From Janitor To Principal... Gabe Sonnier Teaches Us A Valuable Lesson: It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish

February 10, 2014

From the janitor's closet to the principal's office! Over 30 years ago Gabe Sonnier was hired as the school's janitor. Now he is the proud Principal of Port Barre Elementary in Louisiana.

© CBS News

Mr. Sonnier's incredible journey from janitor to principal began in 1985 when then-Principal Westley Jones pulled him aside one day and said, "I'd rather see you grading papers than picking them up."

© CBS News

No one had ever believed in him that much, and Sonnier took it to heart. 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.

© CBS News

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

© CBS News

And despite all the degrees and the new job, Gabe Sonnier hasn't forgotten where he came from. He still cleans his own office.

© CBS News

"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."

Source: CBS News / © 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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