LI teacher Tiffany Seely begins her “Survivor” journey

From March to May, Plainview middle school teacher Tiffany Seely was halfway around the world, competing for a million dollars as one of 18 contestants in season 41 of “Survivor.” Wednesday (8 p.m. on CBS / 2). And while she has since acclimated to everyday life after her adventure in Fiji, she says she consciously put her family life aside and tried to stay in the present while she was there. -low.

“I was so focused on what I was doing and the present moment,” says Seely, 47, speaking by phone from her home. His two children – Lucas, a sophomore at Michigan State University, East Lansing, and Sean, a junior at Bethpage High School – “are pretty self-sufficient, so I didn’t miss them so much, because I knew they were were doing fine And I wasn’t really short of food because I had mentally prepared myself for that this was something I wasn’t going to see much. Terrier named BlackBerry, like the old phone.

“It’s the strangest thing,” Seely mused. “I missed kissing my dog ​​on the nose. I think maybe it was a comfort thing – sitting on my couch at night with my husband,” Steve Gonzalez, 48, a special agent of supervision of the FBI, “and watch a show that we love and that my dog ​​jumps to be with us. That was the kind of thing I missed.”

Seely had been a replacement for this season, waiting backstage like a double until she learned in March that she had 24 hours to pack, get ready and travel to the South Pacific archipelago of the Fiji, where she and her fellow competitors quarantined for two weeks as a COVID-19 precaution. Then they took a boat trip to Fiji Mamanuca, a resort destination of around 20 islands, where “Survivor” has been based since season 33 in 2016.

A promotional video for the season shows Seely informing her husband that she was chosen and spontaneously leaping into his arms. “The reason I got this video was because my husband was running when I got the phone call that I had been chosen. So I quickly recorded my phone when he got home. running so I could capture the moment and tell him, because he’s such a super fan. And you know, that didn’t look wrong because it wasn’t – it almost was killed when I jumped on him like that! “

Seely grew up in Forest Hills, but was born in Vienna, where her paternal grandfather had a textile business. When she was 4, the family moved to the United States, where the maternal side of her family lived. Seely and her sister Lauren suffered early tragedy when their mother, Shevi Reiss, died of ovarian cancer at the age of 43 in 1990 after a three-year battle with the disease.

“I was in my last year of high school,” Seely recalls, “and after my mom passed away, I had this idea that I was alone in the world.” She and Lauren’s dad “needed to move on in her life, and my sister and I didn’t agree with that at the time. Now we’re a big, happy family, but there have been a few. years without speaking until I had my first son. “

Having worked as a camp counselor for many years, she felt teaching was the right career. Seely graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1995 with a degree in Elementary Education, followed by a stint at Brooklyn College and a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration in 2003 from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She now teaches English Language Arts at Jamaica Academy at the Queens Alternate Learning Center.

She moved to Plainview 15 years ago with her first husband, whom she was married to for 11 years and who remains a friendly co-parent with their two boys. Her second husband, being an FBI agent, “is usually the talk of the town” because of his legendary profession, “Seely says.” But now, “she adds modestly,” that’s my time.”

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About Mark A. Tomlin

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