Courtesy of Evening Standard / Stringer / Getty

PEOPLE put a spotlight on Louisiana man Joseph "Gabe" Sonnier, who went from school janitor to school principal!

Sonnier was Port Barre Elementary's janitor for 27 years. Back in 1985, then principal Wesley Jones told Sonnier that being a janitor is good, but that he'd rather see him "grading papers than picking them up."

Fifteen years later, Sonnier did go back to school, all while still working his full-time job as the janitor at Port Barre Elementary. He received an associate's degree in 2006, a bachelor's degree in education in 2008, and finally a master's degree.

After all of his hard work, Sonnier was given quite the promotion. Last November, he became principal at Port Barre Elementary. Many of his current students are children of former students who knew him from his smiles and kindness in the hallways when they went to school there.

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