People magazine: Louisiana teacher was school's janitor for 27 years; now he's the principal _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Port Barre Elementary School Principal Joseph 'Gabe' Sonnier greets students while walking through the campus. Many of them are children of students who attended the school during the 20 years Sonnier worked as a head custodian there.

"I'd rather see you grading papers than picking them up."

That's what Port Barre Elementary principal Wesley Jones told janitor Joseph "Gabe" Sonnier one day in 1985. Fast forward to 2014, and Sonnier now has Jones' job.

People Magazine profiles Sonnier's story in a series called "Heroes Among Us."

After going to school full-time while working as the school's janitor, Sonnier was able to earn an associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree.

The Advocate profiled Sonnier this past January. He recalls saying when he first started as the school's janitor, he wanted to do that the rest of his life; that is, until he started visitng more classrooms and students.

Click here to read People's full story.