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VIDEO: French headteacher’s emotion at surprise retirement show

‘I don’t think many teachers get a retirement send-off like this’: Singer Julien Clerc surprised the long-time educator with a song dedicated to school teachers 

A microphone pictured against a blurred outdoor background

The singer surprised the headteacher with a performance during an outdoor school assembly Pic: Luciano Marques / Shutterstock

A headteacher of a school southeast of Paris has said her ‘heart was so full’ after parents organised a surprise show by singer Julien Clerc as a send-off for her retirement.

Florence Béguignot, aged 62, has spent 20 years working in national education, and has just retired from her role as headteacher at the Jean-Monnet de Vincennes (Val-de-Marne, Ile-de-France).

Parents organised a surprise visit from the singer – who the headteacher loves – after learning that this term would be her last at the school.

The performer surprised the teacher in the playground during an outdoor assembly, singing his song Mademoiselle, and gifting her a bunch of flowers, in front of the gathered teachers and 300 pupils.

The children had been taught the song secretly by one of the teachers, and as they were singing it, the star joined in. The pupils then held up the word ‘Merci (thank you)’. 

The teacher organising the event had also obtained permission for all of the children involved to be filmed for a video of the event.

Ms Béguignot, who was visibly shocked and emotional during the event, told FranceInfo: “I had already had a great retirement party, but this was an incredible surprise, I was very moved. I don't think many teachers get a retirement send-off like this.”

Mr Clerc also invited the teacher and a colleague to one of his concerts at Olympia in December.

Ms Béguignot said: “In early June, I told a pupil’s mother that we would not see each other at the start of the school year, because I was retiring. 

“Eight days later, I received a phone call asking me if I liked Julien Clerc, I said 'of course'! But I thought the parents would maybe give me a small gift. I didn’t notice anything. The children learned the song in class, and had never sung it all together before this.”

The song Mademoiselle was actually written by songwriter Didier Barvelivien in honour of teachers, and appeared on Mr Clerc’s most recent album.

The singer told Europe 1: “These lyrics speak of those people to whom we owe everything. Because they are the people who get us into life.”

The lyrics include the words: “Mademoiselle who taught me, reading and poetry, the pretty fables of La Fontaine, Victor Hugo and Paul Verlaine, you have brightened my life (Mademoiselle qui m'avez appris, la lecture et la poésie, les jolies fables de La Fontaine, Victor Hugo et Paul Verlaine, vous avez embelli ma viе).”

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