• Jacob Reis-Teacher of the Month

    Feb. 26, 2024

    German teacher named WTAE’s Teacher of the Month

    Jacob ReisUpper St. Clair High School world language teacher Jacob Reis has been selected as WTAE’s Teacher of the Month for February. News anchor Janelle Hall surprised Mr. Reis with the announcement on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

    Watch the video from WTAE

    All of Mr. Reis’s students, his world language colleagues, school administrators, the cheerleading and dance teams, and his wife, Kiki, gathered in the school’s LGI for the surprise announcement. Nominated by the high school’s administration, Mr. Reis has been a member of the Upper St. Clair faculty since 2021.

    “Mr. Reis is not only a content expert (he fluently speaks multiple languages), but he has become a beloved teacher leader at our school after just a few years,” Dr. Dan Beck, assistant principal, said.

    The excitement and passion that Mr. Reis has for languages and for teaching is evident.

    “For me, the best part of being a teacher is watching a student find the things that they're passionate about and really dive into them,” Mr. Reis said. “I get to geek out about the things that I love, like linguistics, every day, with the hope that even if my students don't fall in love with grammar, that they'll discover something they do love and really explore it.”

    As a world language teacher, Mr. Reis sees language acquisition as an opportunity to build understanding.

    “Today's world, and our country in particular, is deeply divided, and folks who choose not to communicate with one another are finding their windows to the world shaped by the viewpoints and agendas of others before they have a chance to see it for themselves,” Mr. Reis said. “Learning a world language and using it to communicate is one of the most effective ways for a young person to get their own impressions of the world and make their own judgements based on their own values.”

    Recently, Mr. Reis has taken a strong professional interest in studying artificial intelligence and understanding its best uses in a world language classroom. He presented on the topic of AI in the classroom at a national American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference in Chicago earlier this school year.

    “His profound passion for understanding how to engage today’s students led him to represent Pittsburgh and share his knowledge on a national stage,” Dr. Beck said.

    Mr. Reis attributes much of his success at Upper St. Clair to the school’s holistic approach to education.

    “My students get to do sports, play music, and still challenge themselves with rigorous academic courses,” he said. “A well-rounded student is also a resilient student, and this opens their minds to the challenging but rewarding task of learning another language. The staff here is full of talented, passionate teachers that have created a culture of learning that serves our students and our community well.”

    While the entire high school took the opportunity to celebrate Mr. Reis, he was quick to sidestep and show his appreciation for his colleagues.

    “I am so thankful to Dr. Beck, who has been a true mentor to me since I started here in USC, and who is always available when I need a new perspective on an issue,” Mr. Reis said. “I am also thankful for my department, who have always encouraged and supported me, even when I want to geek out about some new, obscure educational technology.”

    Mr. Reis earned a dual bachelor’s degree in German and Spanish from Washington & Jefferson College and a master’s degree in Germanic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, where he also studied second language acquisition, historical linguistics, musicology and literature.

    WTAE is accepting online nominations for superstar teachers who are making a difference in the lives of students. Each Teacher of the Month receives $1,000 toward new classroom supplies via donorschoose.org. Every month during the school year, WTAE will choose one new deserving educator. In 500 words or less, share with WTAE why one of your teachers should be Teacher of the Month.