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.