Do you remember what your kindergarten teacher looked like? My mind is fuzzy after all these years, I essentially only remember the caricature of a kindly middle-aged woman who was very good at dealing with my hyper nonsense. Even with such a muddled memory, I can assure you that my kindergarten teacher looked nothing like Sylvain Helaine.
Helaine stands out from the crowd of teachers because of his tattoos. Many teachers have a couple of tattoos that they can easily hide while on the job, but Helaine's work is impossible to hide. Not only does he have an impressive full bodysuit of tattoos, but he also has most of his face tattooed, including his eyeballs.
Last year, Helaine was teaching at the Docteur Morere Elementary School just outside of Paris, France, when a parent complained their child was scared of his appearance. Shortly thereafter the school's administration made the decision to remove Helaine from his kindergarten classroom and reassign him. Now, he only teaches pupils over 6-year-old.
"I think the decision they took was quite sad," Helaine told Reuters."I'm a primary school teacher. I love my job."
Helaine told CNN that while his appearance was usually a little shocking to kids when they first met him, they quickly saw past his artwork. "All of my students and their parents were always cool with me because basically, they knew me," Helaine told CNN. "It's only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst."
There are a few reasons why it's a shame that Helaine has been removed from teaching kindergarten. Firstly, he clearly has a passion for the role. But, more importantly, having him in the classroom would teach a very important life lesson—that we shouldn't judge people solely on their appearance—at an impressionable age.
It's 2020, having a full bodysuit of tattoos shouldn't be grounds to remove a dedicated teacher from his classroom.