SMUS Teacher Feature: Mr. Marcelle Kitengie

Mr. Marcelle Kitengie is a familiar face at the Junior School, having started coaching after-school and weekend sports here four years ago. Last year he was hired full time as a PE teacher. Mr. K (or Coach K) was born in the Congo but lived in three other countries before the age of 13: South Africa, the United States and Canada. He finished high school in Burnaby before starting his post-secondary education in Metro Vancouver. After wanting a change in lifestyle and education – he wasn’t enjoying kinesiology – he came to the University of Victoria and earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

This year Mr. K moved into a new role at SMUS teaching K-4 drama and life skills, while also being in charge of risk management at the Junior School.

Let’s get to know Mr. K better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
PE because I was a kid that couldn’t sit still. It gave me an outlet to run around.

What was your first job?
Flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

What do you do on a day off?
Relax, hang out with friends and play pick-up basketball.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
I want to do a cross-country trip around the United States stopping at universities to watch college sports. I want to experience a football game in Texas, a basketball game in North Carolina, a baseball game in Idaho.

What’s one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I want to be happy. And make my momma proud.

What did you do after high school?
I went briefly into broadcast journalism, then switched into sports sciences at Douglas College.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
I was initially on the business route and wasn’t enjoying it. I asked myself, ‘What one job will I do for free no matter what?” Coaching youth sports and working with kids was it. That’s when I realized I should probably just follow my passions.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
A professional athlete playing soccer or a sports journalist.

What was the first concert you went to?
Destiny’s Child and I’m proud to admit it. I’ve been to seven Beyoncé concerts.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
When I was young I moved a lot. I went to seven different schools in about seven years in five different cities. It was hard moving around and restarting my life. But I’ve been in Victoria for six years and I’m closing in on the longest I’ve ever been in one spot.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

What movie have you watched the most?
It’s a tie between Remember the Titans and Mean Girls.

What has been your most memorable teaching moment?
When I was in first-year college, the high school I went to needed a coach for the Grade 8 girls and I needed volunteer hours. The first year did not go well – I think we ended up 1-19. But a lot of them decided they enjoyed basketball, they liked the way I coach, so we continued in the off-season and kept on playing. The next year we finished 13th in the province. It was a testament to the kids loving playing with each other and loving the game. And a couple of the athletes ended up going to play in collegiate basketball.

Have you ever won anything?
In Grade 9 I won two tickets to the Molson Indy on TV by answering a sports question. They announced my name, but I was too young to get them, so my brother had to go for me.

Have you ever been on TV?
Movies. Skip to 32:27 in John Tucker Must Die. I did some extra work in high school.

Favourite field trip as a kid in school?
In Grade 9 I didn’t know what a fair was – we didn’t have roller coasters or anything where I was from. We were studying physics and we had a field trip to Playland. It was great until I got on a ride and I realized these were not my thing. It was still fun being at Playland though.

Do you collect anything?
Books. I haven’t gotten rid of a book that I’ve read – ranging from sixth grade all the way up. I have a whole collection of Goosebumps still.

What are you currently reading?
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

What’s the best part of your job?
The little ones. They say whatever is on their mind and they’re so entertaining. They make me laugh.

What’s your favourite meal?
Sushi or curry.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
Everything is close. I can get anywhere in 10 minutes or less.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
I didn’t know about Halloween until I came to the western world. When I was 14 my friends and I dressed up as the crew from Recess. I was Vince Lasalle.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I would probably be running a youth sports program.


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