Christopher Grombach, 23 from Germany
Au pair with the Ullmann family in CT
Host children: Rhett and Remington, 15
We have had au pairs since our daughter, Hailey (18), was 2, and while many of them have been great, never before have we been compelled to nominate one of our au pairs for the prestigious “Au Pair of the Year Award”. During our children’s early years, the primary function of our au pairs was that of caregiver. We are nominating our au pair, Chris, due to his many compelling qualities above and beyond being a compassionate caregiver. Chris joined us at a precarious time for our children. Hailey was getting ready to leave home and go off to BostonCollege. Our 15 year old twin boys Rhett and Remington, were preparing for high school.
Rhett and Remi couldn’t be more different. Remi, who has struggled with learning disabilities his entire life, was leaving a small, private school specializing in children with learning challenges. He was set to join GreenwichHigh School, one of the largest schools in the state with a student population of 2800. Needless to say, we were very apprehensive to have Remi go from his small, structured and safe environment at his former school into this massive and overwhelming educational institution. Chris to the rescue!
With the ambition of becoming a teacher and athletic coach, Chris possesses the exact right mix of compassion, patience, true teaching skills and motivational acumen. Not only did he single-handedly ensure that Remi’s transition into GHS was smooth, but he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for showing Remi how to excel in this new environment. Every morning for the first many weeks of school, Chris would drive Remi to school and walk in with him. Chris would walk Remi from classroom to classroom and introduce him to every teacher along the way, until Remi was finally comfortable and could find the way on his own. When it was time for student elections, Remi was confident enough to run for President of the entire freshman grade. Chris helped Remi plan a masterful campaign which included a rousing speech, posters and flyers. Every morning for the two weeks leading up to the elections, Chris would go in early with Remi and help him hand out flyers. You can imagine our pride as parents, when our son with learning disabilities and a speech impediment, gave his speech in front of the full grade. Ultimately the competition was too steep, and Remi was not elected President. However, it didn’t matter, he had already won! The self confidence Remi has gained through Chris’ masterful engagement is also paying off academically. At the end of his first semester of high school, Remi got all As and Bs. He was additionally awarded “Student of the Marking Period” for biology, an honor only bestowed upon a handful of students. Remi’s arrival at GHS could easily have become an educational and emotional disaster, undoing years of hard work at his former school. Instead GHS has become the embodiment of a personal victory, and through his selfless actions, we firmly believe that Chris has had a life altering impact on Remi’s quality of life.
Remi’s twin brother, Rhett, is a star athlete representing Team USA at regattas all over the world. Through his unique personal and intuitive teaching style, Chris has succeeded in establishing just as deep of a connection with Rhett, as he has with Remi. Chris has been helping Rhett to prepare his boat for regattas, and he has travelled to various sailing venues with Rhett and the boat. It is a big responsibility, however, through his safe driving and mature demeanor, Chris has made this a comfortable option for us, when work and other obligations otherwise would preclude Rhett from attending a race. At the regattas, Chris provides logistical and moral support, and ensures that Rhett stays current with his homework during their few hours of rest between races. Chris and Rhett have formed a special bond, which renders Chris highly effective in dealing with Rhett, who sometimes can be a bit “high strong”, particularly before big regattas.
Chris has lots of spirit and personal style. He has introduced German customs, food and snacks to our family. A gifted cook, he excels in the kitchen. He recently labeled Thanksgiving his favorite holiday, as he enjoys both the food traditions, and the mandatory football games in the afternoon. Chris’ self -aught understanding of football underscores his desire to immerse himself in our culture. We have 3 dogs in our lively household and Chris selflessly cares for the animals as if they were family.
Chris is a superior caregiver. When Mom recently needed to spend time in the hospital and Dad needed to stay with her, Chris “took over” and ran the household. When Mom’s stay was extended, and we were concerned about how to handle things at home, Chris advised us to take as long as we needed. He handled all issues with the ease and comfort that comes from being proactive and self motivated.
We feel blessed to have such an accomplished, warm and caring individual as part of our family, and it is with utmost confidence we nominate him as Au Pair of the Year.