Emily Z. Wagner.


Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, where she teaches French, serves as head of the Middle School Modern Language Department, and is assistant head of the middle school.


Wagner, of Abington, recently was named educator of the year by the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association. The award honors distinguished teaching in world languages. She was recognized during the association's annual conference held in October in King of Prussia.

"To be recognized by one's professional colleagues is, of course, a highlight of one's career," said Wagner, 66. "To be honored for doing something you love to do is simply icing on the gâteau!"

The Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association recognizes two language educators each year: one in kindergarten through 12th grade, and one in higher education. The other winner was Susanne Nimmrichter of Millersville University.

Wagner has a bachelor's degree in French from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and a master's degree in foreign language education from Temple University.

She has worked at Germantown Academy since 1980. Before that she taught at Gladwyne Montessori School, Elkins Park Middle School, and Cheltenham High School.

World traveler:

Wagner visits France often, and said she adores French culture and the French people. "I have many wonderful friends there, and try to cross the pond as often as possible to see them, as well as to continue to explore the rest of the French-speaking world," she said. "I love the rich history, the vibrant cities, and peaceful countryside, and, of course, the food."

Through the years:

Wagner said more than 91 percent of Germantown Academy students continue their world language study through their senior year. "Though their experience at GA permits many to place out of the language requirement when they enter college, most of our students do continue their study at the post-secondary level, often picking up a second or third language there," she said.

Career boost: Wagner said she is confident that proficiency in a second language can give a person a competitive edge in the business world.

"Being able to communicate, linguistically and culturally, in another language is a valuable tool in the increasingly global workplace," she said.

Color her world:

She said working with children helps her grow personally and professionally, every day. ""In order to be a good teacher," she said, "you need to love two things: your discipline and children. I am passionate about both."

What a colleague says:

"Emily's connection to Germantown Academy spans 25-plus years and hundreds of students and colleagues," said Richard House, Head of Middle School at Germantown Academy. "The award bestowed upon her is most fitting as her knowledge and passion for the Francophone world are the result of a lifetime's devotion to France and to the French language."

- Erica Lamberg