzberger hails from Austria.

M.S. (Educational Supervision and Schoolbuilding Leadership; graduating in May 2017), Mercy College New York.2000, Dipl.-Päd. and  Teacher Certification (English, Geography, Economics), Pädagogische Akademie der Erzdiözese Wien. 2008, Teacher Certification for Michigan (Language Arts, Mathematics, German). 2007, Training as a Rescue Diver.

2000-2007, Teacher in Middle School (5. – 8. Klasse) in Wien. 2007-2009, Teacher for German (Grade 1), German Language Center, Bloomfield Hills ,MI. 2009 – 2010, Teacher (Grades 2-4), The International School, Farmington Hills, MI. 2009-2011, Teacher (Grade 3), Deutsche Schule Ann Arbor, MI. 2003-2007, Tour Guide for groups of Austrian students to Great Britain, Malta, Slowenia.

Languages: German, English. At GISC since 2011.

Katharina Koch
Katharina Koch
IB Coordinator and Teacher

Katharina Koch grew up in Mannheim and Augsburg.

2013, Illinois Professional Educator License for English and German, Grades 6-12.  2011, Second Teaching Certificate for English and German at Secondary Schools, Grades 5-12 (Zweites Staatsexamen für die Laufbahn des Höheren Schuldienstes an Gymnasien), Baden-Württemberg, Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport. 2009, First Teaching Certificate for English and German at Secondary Schools Grades 5-12 ( Erstes Staatsexamen), Albert-Ludwig-Universität, Freiburg. 2008, M. A. (European Comparative Literary Studies), University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.

2013-14, German Teacher (Grades 6-8), Community School Unit District 200, Woodstock, IL. 2012-13, Financial Aid Advisor, Career Education Cooperation, Schaumburg, IL. 2010-11, Instructor for ESL and German Grades 5-12, Peter-Petersen-Gymnasium, Mannheim. 2009, German Language and Culture Instructor, English Opens Doors, Santiago, Chile.

Languages: German, English, Spanish. Teaching Subjects: English, German.

Nathalie Kohlhaas
Nathalie Kohlhaas  
Co-Head of Pre-School and Teacher

Nathalie Kohlhaas hails from Berlin, but grew up as a diplomat’s child in Instanbul, Ankara, and Moskow.

2011 State Certified Preschool Teacher (Staatlich geprüfte Erzieherin), Fachschule für Sozialpädagogik, Pestalozzi-Fröbel Haus, Berlin.

2011-2014, Preschool Teacher, Kinderladen Karl und Karla e.V., Berlin. Internship in Wroclaw, Poland: 2010, ENTE Centrum Wspolpracy Europejskiej. Internships in Berlin: 2010, City-Initiative für Eltern- und Kinderprojekte; 2009-10, JFE Gartenhaus an der Marie; 2008-09, S.O.S. Kinderdorf; 2009, Karl und Karla; 2008-09; 2007-08, KITA Elfenland.

Languages: German, English, French, Turkish.

 Danica Polanski
Danica Polanski
Co-Head of Pre-School and Teacher

Danica Polanski comes from Hamburg.

2014, M.A. (Bilingual-Bicultural Education), DePaul University, Chicago, IL; 2011, B.A. and  Illinois Teaching Certificate for K-9 , Concordia University, River Forest, IL.

2006-2011, Nanny for children ages 7 months to 12 years  including several children with learning difficulties (ADS, ADHS, autism)for several families in the Chicago area.

Languages: German, English.

Michelle Ernst, PhDMichelle Ernst

Director of Extracurricular Programs

Michelle Ernst grew up in Missouri

Ph. D., 2001 (Developmental Psychology, Statistics), Loyola University, Chicago, IL. 1998, M.A. (Developmental Psychology), Loyola University, Chicago, IL. 1993, B. A. (Psychology) University of Missouri at Columbia, Columbia, MO.

2009-2012, Senior Researcher, Chapin Hall, Center for Children at University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. 2001-2009 Senior Research Scientist, National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago (NORC). 2003-2009, Instructor of Research Methodology, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, Chicago, IL. 1999-2000, Instructor of Statistic, Loyola University, Chicago, IL

Languages: English, German, Spanish.

Heather Hyde

Development Associate & Office Coordinator

Heather Hyde grew up in North Carolina.

2017, M.A. Candidate, Human Services, Wake Forest University. 2012, B.A., Environmental Studies, minor in Spanish, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

2017-Present, Development Associate & Office Coordinator, GISC. 2015-2016, Program Coordinator, Sealants for Smiles. 2014-2015, Database Manager and Employment Counselor, NCNG Education and Employment Center. 2014, Program Coordinator, Clinton Health Access Initiative. 2013-2014 AmeriCorps VISTA and Resource Development Coordinator, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula.

Languages: English and Spanish.

Sonja Manhart
Frau Sonja Manhart

Finance & Office Coordinator

Sonja Manhart grew up in Kanton St. Gallen.

1986, Certificate of Proficiency in English, English Language Institute, Dublin. 1983,Diplom in Business (Handelsdiplom), Kantonschule Sargans, Kanton St. Gallen.

1996-2014, Administrator, Schweizerisches Generalkonsulat, Chicago, IL. 1992-96, Administrator, Schweizerisches Generalkonsulat, Johannesburg, South Africa. – 1991-92, Administrative Intern (Konsulardienstanwärterin), Schweizerisches Generalkonsulat, Marseille, France. 1990-91, Administrative Intern (Konsulardienstanwärterin), Eidgenössisches Departement für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten, Bern. 1986-90, Secretary (Sekretärin), Prime Computer (Schweiz) AG, Zürich. 1983-85, Secretary (Sekretärin) Schweizerische Lebensversicherungs- und Rentenanstalt, Zürich.

Languages: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish.

Katharina Pohl

Katharina Pohl

Marketing & Office Coordinator

Katharina Pohl was born and raised in Wuppertal.

2011, M.A., American Studies and Latin American Studies, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. 2007, B.A., Intercultural Studies and Economics, University of Duisburg-Essen.

2016-Present, Marketing & Office Coordinator, GISC. 2015-2016, Executive Assistant & Project Manager, Egon Zehnder, Düsseldorf. 2013-2015, Label Executive, Cable Car Records, Wuppertal. 2011-2013, Assistant to the Consul General, Austrian Consulate General Chicago, IL. 2005-2011, various internships during M.A. and B.A. programs, among others, GoetheInstitut Chicago, Consulate General of Switzerland in Chicago, Synergie2x, Falk PR, Heinz-Magazin, as well as Graduate Assistant, Equal Opportunities Office and Family Support Center of the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf.

Languages: German, English, Spanish, French.

Preschool Faculty

Anika Höppner

Anika Hoppner

Anika Höppner hails from Bad Oldesloe.

2014, Certification Psychomotor Education for Children (Psychomotorik/Motopädagogik für Kinder), Fachschule für Motopädagogik, Neumünster. 2013, State Certified Preschool Teacher (Staatlich anerkannte Erzieherin), Fachschule für Sozialpädagogik, IBAF, Rendsburg. Germany. 2008, State Certified Physician Assistant (Arzthelferin), Gemeinschaftspraxis Hagenstraße, Bad Oldesloe.

2016-Present, Preschool, Kindegarten & Elementary School Teacher, GISC. 2014-2016 Preschool Teacher, Evangelische Kindertagesstätte Rethwisch, Schleswig Holstein. 2013, Preschool Teacher, Don Bosco, Haus für das behinderte Kind e.V. 2011-2013, Physician Assistant , Dialysezentrum Bad Oldesloe. 2008-2011, Physician Assistant, Gemeinschaftspraxis Hagenstraße Allgemeinmedizin, Bad Oldesloe.

Languages: German, English.

Saskia Huston


Saskia Huston was born in Heilbronn.

2016, State Certified Preschool Teacher (Staatlich anerkannte Erzieherin), Mathilde-Planck-Schule Ludwigsburg. 2011, Office Administrator (Ausbildung zur Bürokauffrau), Ludwigsburg.

2016-Present, Preschool Teacher, GISC. 2013–2016, Preschool Teacher, Kinderhaus Lummerland, Sachsenhausen bei Ludwigsburg. 2011–2013, Office Administrator, Ludwigsburg.

Languages: German, English.

Katharina Schyschka Katharina Schyschka was born in Poland and grew up in Germany.

2005, State Certified Preschool Teacher (Staatlich anerkannte Erzieherin), Berufsfachschule für Sozialwesen Berlin-Charlottenburg.

2016-Present, Preschool Teacher, GISC. 2012-2016, Preschool Teacher, Kinder- und Jugendheim Haus Gabriel, Speyer. 2010-2012, Preschool Teacher, WELT-MIR, Berlin. 2006-2007, Preschool Teacher, KLAX , Berlin. 2005-2006, Au-Pair, Minnesota.

Languages: German, Polish, English, Spanish.

 Karola TrockenbrodtKarola Trockenbrodt Karola Trockenbrodt grew up in Aschaffenburg.

1997, State Certified Nurse (Staatlich Geprüfte Krankenschwester), Regierung von Unterfranken, Würzburg, Bayern.

2013-14, Caregiver, Best In-Home Services Inc., Northbrook, IL. 2012-2013, Nurse at Neurology/Neurosurgery Critical Care Unit, Klinikum Aschaffenburg, Aschaffenburg. 1997-2012, Nurse at Neurology Ward, Klinikum Aschaffenburg, Aschaffenburg.

Languages: German, English.

Danny Rahnefeld-Kratsch



Danny Rahnefeld-Kratsch was born and raised in Gera.

After being trained and working as a print media technologist for 23 years, he decided to follow his passion for working with children. Danny gained experience by working at summer camps and as a babysitter. In 2014, he successfully completed a 6 month full time internship at a Kindergarten in his hometown to prepare for his training to become a preschool teacher. Next to working at GISC, he is continuing his education and currently studying Early Childhood Education at CCEI (Child Care Education Institute).

Languages: German, English.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Faculty

Cornelia Babbitt

Cornelia Babbitt

Cornelia Babbitt hails from Ohio.

1977, Artistic Diplom in Cello (Künstlerische Reifeprüfung in Cello), Prof. Andre Navarra, Musikhochschule Detmold, Detmold. 1975, State Certified Music Teacher (StMP) (Staalich Geprüfte Musiklehrerin), Musikhochschule Detmold, Detmold.

1977-Present, Cellist with various orchestras and ensembles: Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Substitute), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Substitute), Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Piano Trio, Concertante di Chicago, CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Orion Chamber Ensemble, Kammerorchester Tibor Varga, Orchester des Südwestdeutschen Rundfunks, Orchester des Bavaria Film Studios, Ensemble International des Huits Violoncellistes. Accompanying orchestra for: Ray Charles, Julio Iglesias, Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Languages: German, English. Teaching Subject: Music.

 Anna Brooks

Anna Brooks

Anna Brooks was born and raised Witten.

2014, M.Ed (Master in Elementary Education), Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL; 2011, AAB (Associate of Arts in Business), University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona; 2009, BSB/MKT (Bachelor of Science in Business with concentration in Marketing), University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona.

2006-2011, Telephone Operator and Administrative Assistant at the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Chicago, IL. – May-October 2002, Volunteer at Lombadina Aboriginal Community, Western Australia.
February-April 2002, Farm Hand and Nanny for
Family Markey in New South Wales, Australia.

Languages: German, English, French.

Linda Dumele

Linda Dumele

Linda Dumele grew up in Ludwigshafen am Rhein.

2013, State Certified Second Teaching License for German, Arts, and Social Studies at Elementary Schools and Middle Schools, grades 1-9 (Zweites Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Grund- und Hauptschulen), Pädagogisches Seminar Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg. 2011, State Certified Teaching License for German as a Foreign Language, Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg. 2011, State Certified First Teaching License for German, Arts, and Social Studies at Elementary Schools and Middle Schools, grades 1-9 (Erstes Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Grund- und Hauptschulen), Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg.

2013-2016, Classroom Teacher and Co-Head of the School’s Executive Board (Schulleitungsteam), Elementary School Hohentengen, Baden-Württemberg, grades 1-6. 2011-2013, Teacher, Elementary School Waldshut-Tiengen, Baden-Württemberg. 2012, Teacher for German as a Foreign Language, Goethe-Institut Schwäbisch Hall and Goethe-Institut Frankfurt (summer/winter courses). 2009, April-October, internship, Kinderhaus (German Preschool), San Francisco, CA.

Languages: German, English.

Laura EddelbüttelLaura Eddelbüttel

Laura Eddelbüttel is from Hamburg.

2013, M.A. (German Studies), Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. 2011, Studies in Media, Art and Communication, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI. 2010, B.A. (Art, Music, Media), Philipps-Universität, Marburg.

2011-2013, Teaching Assistant, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. 2008-2012, Assistant to Arts Manager in the Communication Department, Hypo Vereinsbank, Hamburg. 2009, TV Editor, Fernsehmacher, Hamburg. 2007, TV Editor, MTV Media, Helsinki (Finland).

Languages: German, English, Finnish, French. Teaching Subjects: Mathematics, Social Sciences/History.

Mike HelfmannMike Helfmann


Mike Helfmann hails from Bielefeld.

2009, Teaching Certificate for English as a Second Language (ESL, K-12), Texas State Board for Educator Certification Standard, Austin, TX. 2005, Teaching Certificate for Special Education (K-12), Texas State Board for Educator Certification Standard, Austin,TX. 2002, B. A. (Psychology), St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX

2011-2012, German Teacher, Language Stars, Washington, DC. 2004-2010, Teacher for Disadvantaged Students (elementary & middle School), Leander Independent School District, Cedar Park, TX. 2003-2004, Teaching Assistant for Disadvantaged Students, Austin Independent School District, Austin, TX. 2000-2002, Teaching Assistant, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX..2000-2002, Teaching Assistant, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX. 1994-1999, Early Childhood Special Intervention Specialist, Austin Travis County MHMR. 1992-1993,  Integrationspecialist for children with disabilities, Montessori Kinderhaus, Bielefeld.

Languages: German, English. Teaching Subjects: English, Natural Sciences.

Nelia JanikNelia Janik


Nelia Janik is from Bonn.

2005-2007, Course Work (French, Art), Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago. 2008-2010, Studies in Interior Design, Harrington College of Design, Chicago, IL

2002-2008, Interpreter for English, German, Spanish and Italian for several international Organisations. Since 2003, music performances, recordings and Song Writer in Latin American and Popmusic in Germany and USA; Singer with various bands and orchestras in Chicago. 2008-2011, German Teacher, Language Stars, Chicago, IL, Inlingua, Chicago, IL.

Languages: German, English, Spanish, Italian. Teaching Subject: Art.

Inka Kirchenbüchler, PhD

Inka Kirchenbuechler

Inka Kirchenbüchler hails from Lüneburg.

2016, Teaching License for Mathematics and Natural Sciences. 2011, Ph. D. (Dr. rer. nat.), Research Center Jülich / Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn. 2008, Diploma in Physics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.

2016-Present, Elementary School Teacher, GISC. 2015-2016, Mathematics and Science Teacher (5th and 6th Grades), Integrierte Gesamtschule Nienburg. 2012-2014, Postdoctoral Fellow, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. 1999-2009, Flight Attendant, Lufthansa German Airlines. 1998-99, Au Pair, Millersville, MD.

Languages: German, English.

Marianne SerexMarianne Serex


Marianne Serex is from Kanton Thurgau in Switzerland.

2012. Certificate of English Four-Course ESL Curriculum, DePaul University, Chicago, IL. 2000,  Diplome for Teaching French as a Foreign Language (Diplôme d’aptitude à l’enseignement du français langue étrangère), Ecole des Français Moderne, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne. 1998, Certificate in French Language, Litterature and Civilisation (Certificat de langue, de littérature et de civilisation françaises), Ecole de Français Moderne, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne. 1997, License for Dyscalculia- and Legasthenytherapy (Zusatzausbildung für Dyskalkulie- und Legasthenietherapie und Spezielle Förderung), Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerweiterbildung Kanton Luzern, Luzern. 1983, Certificat as Legastheny Therapist (Legasthenie-Therapeutin), Sanitäts- und Erziehungsdepartement des Kanton Thurgau, Frauenfeld. 1979-80, French Language Studies (Séjour linguistique), Université de la Sorbonne, Paris. 1975, Teaching Certificate for K-6 (Wählbarkeitszeugnis für Primarlehrer), Erziehungsdepartement des Kanton Thurgau.

2006-11, Tutor for German as a second language, preschool-high school and adults, Le Mont-sur-Lausanne VD. 2000-06, Teacher for German as a second language, grades 5-9, Etablissement Scolaire de Savigny-Forel, Vaud. 1989-96, Teacher for special needs students (Dyslexia, Dyscalculia), grades 2-6, Primarschule Cham, Zug. 1975-81, Elementary School Teacher, grades 1-3, Primarschule Bischofszell, Thurgau.

Languages: German, French, English. Teaching Subjects: French, German as a second language.

Extra-Curricular Activities/After Care