Signal Mountain Middle High School

GAPP Student Exchange

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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 3 weeks in the fall, and then live with that student and their family for about 3 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. 

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 round-trip 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 Ms. Geerlings for details.

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. A former girls' school it 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 a second language will have priority).

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

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


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