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Man goes from janitor to school principal

Man Goes from Janitor to School Principal

Joseph 'Gabe' Sonnier seems at home as the principal of Port Barre Elementary School, but the story of how he got there is an unusual one. CBS reports that he used to be a janitor at the school. It all began back in 1985, when he was pulled aside by the current principal Westley Jones.

'He said 'I'd rather see you grading papers,'' Sonnier said. 'I took it to heart.'

At 39, Sonnier studied when he wasn't working.

Last November, he proudly became principal. One WJXT anchor said Sonnier is a living example of perseverance.

'He had dropped out of Southern University in 1979 to help his mother make ends meet. He never gave up. The new principal said he's still in awe of all his accomplishments, and it was that one opportunity,' WJXT reported.

The Advocate explains Sonnier would work from 5-7 in the morning, then go to classes. After that, he'd come back and put in the rest of his hours as a janitor. Then, he'd do homework and get a few hours of sleep. This was all on top of having a family!

Sonnier says it's not about where you start, but where you finish -- and he might not be finished yet: there's still that superintendent position he can shoot for. Oh, and Sonnier still cleans his own office.

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mgriffinwelding February 14 2014 at 4:38 AM

Mr. Sonnier, you are an inspiration to us all! Congratulations!

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punnster February 14 2014 at 4:23 AM

Way to go Mr. Sonnier. I also want to thank the principle that recognized your potential and encouraged you.

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Victoria Knobel February 14 2014 at 3:15 AM

Great man, great story....wish you lots of luck and satisfaction in your job!

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Pumpkinpie February 14 2014 at 2:19 AM

Now, he can afford to fix those choppers.

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2 replies to Pumpkinpie's comment
Nancy February 14 2014 at 4:28 AM

If you would use your intelligence for the good and praise this wonderful soul for being steadfast and reaching his goal, instead of finding fault in such a rediculous manner you might just grow up to have the character he has.... it is much easier to be a supportive person than it is to be a fault finder...... it will take you much further in life.

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mgriffinwelding February 14 2014 at 4:33 AM

Get a life! You obviously havn't done much with the one you have!

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irishroyal317 February 14 2014 at 1:44 AM

Congratulations, Principal Sonnier. You're an inspiration and a great role model.

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HI BEAUTIFUL February 14 2014 at 1:27 AM

Good for him !!!!

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Torpecker February 14 2014 at 1:24 AM

Congratulations Mr. Sonnier. You are truly a role model for anyone who wants to study hard and work hard. Bravo, Sir!

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Babe February 14 2014 at 1:05 AM

Sonnier's story is one for forever! Congratulations, and thanks for sharing this story.

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albrock February 13 2014 at 11:58 PM

Great Job... So many of us have done the same thing... I am proud of this man.. It's not the color of your skin... nor the job you first have... it's the amount of "heart" you possess... This man has a lot of HEART...

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streetlaw1 February 13 2014 at 11:49 PM

This man earned his right to be called a man. This man earned the right to be the principal. This man is an example of what it means to be a man.

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