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It is impossible to deny that our lives are shaped by a multitude of influences, whether positive or negative, from advertising, through the media or by all kinds of leaders. When asked which people had the most significant impact on their own life, the most common answer for everyone is ‘my parents’. But outside of my parents, would be my middle school physical education teacher, Mr. Alain Donnat. But why and how this person has been so instrumental to me?

There are a lot of people who have had tremendous influence in my life. My parents have been two of the biggest influences, but my teacher has been a unique influence in my life. I am a better person for knowing him, and he taught me his personal lessons, in addition to the values my parents wanted me to learn.

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In 2016, Alain Donnat was widely reported in the national and international press, on radio and television. The images of the former Paul Fort Middle School teacher’s retirement with a bang have been shown around the world. He is probably the most famous Burgundian professor in the world. All it took was a video posted on Internet to make him a world star. On his retirement day, he walked between two lines of hundreds of children. However, Mr. Donnat is a very humble, modest and sometimes discreet person. Later, in the newspapers and on TV sets, Mr. Donnat said that his greatest award was to have his values carried over his career, praised by all, young and old. These values are perfectly reflected in his statement: “You never realize how important it is to be available and attentive to others”. Mr. Donnat has always been available to me. He was the one who detected my athletic potential, who inspired me to work at school and who incited me to give some time to others.

Showing a strong humanity and sharing his huge experience, Mr. Donnat became an inspiring person, for me and many other middle school students. The following are a few words about the lessons he has taught me and which I strive to apply every day.

  • Walk the talk! If you really want to inspire others to do something, then this ‘something’ should be a big part of your life: you have to be passionately involved. That is the reason why I aim for one hundred percent in everything I undertake.
  • Express your enthusiasm! Passion is for you to be ready to express if you want to inspire people. By sharing my passion for track and field, by proudly wearing the club jersey during competitions or by getting involved in the life of the class, I try to share my excitement.
  • Be someone who is worth following! People look more to what you do than they listen to what you are saying. Each day during my training, I try to push myself beyond the limits of my skills, no matter how difficult it may be. I never give up in spite of the pain of effort. I always try to set a good example.
  • Seek excellence in the things you do and most importantly, be yourself! The intense training sessions and the hours spent on homework have allowed me to achieve good grades. If there are times when my performance or score are not good enough, I know that I am fully to be blamed.
  • Keep a cool mind in tense situations! Mental conditioning is a great help in understanding moments of stress, particularly in important competitions.
  • Stay positive, enjoy the pleasant outcomes and learn from others: your positivity will help to encourage people around you! Mr. Donnat taught me how to learn from my mistakes and how to translate them into positive energies.
  • Be attentive towards people and challenge them in doing their very best! I know Mr. Donnat was expecting great things from his pupils. Our team often made a great effort to meet his expectations. It is through this state of mind that I have been able to reach the highest level.

Now retired, but still present on the athletics tracks, this exemplary citizen continues to spend his time by intervening in schools to promote the values he has carried throughout his life. Recently, I had the pleasure of assisting him and it was an honor to be involved. Whether in the classroom, in sports contests or when I work with small children, I have a special thought for Mr. Donnat. I guess I probably wouldn’t be writing these words if I didn’t have the teachings of this good person. Nowadays, it is a real privilege to have them shared.

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