Josefine ("Jo") Schlaak
Au Pair in America is proud to announce our 2014 Au Pair of the Year winners. Here are their special stories.
Au Pair of the Year
Josefine Schlaak – Germany
“Jo is the most caring, giving au pair we can imagine. She deeply cares about our two boys including our older son Max who has special needs. She has already volunteered several times in both of our sons’ classrooms (Nathan, Kindergarten and Max, 2nd grade) without our prompting and has created a fantastic link between home and school. One of the volunteering experiences at Max’s classroom was a daily project for a full week that culminated in a play. Jo was leading Max’s group and they performed their play beautifully at the end of this week. This may sound like a simple accomplishment but we’d like to highlight that our son has difficulties with unstructured situations and with performance anxiety and in his prior school year, he was unable to meaningfully participate in such activities. Jo’s presence enabled him to join his peers in this activity, which significantly impacted his socialization and helped him realize his full potential. Through many school interactions like these, she won the affection of the school staff and our children’s teachers and has become an integral part in both Max’s and Nathan’s classroom. This experience has also shaped her future outlook and she is now interested to follow up her au pair year with studies in education. ”
Mageshry Pillay – South Africa
“In addition to last year’s volunteer tutoring work, Mageshry currently volunteers with the OneUmbrella Foundation in DC, distributing food to those in need. This not only speaks volumes about Mageshry’s altruistic and giving nature, but also provides an excellent example for Erik and Morgan. It has enabled her to really get to know Washington, DC and form bonds with her fellow volunteers as well as the people in the communities they serve. She was quick to adapt to DC’s metro system, as well as driving on the other side of the road!”
Sonsoles Ribes – Spain
“...we recognized that Sonsoles’ calm demeanor had seen our baby safely through a major crisis when she had her first (and hopefully only!) trip to the hospital emergency room. During that incident, Sonsoles was cool and collected with our infant who was having an allergic reaction to eggs. Rather than succumbing to her nerves, Sonsoles contacted me immediately with her concerns and texted me detailed photos of the worrisome rash. When I arrived home minutes later, I frantically called the doctor and assumed care of the baby. Yet Sonsoles knew the importance of establishing calm while I was preoccupied so she effectively entertained the other children while packing a hospital bag with supplies she thought the baby and I might need. Thankfully, our daughter was all right but I will always be grateful to Sonsoles for recognizing the subtle signs of distress in our child and for proactively helping to control the entire situation.”
Stella Henning – South Africa
“In other social groups, Stella has volunteered at any opportunity. She has never missed a cluster meeting and she has volunteered at the host family event by baking cupcakes and face painting. She has done the Walk for hunger 20 miles to raise contributions. She has been heavily involved with Global Awareness, coming into our elementary school and teaching the classrooms about South Africa. I have never seen anyone with Stella’s maturity, commitment, passion, and hard work. She has helped with any new au pairs coming to town. She is the link to many friendships within the organization…”
The information below explains the process that was used to select the winners of the 2014 Au Pair of the Year contest. We believe the contest was a wonderful way for host families to show their appreciation for their au pair’s achievements and the ways in which she has touched their family. We'd like to thank all our host families for their submissions.
- Each host family that entered the contest submitted an essay of 500 to 850 words that described the characteristics that make their au pair exceptional; noted the positive impact she has had on their family; and explained how she has integrated into their local community and learned about America.
- To be eligible, the au pair being nominated must have been an au pair in 2014.
- APIA asked the Community Counselors to submit a reference on behalf of all entries under consideration. The reference included details of the au pair’s participation in the educational component, cluster meetings and activities, and the special ways the au pair embraced her experience in America.
The Au Pair of the Year received:
- 2 round trip tickets to reconnect with her host family in the U.S!
- Entry into the International Au Pair Association’s Au Pair of the Year contest!
- Recognition on the Au Pair in America website!
Three runners up received:
- 1 round trip ticket to reconnect with their host family in the U.S!
- Recognition on the Au Pair in America website!
All nominees received:
- A certificate from Au Pair in America and a copy of the host family’s nomination letter!
- Host family essays and Community Counselor references were judged by a committee appointed by Au Pair in America.
- All contest entries are property of Au Pair in America, including rights to edit and publish the material.
- Travel arrangements require 60 days notice and are subject to availability at the time of booking. Travel will be booked to the nearest major airport. Maximum value of $1500 per ticket.
- By submitting a nomination, the host family agreed to the Au Pair of the Year Contest Official Rules.
Click here for the official contest rules.
Each year the International Au Pair Association (www.iapa.org) awards one exceptional au pair with the title "Au Pair of the Year." The
Au Pair in America’s winning Au Pair of the Year will be entered into IAPA’s international contest. Submissions are judged by a selection panel appointed by IAPA, and three au pair finalists are selected. Each finalist must write a short essay detailing her/his au pair experience. Au pair essays are evaluated by the panel and a winner is chosen. The winning au pair will be notified by IAPA. All contest entries will become property of the International Au Pair Association
The winning au pair will be required to attend IAPA's Annual Conference in March (all expenses paid by IAPA) where she will be presented the “Au Pair of the Year” award.