When Daniel Mertsch joined Concord Academy this past September, he took on the position as CA's sole German teacher. “It's more work, but you also get to know the kids better [and] where they are by the end of the year,” he said. 

For Mertsch, such familiarization is important to both the growth of his students, as well as his personal growth. He believes that teaching is not just a matter of instruction to others: rather, it is also a matter of personal learning. “I have to admit, even though I’ve studied it and it’s my native language, I've learned a lot about [German] just by teaching it,” he said. In particular, Mertsch enjoys comparing the various contrasts and similarities between languages, and often synthesizes one language by looking at it through the lenses of others. 

Mertsch spent the first 31 years of his life in Germany, where he trained as a special educator and studied German in his college years. In 2007, he and his wife moved to the States in order to be closer to family. Mertsch became acquainted with independent schools, working at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall as a special needs educator. And he only continued to grow familiar with private education. “For the last five years, I was at Saint Mark’s and Southborough teaching German…I lived on campus [and] worked in the dorms,” he said. 

Something about CA has always captivated Mertsch during his time in these other communities. “When other teams came, [CA athletics] was competitive but also friendly,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Wow! These kids must be doing something right.’” Mertsch had originally applied for a position in 2010, but officially joined the CA community this year.

Mertsch's teaching philosophy centers around the belief that the process of learning a new language builds on the basis of old knowledge. “For me that's true: [if] I know a language already and I learn another one—and I can see how they are different and how they are the same—that makes it easier for me to learn. And I hope that's also true for my students,” he said. Mertsch believes one of the keys to mastering new languages is comparing and contrasting new and old basic language structures.  

Outside of teaching, Mertsch has found himself engaged in a fair bit of housework. He cited guitar and music in general as his main hobbies, even partaking as a member of the faculty band at his previous school. During the pandemic, Mertsch was able to leverage the free time he was afforded into learning music theory and new techniques on the guitar, a skill he credits to his time in university. “I always joke that the one thing I learned in university was how to teach myself something,” he said. 

When asked about what he has enjoyed most about the CA community so far, Mertsch cited the informal, supportive dynamic between students and faculty. “It seems just easier for students to approach adults and have conversations…it’s more like a ‘we’re in this together’ [mentality] than a ‘I’m part of this group, you're part of that group’ feeling," he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strongly anywhere else.” Mertsch highlighted both the comfort that students have when speaking to faculty members and the genuine interest teachers have in engaging with and helping students. 

With his unique experiences and approach to teaching, along with his passion in the arts, Mertsch is sure to be a valuable member of the community. Here's to a fulfilling and enjoyable  first school year (and beyond) for Mertsch!