Gabrielle Boucher, a true teaching enthusiast
Behind every student-athlete’s success are dedicated teachers who take their education to heart.
Gabrielle Boucher falls exactly into this category, having taught English and Spanish at Cégep de Victoriaville since 2009.
“My involvement with the young student-athletes began when management opened up a project to support the success of our Vulkins (name of the local sports teams), including students who are part of the QMJHL,” she recalls.
Three teachers from her CEGEP were then selected to accompany the sports students in their success.
“Being a former student-athlete myself throughout my youth, and because I love building strong relationships with students, I applied for the job opening. I now work about one day a week, or 20% of my full teaching load, on this project!”
A simple conversation with the teacher quickly reveals the passion and love she has for her profession.
“I love the support I can offer them. It allows me to forge beautiful bonds with certain athletes. Sports are an area that I find extremely important in the lives of youngsters,” she explains. “It’s changed my life. It’s made me stronger and given me a lot of fulfilment. It’s a privilege for me to be able to collaborate with our athletes!”
Gabrielle Boucher and her team offer individual follow-ups to athletes: personalized meetings, with a teacher, at various times during the semester, during which the student’s needs are targeted and advice offered.
But her work with the Tigres goes far beyond that. She supervises study periods, which take place in the library four times a week, and follows up and communicates with individual counsellors, coaches and others. She also tutors and presents complementary workshops on a variety of topics – including time management and vocational choices, to name a few.
“Our main goal is to help (student-athletes) in their academic success and foster the development of their autonomy. Since fall 2023, we have also created small study groups, by school program, for athletes wishing to do their homework alongside other student-athletes,” the teacher points out.
“We are striving to further vary our offer of support measures to personalize teaching.”
Gabrielle’s group also has an app that was developed last year. It collects feedback from CEGEP professors on the success, involvement and behavior of student-athletes taking part in their courses.
According to Gabrielle Boucher, teaching goes far beyond the curriculum.
“We obviously can’t create bonds with everyone, for various reasons. But knowing that there are athletes I can help gives me a great sense of accomplishment,” she admits.
“Helping students means guiding them towards greater autonomy at school. It’s also about trying to help these teenagers surpass themselves and become, quite simply put, great people! Sport is an area I find extremely important in the lives of youngsters, and one I’m particularly fond of,” continues the teacher.
From her own experiences, most young athletes are quite serious about their studies.
“It’s very case-by-case. Some hockey players carry the stereotypical negative label we’ve often heard about. But it would be a big mistake to lump them all together,” she says.
“My job is, above all, not to judge them. I think that’s what’s important. My job is to understand the human being behind the athlete and to see how I can help that person to excel,” she proudly adds. “A player with a less academic profile can develop a taste for school if we give him the desire to be curious and if we individualize our approach more.”
Like her colleagues, Gabrielle Boucher has to deal with the sometimes-complicated schedules of her student-athletes.
“The Tigres players’ schedules are very complex to manage, especially for them. They regularly miss classes and live with a very demanding schedule. For many, this leads to organizational difficulties,” states Boucher.
“Absences, combined with an organizational challenge and sometimes a lack of motivation, can feel like a mountain to overcome, especially for players who struggle academically. There are as many cases as there are individuals!”
Fortunately, there will always be teachers as dedicated as Gabrielle to give a helping hand to the students who really need it.
Teacher Appreciation Week is an opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable commitment of teachers who work for the educational success of students while contributing to the development of our society.
The 30th edition of Teacher Appreciation Week runs from February 4 to 10, 2024.