From Janitor to 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.

Joseph ‘Gabe’ Sonnier seems at home as the principal of Port Barre Elementary School, but the story of how he got there is a definitely an unusual one. After dropping out of Southern University in 1979 to help his mom out around the house, Sonnier became a janitor at a local elementary school. When he first began working, he was pulled aside by the current principal and he was told “I’d rather see you grading papers.” Sonnier said he took that comment to heart.

He would work from 5-7 in the morning and then go to classes. After that, he’d come back and put in the rest of his hours as a janitor, do homework, and get a few hours of sleep.

Sonnier is a living example of perseverance, and he’s gained some wisdom along the way! “It’s not about where you start,” he says, “but where you finish.”

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