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.


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.

 Christine Ward – Teacher

Christine Ward, Teacher

Christine began teaching at German School Phoenix in the Spring Semester, 2017, after retiring from teaching high school German full time.

Christine is a first generation heritage German speaker who was born and raised in the Midwest. She completed B.S. degrees in Business and German, with a minor in Economics, at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and then lived in Munich and Berlin for nearly five years. After moving to Arizona, Christine completed her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction for Secondary Education at Arizona State University.

She and her husband have been married for almost 30 years, and they have two sons, one graduated from the University of Arizona and the other is a senior in high school. In her spare time, Christine likes sewing and has had a lifelong love for music and singing. One of her most memorable moments is singing in the Berliner Dom for their Christmas Cantatas.

Shirley McDonald-Link – Teacher

Shirley McDonald-Link, Teacher

After fourteen relocations across the globe, Shirley is delighted to now call Phoenix her home and is enjoying the spectacular Arizona sunrises and sunsets.

She joined the staff of German School Phoenix for the 2017 fall semester, teaching two classes for GSP and also two classes for the City of Tempe’s recreation program. During the week she shares her passion for foreign languages with her junior high and high school students at the American Leadership Academy in Queen Creek where she teaches both German and French.

Shirley finds the energy to keep up this busy schedule by running and practicing yoga. But her favorite thing is savoring time with her husband and three children at home.

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.


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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