Gabe Sonnier

Gabe Sonnier isn’t your ordinary elementary school principal.

Still new to his job, although he has been at the same school for more than 30 years, Sonnier had a very unusual start to his career. His office was once the mop room in a hall because he used to be the Port Barre Elementary school's janitor, CBS reports.

Back in 1985, the school's principal at the time, Westley Jones, pulled him aside and said the words that would change his life forever. "I'd rather see you grading papers than picking them up," Sonnier remembered Jones telling him. Sonnier, astonished that someone believed in him, took those words very seriously.

While still doing his job of tidying up the classrooms, Sonnier began his studies at the age of 39. He got a teaching degree, followed by his first teaching job and then eventually his Master of Science. "Isn't that something?" Sonnier asked CBS.


Sonnier hopes to inspire his students, and even those who aren't his students, to do the most they can and not to let their circumstances shape their future. "Don't let your situation that you're in now define what you're going to become later," Sonnier said. "I always tell them it's not where you start, it's how you finish."

Read more at CBS.