Louisiana principal inspires students with remarkable journey

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PORT BARRE, LA (NBC33) — It’s an inspiring story about a man who worked his way up from school janitor to principal. He’s come so far that he’s surpassed even his own imagination.

Joseph Gabriel “Gabe” Sonnier is the principal of Port Barre Elementary. But Mr. Sonnier is more than just a principal; his story is unlike many others.

In August of 1981 he started his job at Port Barre Elementary as a custodian, a job he was thrilled to have.

He was forced to drop out of school at Southern Univeristy to help take care of his family and help his mother.

“For so many years I knew about custodial work because my father did it for all of his life,” said Sonnier.

After being a custodian at Port Barre for only four years, Sonnier was told by the principal at the time that instead of picking up papers off the ground, he should be grading them.

“At that time I did take it to heart.”

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