Teacher’s long road to citizenship

The wonderful journey of Elder world languages teacher Mrs. Karin Kraeling


Tom Reiring

The Elder Glee Club celebrates the citizenship of Elder faculty member Mrs. Karin Kraeling

Elder High School is one of the best high schools in America.  And I am not just saying that.  Part of what makes the experience so cherished by countless students, is its excellent faculty and staff.  Included in that faculty, you will find a passionate German and Spanish teacher, Karin Kraeling.

Karin Kraeling is not only one of the best teachers at Elder, but also one of the most unique.  Mrs. Kraeling has one of the most interesting backstories I have ever heard.

Tom Reiring
Elder Glee Club with Judge Karen Litkovitz before ceremony

Karin Kraeling was born in the German section of a small city in Mexico.  She was born in a regular family with a mom and dad; however, it was not like most childhoods.  Her family was German, so growing up in Mexico with a first language of German was not the easiest.

Mrs. Kraeling attended a German school in Mexico and was heavily involved in her German heritage but always considered herself a Mexican.

“People would always tell me that I am not Mexican but I felt I was just as involved in that culture,” said Kraeling.

Karin loved sports throughout her childhood.  She was especially gifted at the high jump and hurdles.  At the age of fourteen, Kraeling was actually asked to train for the Olympics! Sadly, her mother did not let her.  To think that Mrs. Kraeling could have been a world class athlete instead of a teacher is remarkable.

However, Karin Kraeling would not stay in Mexico forever.  Eventually she had to come to the United States of America.

I just love this city so much, I want to be able to have my voice heard.

— Mrs. Karin Kraeling

Mrs. Kraeling came to the great city of Cincinnati, Ohio in the year of 2006.  She left briefly to go to Dubai for four months and then returned.  She has been a resident of Cincinnati ever since.  “I love this city so much,” said Karin.

Elliot Reiring
Mrs. Kraeling behind her desk in the classroom she loves at Elder.

However, this story is much more than the history of Mrs. Karin Kraeling.

Since 1989, she has been a teacher to countless students.  She taught at a German school in Mexico, and then she began teaching at Elder in 2014.

She has also taught a class for older folks on the side, helping sharpen their German skills as well.

As a student of Mrs. Kraeling, I can say that I learned more German than I thought was possible.  Her teaching methods need to be enforced around the country in my opinion.  The way she involves her class as much as possible, rather than just lecturing for 49 minutes, is brilliant.

Even with all of this, there was something missing on Karin Kraeling’s résumé.

Ever since she became a resident, she has wanted to become a citizen of the Unite States.

Mrs. Kraeling said, “I just love this city so much, I want to be able to have my voice heard.”  She wants to be able to vote, and you cannot if you are not a citizen.

“I have all of the rights (of a citizen),” said Kraeling.  “I just cannot vote, have a federal job, or run for office.”

So, Mrs. Kraeling studied hard to pass her citizenship test, and to no surprise, she aced it.

Tom Reiring
Mrs. Kraeling swearing her allegiance to the United States”

Elder senior and student of Mrs. Kraeling, Jack Rolfes, is very proud of her.

“She has worked so hard to pass that test, and to find out that she received a perfect score… it’s just awesome.”

On Friday, January 13, Karin Kraeling finally became a citizen of the United States of America.

It was one of the coolest ceremonies that I have ever been to.  I did not know how many other people were trying to become citizens as well.  There were 70 people from 37 different countries all trying to become citizens of the U.S. at the ceremony downtown.

To make things even more special, myself and few of my friends in the Elder Glee Club were there to sing the National Anthem to one of our favorite teachers.  “I knew I was going to cry,” Kraeling said.

To no surprise, as we were walking to our seats, Mrs. Kraeling was holding back tears of joy.

I, as well as the entire Elder High School community, was thrilled to see one of the best human beings we know receive what she has wanted for so long.

When Mrs. Kraeling was asked if she will be partying after the ceremony, she responded with an “absolutely”! However, when I asked if I could attend, her answer was not as positive.

The United States of America just gained one heck of a citizen.