Gabe Sonnier, started off as a janitor in a Louisiana elementary school until one day in 1985, when he was inspired by the then-principal to take up teaching. Gabe was 39 years old when he started studying for a teaching degree. He’s now the principal of that elementary school.
Japanese schools do not employ janitors or custodians. The Japanese education system believes that requiring students to clean the school themselves teaches respect, responsibility, and emphasizes equality.
Tokyo has a self-declared superhero who calls himself Mangetsu Man. He keeps his identity secret by wearing a purple bodysuit, with a big yellow smiley head; and his self-described job is to keep the city trash free.
A war refugee from Montenegro came to New York and began working at Columbia University as a janitor. He used Columbia’s tuition remission for employees to earn a bachelor’s degree in classics. It took him twelve years.
A man graduated from Columbia after performing his janitorial duties at the school full-time for 12 years.
Noodles, the guitarist for The Offspring, was the janitor for the school the band went to. He was allowed into the band because he was old enough to buy the band alcohol.
Most Japanese schools don’t have janitors. Instead children do the cleaning daily as part of a practice rooted in Buddhist traditions that associate cleaning with morality.
There are over 5,000 janitors in the U.S. with PhDs.