Decades of encouragement and instruction in the Spanish and German languages were the focal point of a Sunday gathering at Aiken High School, with a drop-in reception to honor three of the school’s longest-serving teachers, all with loaded international backgrounds.
The husband-and-wife team of Art Lader (“Herr Lader,” as he is known to many) and Lisa Lader (“Frau Lader”), with a background in German, shared the spotlight with Forough Shahidpour (“Senora Shah”), whose speciality was Spanish.
Dozens of visitors came by the high school’s cafeteria Sunday to express thanks to (and for) the three teachers, with decorations and refreshments with the words “vielen Dank” and “gracias” playing a major role.
Retirement is now a way of life for two-thirds of the trio, but Art Lader, a native New Yorker whose local fame is largely in leading student trips to Germany, is planning to put his skills into action a few miles to the north, offering German classes at Strom Thurmond High School. This will reportedly be the first time for German to be offered at the Edgefield County school. His wife, an Aiken High graduate, wound up spending her teaching years on highly familiar acreage.
Helping organize Sunday’s event was social studies teacher Sally Tice, a 1992 graduate (and now an employee) of Aiken High. “I had Herr Lader for two years and Frau Lader for one year … Graduated, took German at Clemson, and got to exempt out of a couple of classes, because of how well they taught me, and then I actually got a job offer to teach German and history … I did not take it, thankfully, but immediately after the offer, called Herr Lader and said, ‘If I have to teach German, you have to help me,’” she recalled.
“Nine years later, after graduating, I came back to Aiken High School, and they were both my colleagues, and truly, they are two of the main reasons why I became a teacher – their interactions with students, the impact that they made on students’ lives, how you could truly see that they cared about the individual, not just about the subject, not about the curriculum. They taught us more about life than they did about German, or just as much, I would say.”
A 2014 alumni report from the University of South Carolina focused on the Laders. It noted, “The Laders met while studying at Carolina in the late 1970s. She, a German major, got a student Fulbright Scholarship to Germany and he, an English major, followed her there after taking an intensive eight-week course in German. Within a few years, they both were German teachers at Aiken High, Lisa’s alma mater. And they’ve been there ever since, teaching as many as 250 students every year, escorting them on field trips to Germany and sending many of them … to the university.”
Shahidpour, a native of Iran who grew up largely in Spain, “was a great teacher – a wonderful lady,” in the words of Hunter Wilson, an administrative assistant at the high school. “We see each other every day, and she always peps me up. She’s a great lady.”
Jennifer Wead, who teaches Spanish at Aiken High, made similar comments. “I graduated in 2006, but I had her all four years I was here at Aiken High, and every single year was just a joy being in her class, and I learned so much from her … I will do her proud and maybe carry on her legacy, I hope.”
The longest-distance traveler of the day may have been Jennifer Dove, an Aiken High graduate from 1994, when she went by the last name of Wyman. She now lives in central Kentucky, as a special education teacher in the town of Winchester.
“I took German for four years under Art Lader,” she recalled, noting that the “wonderful” Aiken High influence led her to pursue a minor in German at college.
“I probably would not have driven seven hours for any other teacher, other than Herr Lader and Frau Lader, because if you had one, then you got the bonus of having the other a little bit as well. They were great together. Phenomenal,” Dove said.
Tice commented, “I still have a hard time calling them ‘Art’ and ‘Lisa.’ I still call them ‘Herr and Frau Lader,’ but they went on to teach my daughter German. She took three years of German, and she went to Germany with Herr Lader. That is something I didn’t get the chance to do in high school, so I made sure that when she came here, and she took German, that was one thing that she was going to do.”
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.