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Former Port Barre Janitor Is Now Principal

Joseph "Gabe" Sonnier

Gabe Sonnier, principal of Port Barre Elementary cleans his own office. He’s had a lot of experience cleaning the Principal’s office, all the classrooms, too. “Mr. Gabe” was the janitor for more than 27 years. His story has garnered national attention, being reported on the CBS Evening News. He was forced to drop out of college after his Freshman year in 1979. His mother was working to support five children, and couldn’t afford his college expenses. “Mr. Gabe” had experience helping his father clean offices in the Lafayette, Carencro area. He took the janitorial position at the school in 1981. He eventually developed the desire to teach, and felt it was well within his capability.

“When I would walk into class, seeing what was happening there and what they were doing, I began to say, ‘I can do this, and I would like to be that teacher, right here.”   -Joseph, “Gabe” Sonnier

The principal, Albert August encouraged him to follow that dream. The Advocate reports Sonnier worked split shifts at the school while attending LSUE. He became a 4th grade teacher in 2008, went on to earn his masters, and is now principal. I’m the son of a high school principal. This story touched my heart. I HAD to share it with you.

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