This post is part of the Lynden Schools Staff Spotlight series
Chifundo Vis maintains a focus on her students, even when she doesn’t have students yet. The fifth-grade teacher at Isom Elementary School spends her summers researching new teaching methods and planning for the new school year so she’s ready to establish a comfortable, personalized learning experience for every student, no matter their background.
Vis says teaching offers plenty of rewards, both personally and professionally. “Watching my students succeed is probably at the top of what I appreciate about my position,” she says. “It is priceless to watch the expression on my students’ faces as they compare their performance on the prerequisite test that I give them in the first week of school to the end of the year test. It is an honor to be able to support my students as they try to understand grade level content and watch them develop their skills. It feels rewarding to see students finally succeeding at something they previously struggled with and have their sense of accomplishment.”
Being a teacher also allows Vis to develop and practice her own creativity, planning unique ways to make curriculum accessible to each student or decorating the classroom in ways meant to engage students. Working as a teacher allows Vis to gain deeper knowledge about how she teaches and work to learn what her own diverse group of students brings to the classroom. “I work with other teachers to create a successful and enjoyable experience for all students,” she says.
Since Vis spends so much time in her classroom, she always stives to bring the community into her classroom. Each year, her class publishes a book, and she invites families to celebrate with a publishing party. At the end of the year, she hosts a Teach the Teacher Day, when students invite family members to help them teach Vis something they are an expert on. In the past, families have taught her how to take care of farm animals, make bracelets, dribble a soccer ball, wrap a saree and make the best taco-seasoning mix.
Getting to Know Chifundo
While teaching, Vis can also enjoy a work-life balance. “I love that I can clearly set my work schedule and plan my personal life accordingly,” she says about teaching. “I can proudly say I am successful in my career as well as my personal life because of this balance. I love coming home from work and having dinner with my family, going to the gym with my husband, helping my children with homework and being able to participate in my children’s after-school activities.”
Family fills Chifundo’s life. Along with the time together—whether with homework, attending sporting events or walks with her husband—Vis spends time gardening and gathering with friends. Her husband and her also cofounded Hands of Hope Malawi, a nonprofit organization that provides training, opportunities and resources for the youth of Malawi to help empower them and raise them out of poverty. Vis says the organization provides food, clothing, hygiene packs and school supplies to families in need. The group also provides mentorship to secondary school students, college students and graduates.
Her focus on helping others happens in her own community too. “As a successful person of color, I am passionate about helping other people of color in my community,” she says. “I encourage women of color to join me at the gym and help translate instructions for them. I also enjoy sharing about my skin and hair care with many families of adopted children of color in my community.”