NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Straight from the classroom to a beach in Fiji – a teacher from Long Island is one of the 20 contestants competing on “Survivor” this season on CBS.

Before the show debuts, CBS2’s Ali Bauman caught up with the Survivor hopeful.

He knows how to energize his fourth grade class, using props like balloons as teaching tools and standing on chairs like a stage, but can Tommy Sheehan last on Survivor? Time will tell.

“On the show, you deal with so many different types of people that come from different walks of life and that’s what teaching is. Every kid is completely different,” Sheehan said.

Tommy Sheehan with his students. (Credit: CBSN New York)

The 26-year-old teaches at the Floral Park-Bellerose School District, born and raised in Bayville. He’s used to living on Long Island – but quickly learning surviving on a different island in Fiji is a lot harder.

“On that island, there’s 19 other people that are all lying to me, that are trying to vote me out.”

In March Sheehan found out he was selected to be on the shows 39th season, after sending in a three-minute demo tape. His principal gave him the three months off to film the show; having to keep it a secret from everyone.

“A couple of people said is he ok? Is he ill? Family ok? I said I don’t know, it’s a personal matter but inside I was thinking, I hope he’s winning,” Principal Jamie Adams said.

At the time, his students were confused.

“I had no idea because he couldn’t tell us,” one student said.

Now that the secret is out, another still lingers – did he win?

“I think he will win Survivor because he is very kind,” another student said.

“I think he has what it takes. He’s very strong.”

“My mom, my dad who are super fans have no idea how I placed,” Sheehan said.

No matter the case, the teacher is just happy he had the opportunity to compete.

“So it’s been a dream of mine since I was seven-years-old, I’ve been saying to my family, I’m going to go on the show.”

Now he gets to share this experience with his students.

“It’s going to be more fun to watch my students come in after every episode and be all ‘wow, I can’t believe you did that,’ or ‘Mr. Sheehan, you should have done that,’ I feel like they’re going to be my biggest critics.”

The premiere of survivor season 39, “Island of the Idols” airs Wednesday night at 8 p.m. here on CBS and CBS All Access.


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