Oprah surprises superfan teacher with visit to her Pierrefonds school

World-famous talk-show host Oprah Winfrey surprised students and staff at Collège Beaubois in Pierrefonds Monday — a dream come true for Valerie Kamel, who integrates Oprah's life lessons into her curriculum.

The world-famous talk-show host spoke with students about the impact of their teacher Valerie Kamel

Oprah surprises fans at Montreal school

4 years ago
Duration 0:44
Oprah Winfrey was in town for a stop on her speaking tour.

Oprah Winfrey surprised students and teachers — including one superfan — at Collège Beaubois in Montreal's Pierrefonds neighbourhood Monday.

The world-famous talk-show host, actress and author arrived in Montreal Sunday for a stop on her "Your Path Made Clear (Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose)" tour. 

She showed up at the school mid-morning Monday to visit Valerie Kamel, a teacher who integrates Oprah's life lessons into her curriculum.

Kamel even has a life-sized cut-out of the cultural icon standing right next to the chalkboard.

The real-life Oprah greeted students outside the school and then addressed them in the gym, to raucous cheers and great excitement.

She even tested out her French, shouting 'bonjour' to the crowd.

Oprah Winfrey rolled up to Collège Beaubois in Pierrefonds on Monday to surprise students and a teacher Valerie Kamel. (Photo by George Burns )

#Oprahtunity pays off

Kamel and her students made a video they called #Oprahtunity and shared it on Instagram to get the star's attention before she arrived in Montreal.

"I didn't even see it. A friend saw it and sent it to me," said Oprah.

Oprah sat down with Kamel onstage and took questions from the students, who praised their teacher for her open-door approach and supportive attitude.

One graduating student told Oprah during the Q&A that Kamel was the first teacher who made her feel she could achieve something.

Watch Valerie Kamel find out Oprah will be visiting her school.

Montreal teacher invited onstage to meet Oprah

4 years ago
Duration 1:12
Watch teacher Valerie Kamel find out Oprah is coming to her school.

Oprah, in turn, shared a story about her inspirational fourth-grade teacher, Miss Duncan.

"I don't have a lot of regrets, but I regret that I didn't do more for my fourth-grade teacher. When she passed away, I thought, 'Gee, I wonder how she was living? Maybe I could have bought her a house or helped her."

"She was the first teacher who made me feel seen at a time when I really needed to be seen," said Oprah.

Kamel takes in 'every moment'

At her stop at Montreal's Bell Centre Sunday, Oprah gave Kamel a shout-out and invited her onstage.

"To be called on stage and then say, 'We're coming to school' — I could not fathom or wrap my mind around it," Kamel told CBC on Monday following Oprah's visit.

Oprah Winfrey greeted students outside the school before speaking to them inside the gym. (Photo by George Burns)

Kamel said it was "incredible" to meet her hero in person, and she's grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime chance.

"I took in every moment and memorized every part of her face and what she said," Kamel said. "I have still shots in my mind that I will never forget."


Marilla Steuter-Martin

Former CBC journalist

Marilla Steuter-Martin was a journalist with CBC Montreal from 2015 to 2021.

With files from CBC's Verity Stevenson, Radio-Canada


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