Ms. Rafique: Tough Teacher, Animal Softie


Rafique riding a horse through the hills of Tuscany, Italy. (Photo Courtesy of Ms. Rashwar Rafique)

Sarah Lambert, Managing Editor

After their first class with newly arrived science teacher Ms. Kishwar Rafique, students were a little intimidated. Rafique has a strong personality and she tells it like it is. She warned her freshmen, for example, that if they didn’t stay on top of their work, failure should be expected. But many students have grown to appreciate her straightforward approach to teaching.

“If you do your work and study and pay attention in class you should be fine,” freshman Kaylee Bustos said.

Rafique joined the George Mason staff at the beginning of this year. She is a member of the science department, teaching honors biology and regular biology, as well as co-teaching Earth science.

She also makes sure she saves time for fun. She spends the majority of her free time caring for animals. She owns four cats and takes care of all the dogs in the neighborhood. She has turned her backyard into a diverse ecosystem, providing food dispensers for squirrels and birds and even skunks.

“My goal, eventually, is to live on a farm. That’s where I see myself in the next twenty years,” she said about her plans for the future.

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When Rafique has the time she also enjoys doing DIYs, such as making her own furniture and cabinets and renovating around her home – she is currently working on drywalling her basement.

She is also a bit of a makeup guru. She loves putting makeup on other people in her free time. She claims she has “way too much” makeup and even has an entire bedroom dedicated to it.

Rafique has lived in Virginia her whole life. She went to Thomas Edison High School in Fairfax, only a fifteen minute drive from Mason. After graduating high school, Rafique went to George Mason University, and completed Graduate School there this year.

This will be her second year teaching. She spent last year teaching at South County High School in Fairfax County. There, she taught five to six classes a day with an average of 35 students in each class. Although she liked it and loved teaching AP environmental science, she felt that there was pressure to get to know every student. Given the class sizes, it was nearly impossible to do so.

She says although she still has to make an effort to get to know students, having relationships with students is a lot easier at Mason than at other schools she’s been to.

“I still have to make an effort to get to know students at Mason, [but] it is easier to have a relationship with every student, including some that I don’t not specifically teach, but that I meets through Hy-C or clubs.” She says about getting to know Mason students.

Rafique admits that teaching Mason students is more challenging than teaching at other schools she has worked at, but that it’s in a positive way. Her favorite aspect of Mason so far is how vocal and opinionated the students are.

“So far I really like Mason,” Rafique said. “I really like the students because they are really expressive. They have a lot to say, I have a relationship with all my students and I love how the classroom is very two sided.”

When asked what her advice to George Mason students would be, she immediately emphasized time management. “My advice is to have a planner or use your phone and plan out your time, because as important as it is to work hard, it’s more important to play hard, because that’s life.”

Rafique’s balance of work and play are clearly shown through her passion for school and animals, and her philosophy for life. “It’s not life to read books and spend all day studying and doing homework; that’s not how you live. You make memories by having fun. So make time to have fun.”