The SPARK Team

SPARK Directors

Susanne Rinner

Dr. Susanne Rinner is a scholar, teacher, academic leader, and advocate for public education, in particular language education. Susanne’s goal is to strengthen and build German programs across K-16 institutions in order to encourage all students to study languages and their cultural contexts.

Thomas Flanagan

Thomas Flanagan serves as co-director for SPARK for German as well as a Language Programs Officer at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, D.C. Thomas comes from rural Montana, where he first became interested in the German language in high school. He earned his BA in 2014 from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, with a double-major in German and political science and a minor in global studies. In 2019 Thomas earned his MA from Georgetown University’s BMW Center for German and European Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. In addition to his personal interest in learning languages, Thomas strives to work with the team to strengthen access to and resources for teaching and learning languages.

Regional Coordinators

Denise Larson – Texas and Midwest

Denise Larsson is passionate about teaching and tutoring public and private school language students of all levels and ages supporting them to discover their potential and achieve their learning goals. As a certified examiner for an internationally recognized German language institute, Denise provides students with the language tools to pursue their higher education goals in German speaking countries. Denise is a true ambassador for German language and culture. Please contact Denise at LarssonDenise@hotmail.com.

Nella Spurlin – Texas and Southwest

Nella Spurlin taught in Texas public schools for 40 years before retiring. Since then, she has been involved in professional development training for world languageteachers, as well as elementary language and community arts programs for children. Her goal is to provide language and cultural learning opportunities for young students. Please contact Nella at nspurlin@hot.rr.com.

Peter C. Weise – Southeast

Dr. Peter C. Weise has been teaching classes in German language and literature at various colleges and universities for almost twenty-five years. His scholarly work focuses on issues of content-based language instruction, particularly its impact on curriculum design. He continually strives to enhance the effectiveness of language teaching and to equip students to become successful life-long learners. Please contact Peter at weisep@icloud.com.