September 11, 2020

Christophe Normand: the new star teacher who helps autistic children

“It’s such a rewarding and fun experience”

There’s a new teacher recently on-board at Monseigneur-Euclide-Théberge High School in Marieville, and his imposing stature steals the spotlight in the classroom. Montreal Alouettes fullback Christophe Normand has returned to his alma mater and is teaching social studies, including to children with autism spectrum disorder.

As ironic as it may seem, the Alouette is now working with teachers who once taught him when he was a teenager. “I guess it makes other teachers feel old,” laughed Christophe, saying he is enjoying being with his new colleagues.

It’s possible that young people can be impressed that their teacher is a professional football player. It’s not a common scenario and what 13-to-15-year-old wouldn’t find it to be unique? “Some children didn’t believe me, others wanted my autograph, a photo or football cards, it’s a funny situation,” he chuckled.

Having studied social sciences at Université Laval in Quebec City and with a shortage of teachers due to the pandemic, the 28-year-old (and six-year CFLer) opted to lend a hand to his former school.

“It’s such a rewarding and fun experience, these young kids are wonderful. Some are not at the same stage as others, so you have to adapt your teaching. I learn every day, it’s a first for me.”

Christophe is receiving support from his fellow teachers to make sure he is doing things correctly. He said he owes a debt of gratitude to Marquis Rodrigue and Martine Felton who took him under their wings. “Luckily, they are here, I use their experience and I do not hesitate to ask them questions when a situation arises. These two colleagues have given me a lot of confidence.”

Christophe has been teaching every off-season since 2015 (the same year he made his CFL debut). He was previously substitute teaching as well as teaching English in Waterloo.

Is this a sign that Christophe is preparing for life post-football? The young father of two is in no rush to decide. “I love this life for now but I’m not there yet. We will see once I am done playing football. Several things can happen between now and then.”

Over the vacation season he will begin preparing for his football camps for 13-to-17-year-olds that are held in Granby (the camps started in 2018). Whether in the class or on the field, Christophe is a mentor who inspires and sets a good example for the adults of tomorrow…