School janitor becomes principal of elementary school where he once worked: ‘I am blessed’

This is a success story that will motivate you. Mike Huss was a janitor at Ione elementary school in Ione, California. After years of hard work, he is now the principal of the school. 

The former school janitor-turned-teacher said he was so blessed for having such a rewarding career. He is also excited to assume the role of school leader.

“I am blessed. I truly am and I don’t do anything special. I just show up and try my best,” said Huss.

It has only been about a couple of weeks since Huss became principal but he’s already getting a lot of support from his school district, the school staff, and the students.

Janitor-turned-teacher with his student; a success story
Source: Mike Huss

According to him, the children give him hugs and tell him he’s doing great, which he finds very cute. He is happy that the students see him interacting and thank him, though they don’t exactly know what he’s doing.

What people don’t know is that Ione Elementary School has a special place in Huss’s heart. This school was his first and only school. He taught there for 19 of those years. He worked as a janitor in the same school before he became a teacher.

He has always been able to connect with students. They loved to chat with him while he was cleaning.

He enjoyed playing basketball and soccer with his classmates after school or during recess when he had time.

Principal Huss with a student
Source: Mike Huss

“They included me in their lives, they shared things with me and they treated me like a friend. It was really positive feedback that I would get from them, even then,” Huss said.

The teachers encouraged him to become a teacher after he saw this. “A lot of teachers here at Ione Elementary kept saying, ‘You’re wasting your time. Take a look at these children. They are attracted and want to be with you. You need to go back and become a teacher,’” the janitor-turned-teacher recalled.

Mike Huss's kindergarten ID
Source: Mike Huss

When he was working as a janitor, he didn’t really think of pursuing higher education. He’d rather work to support her wife’s education, which was in college at that time. Only after he had his first child did he realize how important growth was and that he wanted it to be shown to him.

He returned to school in the late 90s to earn his teaching credential. He managed to balance his full-time job, family, and studies for four years.

“I was working 40 hours a week, coaching my niece’s softball team. I was going to school Tuesday and Thursday all day,” Huss said. Huss’ wife was there to support him 100% and shared the childcare duties.

Janitor-turned teacher becomes principal
Source: Mike Huss

Huss was a hard worker and determined student who completed his degree in 2003. He got a job at Ione Elementary school within a week of graduating. He has been a constant presence at the school since then.

Huss finds teaching to be a very rewarding job. For him, it’s important that the students grow up not just remembering the lessons but also how a teacher made them feel.

“You remember how much they cared. You also remember the ones that don’t care as well,” Huss said. “Teachers don’t realize they have that power. They impact a student’s life forever.”

Principal Huss with students
Source: Mike Huss

Huss said that he was excited to be a teacher after Covid-19, and was ready to teach up to fifth grade. He was therefore shocked when they offered him the position of principal one week before school started.

Huss misses being a teacher, but he is excited about taking on new responsibilities to improve the school. He still finds time to visit the students on their lunch break and greet them every day.

“I don’t want to be one of those one or two-year principals. If I am allowed to stay for seven to ten more years, I will. [the district] will let me,” Huss said. “I want to be present for the students.”

Principal Huss and his family
Source: Mike Huss

Huss believes that without others’ support, no one can be successful. “It’s really not about me.

It’s about all those people in this community that pushed me and supported me and believed in me all these years in every job I’ve had in the district. That is what kind of pushes me forward now,” Huss concluded.

Watch the video below to learn more about this story of success.

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