Upper School World Languages Department Chair Margot Riemer is leaving the school after 24 years of teaching Spanish to move to Berlin with her family.
“My husband and I have always wanted to live in Europe,” Riemer said. “It’s been a reoccurring dream in our lives over many years.When my parents were elderly and my kids were really little, it wouldn’t have been a good time for us to try this, but now I’m at a point in my life when I could do this.”
While she does not have a permanent job at one of the six international schools in Berlin for the fall, Riemer said that she plans to teach Spanish classes at one of the schools as a substitute.
“I don’t have a job lined up for the fall, so that’ll be a really strange feeling, but I can substitute in the international schools to begin to learn the IB system, and whether I work into a permanent job at one of the international schools or come back to the United States, I can bring that knowledge with me,” Riemer said.
French teacher Jerome Hermeline will replace Riemer as the new World Languages department chair next year.
Riemer and her husband decided to move to Germany as opposed to a different European country because of Germany’s strong economic standing, which means that the country has more job opportunities. She has also spent several summers in Berlin with her family and is familiar with the area.
In addition to teaching Spanish at an international school in Berlin, Riemer would like to learn German.
“Even if I don’t find a job in Berlin, I want to learn German well so I can show a prospective employer in the future that I didn’t waste a year and that I put it to good use,” Riemer said. “Also, studying German on my own this year has been good for me. It helps me understand what my students are going through in learning a new language.”
In her time at the school, Riemer has taught Spanish I, II, III, III Honors, IV and AP Spanish Language and Culture. She said that she will miss the students and the school community the most when she leaves Harvard-Westlake.
“The students make every day different, and they make me laugh every day,” Riemer said. “Working at Harvard-Westlake makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself and meaningful. That is a gift in life that not everyone has, to have meaningful work to do and be excited to come to work every day. Harvard-Westlake has been really good to me, and I’m going to miss it.”
Students said that they will miss Riemer next year.
“[Riemer] is one of my favorite Spanish teachers and teacher overall that I’ve had so far,” Borna Shoa ’18 said. “She brings a whole new level of enthusiasm to the classroom, and she understands the struggles of Harvard-Westlake kids and empathizes if there is a test or scheduling conflict. I’m genuinely really disappointed that she’s leaving and that others after me don’t get to have the experience with her that I did.”
Hermeline came to Harvard-Westlake as a new teacher in 2013 after a year of substitute teaching French at the Alliance Francaise in Newport Beach. Hermeline has taught French III and III Honors classes for the past three years.
“[Hermeline] has been working with me so I can teach him what I do,” Riemer said. “He has a really good head for charts and solving hard problems, so I think he will be very good in this position.”