From janitor to principal and only starting at 39 years old. What an acomplishment!

From janitor to principal and only starting at 39 years old.  What an acomplishment!

Gabe Sonnier, a man who started off as a janitor in a Louisiana elementary school until one day in 1985, when he was inspired by the then-principal to take up teaching.

Gabe was 39 years old when he started studying for a teaching degree. He’s now the principal of that elementary school.

At Port Barre Elementary in Port Barre, La., CBS news found the most contagious smile. It belongs to elementary school principal Gabe Sonnier and it comes so naturally they comment, it’s like his face has no other option.

Mr. Sonnier can’t even make a frown if he tries.

The guy clearly loves his job and theres good reason!

He’s new to the principal position, but he’s been working at this same school for more than 30 years. In fact, Mr. Sonnier began his career in education just down the hall.

Mr. Sonnier’s incredible journey from janitor to principal began in 1985 when then-Principal Westley Jones pulled him aside one day.

“He said, ‘I’d rather see you grading papers than picking them up,'” Mr. Sonnier recalled.

No one had ever believed in him that much.

“I took it to heart,” he said.

 So, at the age of 39, whenever he wasn’t cleaning classrooms, he was studying in them. He got his teaching degree and, shortly after, his first teaching job. Then came the Master’s of Science and Education.

“Isn’t that something?” Mr. Sonnier asked.

And there’s a lesson in there for boys and girls and grown-ups everywhere.

“Don’t let your situation that you’re in now define what you’re going to become later,” Mr. Sonnier said. “I always tell them it’s not where you start, it’s how you finish.”

And Mr. Sonnier isn’t finished yet. Before we left, he confessed that he wouldn’t mind being superintendent someday.


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