Why Tarik Manfaa Became a Teacher (Manfaa Exclusive Interview)
World Teacher’s Day is approaching fast, which is why we wanted to profile all-star teachers to find out what inspired them to teach.
We reached out to Tarik Manfaa, World Languages Department Chair, for an exclusive interview about why he became a teacher.
Manfaa was recently interviewed by Open The News, where he gave his top five tips for teachers.
With over 20 years of teaching experience, Manfaa is also proficient in Arabic and French.
“I didn’t think I’d become a teacher at the beginning,” says Manfaa.
“It just happened.”
Manfaa went to school for communications and briefly worked for a post-production house before losing his job.
He even contemplated military service.
“My cousin told me not to enlist in the military. He told me to work with him,” says Manfaa.
Manfaa agreed and went into the restaurant business with his cousin, owning a pizzeria within a year.
It was during that time in 1998 that he ran into an old friend who told him about the shortage of language teachers in Philadelphia.
“She told me it was such a problem that the district had to ask the Spanish embassy to have teachers come from Spain to teach the language.”
That was when Manfaa decided to take a test to become certified in teaching Spanish.
He passed the test with no difficulty and to his surprise, was immediately qualified to teach.
Manfaa was told to show up to West Philadelphia High School to teach the following morning.
“I knew deep down that I’d use my skills with languages,” says Manfaa.
It was then that Manfaa also fell in love with teaching.
“I was making a difference in children’s lives, especially in urban settings where students needed a male role model,” sais Manfaa.
Manfaa says teachers should always respect their students.
He takes it upon himself to learn about his students and what makes them tick.
“I treat my students as I would treat anybody I care about,” says Manfaa.
Manfaa is always punctual because he wants to set an example for his students.
“Students are like sponges and they watch what you do even if you don’t realize it,” says Manfaa.
One of his favorite parts about his job is watching students excel.
Manfaa says one thing that helps his students strive for success is positive reinforcement.
“Negative reinforcement doesn’t work in my opinion.”
Manfaa also tells his students to learn the skills that got him into his teaching role in the first place: language and communication.
He tells his students that even having basic survival skills in a foreign language can go a long way.
Manfaa says one positive thing about learning a foreign language is that it’s grounded in real life.
Students who learn a foreign language can use their skills in real life environments on a daily basis.
They’ll have an easier time applying for jobs, traveling and forming new relationships.
To read more about Tarik Manfaa, you can check out Tarik Manfaa’s Top Five Tips for Teachers here: