Social studies teacher on adjusting to teaching at Wilson

Eleanora Metelski

Betty Mfalingundi began teaching US and DC history at Wilson just last year, during online school.

“I think I’m still getting a grasp of Wilson culture,” she admitted. As students return to the building after over a year of virtual learning, her feeling of uncertainty is not uncommon. “Honestly, I was worried that students wouldn’t like me or [that I wouldn’t] remember how to be in front of a classroom and develop and work on my own unique voice as a teacher,” she added.  

Mfalingundi received an undergraduate degree from American University, where she studied history and secondary education. Becoming a teacher has been one of her aspirations since high school. “Teaching has been part of my plan for a long time,” she explained. 

As a high school and college student, she worked with a program designing classes for middle schoolers. Her love of teaching is the product of lots of small but meaningful experiences.

“When you’re teaching history there’s so much stuff that kind of catches people off guard and every single one of those moments I’m like, ‘that’s why I’m here, that’s what I want to do,’” Mfalingundi said.

Reminiscing about her childhood in Minneapolis, Mfalingundi draws parallels between her own high school alma mater and Wilson. Though they are located in very different areas, both are big-city schools that are highly diverse with a student body that cares deeply about activism.

“Something I have noticed is the commitment that Wilson students have to justice and problem-solving and addressing issues in their community,” Mfalingundi said. “It was something that I got such a huge sense of and I was so impressed and proud.” 

When asked to describe Wilson, Mfalingundi chose the words growth, challenge, and support. She sees some of her own story reflected in her students. “[When I was a student,] I was out in the streets, I was out protesting, doing walkouts. There are pictures of me, like sixteen, with a megaphone,” she said. 

“So, that’s one of the things that I love about working with high schoolers,” Mfalingundi continued. “They are so committed to justice and wanting and demanding better for their community and I definitely see that at Wilson.” •