Signal Mountain Middle High School


GAPP Student Exchange

Nancy Baxley- Email
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GAPP is the German American Partnership Program, an exchange program for students in grades 9 - 10.

During the exchange, students first host a German student for about 4 weeks in the fall, and then live with that student and their family for about 4 weeks after school lets out in May. We travel to Germany as a group and do a variety of activities, ranging from attending school and learning about German history and culture to visiting cities such as Berlin, Münster, and Köln.

Who can participate?

Any student in grades 9 - 10. German is NOT required, but we will give preference to students that want to take DP German. Most of our participants seem to be in 10th grade.

Worried that you won't like your German student? Don't! Students are hand picked and paired by their hobbies and interests, so we have very few problems with that.

Cost & Deadlines

The total trip costs $2000. This covers roundtrip airfare to Germany, a trip to Berlin, all transportation in Germany, the stay with a host family, several day trips (canoeing, bike tour, water skiing, ...) and travel insurance.

Please be sure to sign up by the end of each school year in May to guarantee that you will be able to go. The earlier you let us know the better! A non refundable deposit of $200 is due in May (the year before the trip!) as well.

A limited amount of scholarships are available for students that need financial help. Please ask Mrs. Baxley for details.

SMMHS requirements 

In an effort to make this trip more student driven participating GAPP students will be placed in the GAPP coordinator's advisory class and will each help plan an activity for the German students while they are here at SMMHS. 10th grade students can choose to do this as their personal project that is required for 10th grade or GAPP participants can earn CAS hours, which look great on any resume! SMMHS students need to be in good standing with our staff and administration in order to participate. 

I am interested in a future GAPP trip:

How is this different from other international trips?

This is NOT a tourist trip, but an educational experience. With GAPP, you welcome a German student into your home as part of your family. They will eat with the family, go with you to school, and accompany your family on any trips you may take. The same is also true when you go to Germany: you will be welcomed into a German family and will participate in their activities during your stay. You will get to not only see Germany, but also experience the German way of life.

More details: Where is Hamm?

Hamm is a sister city of Chattanooga. It is a small city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northeastern part of the Ruhr area which is famous for its industrial coal mining heritage and modern art. Hamm's population is about 178000 people. The city is situated between 2 major highways and has easy access to tourist attractions such as Cologne or Münster. Hamm's railway station is an important hub for rail transport and renowned for its distinctive station building...just like the Chattanooga Choo Choo!

Our partner school is the Beisenkamp Gymnasium in Hamm, Germany ( The Beisenkamp Gymnasium is the oldest, most traditional high school in Hamm. It is a former girls' school that was developed into a modern high school, that educates fifth to twelfth grade students. Beisenkamp is preparing young adults for university while focusing on a European agenda. The school teaches about 800 students and runs several exchange student programs with France, as well as the GAPP exchange with Signal Mountain.


"Since its inception in 1972, the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) has developed into the most successful short-term exchange program between the United States and Germany. GAPP is a non-profit high school exchange program between schools in Germany and the United States, sponsored by the German Foreign Office and by the US Department of State. The main objective of the Program is the integration of students into the everyday life of host families and into the classroom activities of host schools to provide them with a coherent intercultural experience." (

A section of this exchange program was established in 2011 at SMMHS. Our partner school is the Beisenkamp Gymnasium in Hamm, Germany ( It is our goal to send one group of students to Hamm every summer for approximately a month; and in return host a group of Beisenkamp students every fall for a month at our school. This program is aimed at 9th to 11th grade students regardless of their second language classes (students with German as second language will have seniority).

For more information, email us with questions and concerns and we are happy to help you!

GAPP as part of the SMMHS IB curriculum

Our GAPP student exchange to Hamm, Germany is a vital part of SMMHS's IB curriculum. As it states in the IB mission statement "IB promotes intercultural understanding and respect, not as an alternative to a sense of cultural and national identity, but as an essential part of life in the 21st century." Our international student exchange with the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) provides this element for our students here at SMMHS. As a pedagogical leadership program, GAPP provides an important organizational structure to support our MYP implementation by allowing students to create and implement school related experiences for our visiting German students. It also benefits our DP program through TOK projects and CAS opportunities.

IB elements included in our GAPP student exchange:

  • international mindedness implementation: International mindedness trip journal
  • pedagogical leadership through promoting an understanding that learning is authentic and interdisciplinary, providing opportunities that empower students and teachers to explore learning in real-life situations with real-life purpose and allowing opportunities for student driven learning from goal setting to planning and execution.
  • personal project opportunities: student driven learning from goal setting to planning and execution
  • CAS hours when providing experiences for our German exchange students
  • TOK: Language in translation project in TOP classes
  • ATL skills: communication skills, social skills, self management skills, thinking skills & thinking skills

GAPP student coordinators: 9th and 10th grade GAPP students function as GAPP student coordinators and plan either a school or extracurricular activity for the German GAPP students. 10th graders can choose to do this as their personal project. Administration gives permission for these students to execute their planned day as a tour guide under supervision of a SMMHS teacher chaperone.

GAPP academic learning community: All 10th grade GAPP students will be placed in The GAPP coordinators directed studies and all 9th grade GAPP students in a 9th grade directed studies nearby. This allows for easy cooperation of all GAPP students to work on pedagogical leadership projects or plan activities for the German group. It will also increase student safety on an international field trip through being able to set clear expectation for behavior on the trip, implement clear learning goals for the trip and building a team with a strong focus on international mindedness. This is an important part of working towards establishing an IB academic learning community.

GAPP partner project. GAPP provides special grants for school wide projects with international focus. It takes several months of planning as a group to qualify for these grants. Our GAPP directed studies allows us to work on these additional grants sponsored by GAPP, increase international cooperation with our partner school in Germany and make the German school visit for our SMMHS academically more meaningful. Not to mention, it will allow us to get additional funding for economically disadvantaged students that need financial support in order to participate in this international exchange.

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