Getting to Know Mr. Altaf

Jadyn Breitenbach

If I had to describe the most interesting teacher I’ve ever had, it would unquestionably be Mr. Altaf, the business instructor at Southwest. I have only taken one of his classes, but that was enough for me to recognize his fun spirit and bubbly personality. He builds great connections with the students at Southwest, which can easily be perceived by observing all the kids that go out of their way to say “hi.” Despite his popularity among the students, I felt like there weren’t many people that knew many details regarding his life. I decided to sit down with Mr. Altaf to get a little insight into his past.

 Arif Altaf lived with his family in Pakistan before moving to the United States to pursue his dreams. His childhood was often protected by his very education-focused parents that stressed the importance of academic excellence. In his youth, he dreamt of becoming a professional tennis player beloved by the world. However, he was not quite good enough to make a career out his dream, and sought an education instead. 

When Altaf reached the age of 22, he left Pakistan and travelled to the United States for a college education. He attended St. Cloud State University to receive his Bachelor’s degree in business, then later St. Thomas for his Master’s. He soon after became a hospital administrator, where he helped to control and organize all of the duties that are necessary to run a hospital. When he had retired from his job, he missed the joy he got out of teaching others how to be successful. It was his love for teaching that drove him back to work.

Southwest High School appeared as the perfect teaching spot in his search for a job. He was drawn to our school specifically “because the school had an IB program and was focused on international affairs.” The community of Southwest was another reason that attracted him. He describes it as very diverse and interested in social activities, such as the student run plays and football games. He has now been the business teacher for five years and considers teaching his way of giving back.

Mr. Altaf chose to teach about business and finance to students in hopes of making students successful. His exact definition of success is to lead by example by being an honest and trustworthy human being. His favorite movies include Gone With The Wind and The Sound of Music. His advice to students is to respect fellow students and teachers and to stay focused on the prize. To him, the meaning of life is: “To help others, be a caring person and to make a difference in somebody else’s life.” If we can learn anything from Mr. Altaf, it would be to emphasize the importance of community and to be kind and caring to as many people as we can.