Meet Towson High’s newest English and Film teacher, you’ll love her.
Mrs. Malafarina (Mrs. Mal) is a lighthearted, fun, and very kind person to be around. Her classroom is full of books and posters with uplifting messages on them. When asked what inspired her room she said “I want my classroom not to feel like an institutional building. Because I think school can be a really harsh place with like fluorescent lights, cinderblock walls, when you’re sitting in rows in desks. So, I just wanted it to feel comfortable and a place where people could take a breath and relax a little bit.”
She’s been an English teacher for 12 years, her first year at Towson High, but has been teaching since she graduated college. Her favorite class to teach is film. “I didn’t expect how much I’ve loved teaching it” she said. Mrs. Mal is 33 years old and lives in Towson, MD along with most of us. Her favorite book is The Great Gatsby, and her go to karaoke song is “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
A typical workday for her is “running around like crazy” she says. “From 7am to 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It’s a lot of juggling being a teacher. Juggling working with students and making copies and grading and doing a million things, so I feel like my days are really fast paced.” Mrs. Mal teaches GT 10 English, Honors 12 English, and Intro to Film.
Being a college graduate, when asked what the hardest part of college was, she said “probably student teaching. I spent about half of my senior year of college student teaching full time. You’re sort of in two different worlds, your almost like an adult…but then you’re 22.” Her biggest pet peeve of students is, of course, phones. Most teachers would agree on that. But it’s not on the top of her list of things to worry about.
When asked a what her best teacher horror story was, she said something that most people don’t think about. “One of the most horrific parts of being a teacher is finding out that one of your former students passed away. A couple days ago I found out that a student that I taught five or six years ago had overdosed and died. I think that is the hardest part of being a teacher is knowing that certain students are going through really really difficult stuff and then that’s the second time that I’ve had a student who has been addicted to drugs and has overdosed and died.”
With being an English teacher having discussions is a big part of her class, as it should be. But when asked how she handles today’s political climate, she said “I try to stay really informed because I think that is my responsibility as a citizen is to always be aware.” “Probably staying more informed than I should be because it does stress me out a lot. But I also feel like as someone who is relatively privileged it’s my responsibility to stay on top of things that are happening. And try to be aware and informed.” An important question I wanted to ask her was “How do you handle privilege?” She said, “I think part of being a teacher is acknowledging your privilege. And also reminding myself that I can’t step inside somebody else’s experience.”
When asked about the use of derogatory terms she stated “I think there’s two types of speech that I get really upset about that I always try to directly address if I hear it and that’s anything homophobic, ill jump all over that. I’m also hypersensitive to male students speaking in any sort of derogatory way toward female students. If it happens in class, I use that opportunity to have a conversation about it in class.” It is rare that teachers use opportunities like that to be informative, rather than ignoring it and/or not addressing it.
Mrs. Mal is the type of teacher that will help you with anything you need, and someone that will work with you through your classes and outside of the classroom. So, stop by and say hi sometime!