Muriel Von Stein shares her experiences

French teacher details her life and path toward HHS

By Anze Hao

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French teacher Muriel Von Stein has taught Mustangs for 13 years, but her story began in France. Von Stein spent her childhood in Paris until moving to Germany with her husband and for her job as a pharmacist.

“I remember that we lived in a very small apartment,” Von Stein said. “Then we moved to southern France, Montpellier, where we had a big house, and I really had this feeling of freedom.”

Photos courtesy of Muriel Von Stein
Von Stein grew up in a French-speaking family, and learned English, German and Spanish throughout her life.

“I don’t remember a lot of my childhood in Paris, but I remember that we lived in a very small apartment,” Von Stein said. “Then we moved to southern France, Montpellier, where we had a big house, and I really had this feeling of freedom.”

After finishing her studies in Montpellier, Von Stein said she moved to Strasbourg, then Hamburg, to pursue her profession at a pharmaceutical company.

“When I finished studying to become a pharmacist, I met a German guy, my current husband, and married him after I moved to Hamburg,” Von Stein said. “He then got a job offer in Palo Alto, and since I [had] always wanted to try something new, we decided to move to the United States.”

Von Stein wanted to be an active member of the community when she moved to the U.S.. Although she had to take care of her one-year old as well as herself during her second pregnancy, Von Stein said she still jumped at every chance to meet new people.

“Since I was pregnant with my second child, I wasn’t working, I was super active, trying to meet people,” Von Stein said. “I really wanted to feel at home and meet the American people.”

Although she was a new immigrant, Von Stein said she did not really have a hard time adjusting to the American life.

“My English was not very good, but I kind of didn’t care, and I jumped in the water,” Von Stein said. “It’s up to you to make the effort [to adjust].”

Because she immigrated here 20 years ago, Von Stein said she is now completely accustomed to the life in America and views the U.S. as her home.

“I have all my friends here, I love my job, I studied something new by becoming a teacher, and that’s what makes me like it here,” Von Stein said.

After immigrating to the U.S., Von Stein said she chose teaching over the pharmaceutical industry because the job fields were just so different from those of Europe. She also did not want to take any more chemistry classes.

There is such a positive exchange in energy and ideas between the students and teacher … I think I learn as much, if not more, from my students than I teach them.

“I brainstormed the options for myself, and something relating to languages was the thing that I had in my mind, so I debated between translation and teaching,” Von Stein said. “And since I was a volunteer at my daughter’s elementary school, interacting with teachers, I saw myself having fun in a job like that, so I chose to become an educator.”

Von Stein said the aspect she likes most about teaching is being with the students and interacting with them.

“There is such a positive exchange in energy and ideas between the students and teacher,” Von Stein said. “A lot of people think that only the student learns in the classroom, but that isn’t all for me. I think I learn as much, if not more, from my students than I teach them.”

Von Stein enjoys reading, yoga and meditation in her free time.

“I started yoga and meditation around three years ago, and I believe that [they] are [things] I’m very passionate about, and I do my routine for them every morning,” Von Stein said.

In addition, Von Stein really enjoys traveling.

“Every summer, [my family and I] go back to Europe to see [relatives] in France and Germany, and we always try to add a new destination and discover something new,” Von Stein said. “There is always something new to see and learn for us.”

In one word, Von Stein would describes herself as caring. French teacher Madeleine Wills agrees with her.
“She is definitely caring,” Wills said. “But more than that, she’s also warm, thoughtful and calm.”

“When [Wills] is struggling, when people are struggling, when students are struggling, I always tell them ‘there are no problems, there are only solutions,’” Von Stein said.

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