The German School Association of St. Louis will be bidding "auf wiedersehen" to Des Peres, but "hallo" to Kirkwood.
"This move represents an important step forward for the German School, and I'm excited about the opportunities it will provide our students as well as our instructors, volunteers and participating families," Carmen Freeman, lead teacher for adult education at the school, said of the relocation.
The school, which hopes to expand to 17 classes, will be taking up residence at Concordia Lutheran Church on South Kirkwood Road next month after eight years at St. Paul's Lutheran School across Manchester from West County Center. Prior to that, the 55-year-old institution spent a decade on Butler Hill Road in South County.
"We have a very high return rate," said Gregory Strauss, president of the assocation. "That's the proof in the pudding when folks come year after year and they continue to progress. It's been very positive."
That's allowed the school, which caters to both adults and children, to attract and retain students from previous spots it has called home and explains why the non-profit, which boasts students from 12 counties, still has such a strong enrollment base from Des Peres, West County and Arnold.
It's a pattern Strauss hopes the school can duplicate again in its new surroundings.
"This gives us an opportunity to tap into a new marketplace in Kirkwood and Webster Groves. We don't have a whole lot of students from that area currently," he said, noting he'd like to see enrollment rise from its current level of 170 to over 200 students.
The German School's Saturday morning and Thursday evening programs run throughout the typical fall to spring school year with 90 hours of instruction across 30, three-hour sessions. Many of the school's instructors are native speakers.
Strauss said about half of the students are adults, including those who have previously studied the language and have decided to return and keep up their conversational abilities. Other classes are geared toward beginners with no prior experience in the language.
Strauss said the school's new location at Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood will provide additional classroom space to accommodate growth he anticipates will continue as high school language courses gravitate toward Spanish and non-European languages, leaving an opening for those looking for an education in German.
"Most of the kids that are taking German with us are doing that because it's not offered at their current high school or middle school," he said.
Strauss also noted the educational enterprise's success in structuring itself to meet challenges.
"One thing I think is unique about our school is that it is a teacher-led organization," he said. "Previously, we'd had a principal a couple of years ago, but this past school year we went to two lead teachers running the entire curriculum."
That saves costs for the school, which employs 15 teachers, but that's not the best part.
"It made for a much richer program for both the adult and the children's classes," he said.
Strauss said he's looking forward to the move to Kirkwood, both professionally and on a personal level, as his children attend nearby Christ Community Lutheran School.
"We looked at a number of locations that had more classrooms, but my kids have been going to CCLS for the last four years so it was very familiar," he said. "I really enjoy the Kirkwood area and know the Concordia and Christ Community folks very well, so it is a natural evolution for the German School to move in there."
As for the future of the German School, Strauss said his goals aren't capped at 200 students.
"Aspirationally, the sky's the limit," he said.
For more information on the German School, visit www.germanschoolstl.org or call 314-300- 9339.