Staff / Career



We are always looking for qualified candidates for our roster of substitute teachers, so please feel free to submit your application. Please apply online at or send your CV and a cover letter to recruiting at german school phoenix dot org – we look forward to hearing from you!
“The Best Little German School in the West”


Dierk Seeburg – Executive Director

Dierk Seeburg
Dierk Seeburg, Executive Director

Dierk (pronounced like deer, but with a ‘k’ at the end) taught the Advanced class at German School Phoenix for two years starting at the beginning of 2012, and then in 2014 was appointed Director of the school.  He continued to teach for another year and in the fall of 2015 passed on his teaching duties to other teachers to focus on directing the school.  Dierk is currently a resident of Scottsdale, but grew up in Marburg, Germany, and came to the U.S. via the German American Exchange Student Club scholarship program.  He attended Bowling Green State University (BGSU) where he received an M.S. degree, and also holds a college teaching certificate from Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC).

Dierk was awarded the Arizona State University Graduate Student Council Excellence in Teaching Award while serving as a teaching assistant and associate at ASU.  He held a similar position at BGSU, has had experience as a personal tutor, and was a group tutor at The Princeton Review.  Dierk was also an associate faculty member at MCC.

When he’s not busy leading the school and working at his daytime job his favorite thing is to spend time with his wife and three children.

Katharina Blohm – Assistant Director

Katharina Blohm, Assistant Director

Katharina Blohm joined the German School Phoenix staff in July 2018 as Assistant Director.  Because Katharina knows the benefits of early language education, she eagerly supports the mission of the school and is also raising her children in a bilingual environment.  As a native German with a Banking Diploma and work experience as an Assistant Department Manager, she brings both language and administrative skills to her new position.

Katharina moved from Germany to Arizona in April 2017 with her husband and their three young sons. When she’s not busy with her family, she likes to read and go hiking. She also has a passion for running and traveling, and would love to discover, and run in, all parts of the United States.


Cindy Krause Kennedy – Teacher

Cindy Krause Kennedy, Teacher

Cindy Krause Kennedy joined the German School Phoenix staff in January 2016 and is teaching the advanced and beginner 2 classes.  She has a B.A. and B.S. in Music and German from St. Cloud State University and an M.A. in German from the University of Florida.

Cindy serves as our school’s curriculum manager and has taught a variety of German classes at K-12 in North Carolina and New York. She is a long-time member of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and a past representative of its executive board.

When she’s not busy teaching, Cindy enjoys music and community theater.

 Doris Neyestani – Teacher

Doris Ney
Doris Neyestani, Teacher

Doris Neyestani has taught a beginner level class since joining the German School Phoenix faculty in the fall of 2014.  She has an M.A. in German from Arizona State University and an M.A. in Professional Clinical Counseling from Ottawa University.

Doris has taught a variety of German classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level at ASU, and has given private lessons and been a personal tutor at Language Trainers. At ASU she was nominated for the Outstanding Faculty Associate Award, received the German-American Nation Congress Award, and was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation by Disability Resources for Students.

When she’s not busy teaching, Doris likes to relax at her home in Phoenix and spend time with her husband and her dog.

 Arun Ryan – Teacher

Arun Ryan
Arun Ryan, Teacher

Arun Ryan developed an interest in the German language early on, and began to study German in his native India before coming to the U.S.  He completed his education here by earning an M.S. from Drexel University.  He is also certified in Instructional Systems Design, and his teaching experience includes being a Six Sigma Black Belt trainer and doing private tutoring.

Arun joined German School Phoenix in 2013 and has taught both beginner and intermediate classes. Though he lives in Phoenix, he has been running the Tempe Stammtisch for the last 30 years.  His favorite way to relax is to watch TV.

 Elke Duncan – Teacher

Elke Duncan
Elke Duncan, Teacher

Elke Duncan was born and raised in Bavaria, Germany. She has a B.A in Education from the University of Regensburg, Germany. Her majors are in German Literature and Geography. She has taught German at the International School of Arizona over the past three years and is now the Curriculum Coordinator at BASIS Phoenix Central.

Elke has three girls, is married and enjoys spending time with her family. She is very excited to be part of the German School Phoenix.

Melanie Mello – Teacher

Melanie Mello, Teacher

Melanie Mello is originally from Pforzheim, a small town in Southwest Germany near the Black Forest. She has been living in the US for 13 years, moving to Arizona with her husband and their four children in 2016.

Melanie holds a B.A. in English and German (summa cum laude) from CSU, Chico, teaching certificates in Secondary Education for German and English, and a M.A. in Secondary Education (with distinction) from Bethel College, IN. She has been teaching German at the middle school, high school, and university level for the last 10 years in the US and abroad. Melanie currently teaches German 1-AP/IB at Chandler High School and online German 101 and 102 for the German Department at ASU.

In 2013, Melanie was awarded the German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award and the Rising Star Teacher Award from the Indiana Chapter of AATG. Melanie promotes the study of German and other languages and cultures in her roles as GAPP coordinator, secretary of the AZ-Chapter of AATG and ACTFL’s SIG-African American Students, as chair of AATG’S FLACH Committee, President-Elect of AzLA, and mentor in the Geothe Institut’s Teacher Coaching Program.

When she’s not busy teaching, Melanie enjoys reading, swimming, hiking, and spending time with her family.

Hannes Bernhardt – Teacher

Hannes Bernhardt, Teacher

Hannes moved from his native Germany to Arizona in early 2018, together with his American wife.  Hannes did his PhD in Geosciences in Münster, Northrhine-Westphalia, from 2014 to 2017, and is now working in Mars research at Arizona State University. Before that he did his B.S. in Munich and his M.S. in Münster.

A long-time enthusiast about languages, geography, ethnology, and history, Hannes was born in Thuringia, very close to the geographic center of Germany, but spent his childhood among the mountains of southern Bavaria.  As his family lives dispersed all over Germany and Austria, Hannes also developed a fascination for dialects and accents.

Kerstin Hipper – Teacher

Kerstin Hipper, Teacher

Kerstin Hipper was born and raised in Mainz, Germany, and has a degree in Speech and Language-Pathology. While she has worked with patients ranging in age from one to 88, her emphasis was mostly on treating children will all types of speech and language issues. Because of this experience, she has extensive knowledge about children’s language development and age appropriate conversational approaches, and this enhances her ability to teach German to children and adolescents and to help them build their language skills.

In addition to her teaching duties at German School Phoenix, Kerstin owns a small tutoring business in Gilbert, serving clients ranging in age from elementary school to college level.

She moved from Germany to Arizona in 2011, and now thinks it’s quite the best place to live. In her free time she enjoys cooking, knitting and sharing time with her daughters.


Julie Linke – Marketing Manager

Julie Linke - Marketing Coordinator
Julie Linke – Marketing Coordinator

Julie has always had an interest and family ties to the German culture. She studied abroad in Zittau, Germany during college and graduated Northern Arizona University with her BA in German and a minor in Speech Communications. She is able to utilize her love of the German language and culture by taking Americans abroad on tours of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Julie has joined German School Phoenix as the Marketing Coordinator in fall of 2015 and was promoted to Marketing Manager in spring of 2016 overseeing the intern and volunteer programs. When she is not working, she enjoys going camping with her husband, 2 kids and their dog.


Helen & Merle Pipho, Founders of the German School Phoenix

German School Phoenix was established in 1997 by Helen and Merle Pipho.

In 1970, Helen and Merle became members of King of Glory Lutheran Church in Tempe after moving to Arizona from northeast Iowa. Merle grew up speaking German at home, so when church members expressed a desire to have their children learn German, the Piphos took the initiative and made that happen. Since then over 500 students, both children and adults, have attended German classes presented by what is now named German School Phoenix.

Merle and Helen still play a key role in the administration of the school. This 90+ year old duo shows no signs of slowing down. They’re still the first one on site every Saturday morning to set up the classrooms and make sure everything is ready for classes to begin.

Directors Emeriti

Heike Davis – Director Emeritus

Heike Davis
Heike Davis, Director Emeritus

Heike Davis was the immediate past director of the German School Phoenix from 2007-2014. On weekdays, Heike still teaches private German lessons to pre-school and school-age children – if interested, please contact her at

Jerry Wood – Director Emeritus

Jerry Wood
Jerry Wood, Director Emeritus

Jerry Wood was the first director of the German School Phoenix from 1999-2007. Jerry still teaches German classes at Glendale Community College and serves as substitute teacher and guest speaker.


2 Replies to “Staff / Career”

  1. I am of German/Polish descent and I met Stefanie Cerron-Palomino and she was a very nice woman. We shared our respective histories of our ancestry and families’ immigration history and we had a lovely chat. She encouraged me to join the school, something which I am considering very much.


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