‘Progress over perfection,’ says inspirational new PE teacher Cedric Gonnet
New ARHS Physical Education and Health Teacher Cedric Gonnet is a role model who leads by example. Gonnet embodies the roles of teacher, leader, coach, and trainer, but most of all he is seen by students as a reliable person to go up to and talk with.
Gonnet first fell in love with sports at age 13 after reading a Sports Illustrated book where he was introduced to the world of sports as a career path. This thought evolved as he grew, and he landed on a more specific vision in college.
Although Gonnet did not initially see himself in a school environment, he did think about other ways to provide outreach to youth. Working at a summer camp was particularly influential. “That’s when I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I could do [type of work] this in schools,” he said.
This brought Gonnet to the area in 2008 when he achieved his goal of getting a scholarship playing Division I football at UMass Amherst. At UMass, he double-majored in sports psychology and sociology.
“I worked so hard for it,” he said. “I remember waking up at six in the morning training and doing everything I could [to achieve my dream]. I finally got there, but then I got injured. I only put my identity in football and my whole identity was football.”
After his freshman-year injury, things snowballed. ”When I lost football, I didn’t know what to do with that,” he said. “And I spiraled mentally, and physically, I just couldn’t recover in the classroom.”
One thing Gonnet realized after that time was that he actually had ADHD. “I didn’t know I had it then,” he said. “So I didn’t recover as well. And I lost my scholarship because I just couldn’t keep up my grades.”
Shortly after graduating from UMass, Gonnet started to work at the LSSE rec center camp. “ I worked as a camp counselor, and a camp director, ” he said. “then I worked there as an after-school director for a long time.”
At that point, his pivot to teaching began. Once Gonnet started teaching, he never looked back. “I love my job for real,” he said. “I think about what am I doing, what am I giving back when connecting with students. That’s my favorite part. Either through play or conversation, just connecting.”
Gonnet’s whole goal during teaching is to “help students find an opportunity that I didn’t get.” He hopes to pass along wisdom from his own life and to be a help and a resource.” This mission unfolds into his everyday life beyond the classroom, as well.
In the mornings, Gonnet runs a training program, and he shares inspiration on his Instagram, @gogoactivebeast. His social media presence includes videos of him working out and pumping up others. “I want us to become a sports powerhouse, [and one part of that is helping] these kids understand who they are” and who they can become.
Gonnet’s packed schedule consists of waking up at 5 a.m., and doing his workout before his training program starts at 7 a.m.
After his full day of teaching, Gonnet switches back into the sports world between 4 and 9 p.m., as he is the coach for the freshman and sophomore basketball team, and also assists the varsity team.
In the summer and fall, Cedric holds another coaching position as the wide receivers coach at Westfield State.
Gonnet is still going at 100% after practice ends, working on his social media outreach, trying to motivate, mentor, and inform his followers. He finally has some downtime around 10:30 p.m., and then Gonnet goes to bed and repeats his routine the next day.
What gives Gonnet the energy to keep going is that he loves what he does. “Helping guide [high schoolers] through their identity is it,” he said. “They need to know they’re worthy when they walk in this building.”
Gonnet hopes students will take in his message of “progress over perfection.”
Gonnet strongly believes “[everyone] is perfectly imperfect.”
PE Teacher Brittni Upchurch said Gonnet is a role model with a big impact, modeling mutual respect between student and teacher. “He wants to impact them, and he leads by example,” Upchurch said.