Quebec teacher fired for joining ‘Survivor’ reality series

Elementary school teacher dismissed for taking unauthorized time off to participate in show

Quebec teacher fired for joining ‘Survivor’ reality series

An elementary school teacher in Quebec has lost her job after participating in the local version of the reality TV series Survivor.

Déborah De Braekeleer, 39, was terminated from her position at a school in St-Hyacinthe for taking unauthorized time off to film the show in a remote island in the Philippines, said Global News.

Like its American counterpart, Survivor Québec features 20 contestants vying for survival on a tropical island. De Braekeleer is part of the show’s second season, which began airing on March 31.

According to the local teachers’ union, De Braekeleer did request unpaid leave and even made arrangements for substitute teachers during her two-month absence. However, the St-Hyacinthe school service centre did not approve the plan, citing a local teacher shortage, said the report.

The Centre de services scolaire de Saint-Hyacinthe ultimately elected to dismiss De Braekeleer on March 26 for insubordination.

Patrick Theroux, president of the teachers’ union, called the decision a “shame” and said it sends the wrong message to teachers in the district, according to CTV News.  

“It sends the message that if you work as a teacher, forget about it, for whatever experience you may live during the school year,” said Theroux.

Some community members also found the decision to be too harsh given the show’s prominence.

Joël Bélanger serves on the board of the school service centre and voted against the dismissal of De Braekeleer. Speaking with the Canadian Press, he said the teacher is “extremely appreciated” by the community.

“She makes a difference, people really identify with her and have made her one of their own, so it’s really our whole community that’s in mourning,” said Bélanger.

De Braekeleer is not the only educator participating in Survivor Québec. Gwladys Breault, 46, teaches at a private high school in Montreal. But unlike De Braekeleer, Breault has been able to keep her spot at the school and is celebrated for her participation in the show.

“If I can say it, they use her as a model,” Theroux told CTV News, as he made note of how Breault is being promoted by her school as a role model to students, while De Braekeleer was “made to be an example.”

According to CTV News, the St-Hyacinthe school service centre has now allowed De Braekeleer to continue her teaching career within the district as a substitute teacher.

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