June 11, 2007
Name: Mbaya Kabemba
Department: Foreign Language
Year Started: 1991
Classes Taught: French I, II, III
Education: B.A. from Howard University and M.A. from Bowie State
Previous Jobs: Waiter, Cab Driver
Hobbies: Traveling, soccer, basketball, football
Blair is a school filled with different cultures, backgrounds, beliefs and ideologies. There are students and faculty who have come to Blair from all over the world, and French teacher Mbaya Kabemba fits right in among the diverse population.
Kabemba spent his childhood years in Congo/Kinshasa, where he attended elementary school. His family moved to France at the beginning of his middle school years, so Kabemba attended French schools until they moved again, this time to Maryland. Kabemba finished high school at Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
Because he has moved so many times, Kabemba holds culture and diversity close. Before teaching at Blair, he taught at DuVal High School (in PG County) and Bowie High School, and he says that schools are definitely the most interesting places to work. Teaching high school, for Kabemba, is much more fulfilling than working as a waiter or cab driver, as he once did before getting his degrees from Howard University and Bowie State.
Because he has seen how other high schools work, Kabemba can safely say that Blair is different from other schools, and he loves the differences. He points out that Blair is so diverse, it is as though "Blair is the world in miniature."
The students with so many different interests and backgrounds can really teach their educators a thing or two, according to Kabemba. He always encourages students to share their experiences with him and let him in on what they have learned or come to realize so that he, too, can learn more.
After teaching for 15 years, Kabemba has learned "not to underestimate the learning potential of a child," he says. He has also realized that a good teacher must set high expectations because, if pushed, students will rise to the occasion. Kabemba believes that if students are not pushed to their potential, they will not accomplish as much or try as hard as they could.
Not only do Blazers share their knowledge with Kabemba, but they also share information that they think is truly needed in the real world: "I learn the latest social trends from the students," he says, laughing.
The students have a huge influence on Kabemba's life, and he was also influenced by many people close to him, including college friends and his parents, to become a teacher. He wanted to pass his knowledge on and help further the knowledge of high schoolers today, and everyone close to him encouraged him all the way.
While he is trained in teaching foreign language, Kabemba also hopes to teach his students key life lessons. Over the course of the year, he wants his students to "respect each other, to help the less fortunate and to work hard."