A California man who started his career 30 years ago as a janitor has now become the principal of the same school. Mike Huss was a student at Ione Elementary School but later became an employee before leading the school.
Although Huss says he never wanted to join the teaching profession, it was his seventh-grade teacher who saw his potential; he says, “I remember Mrs. Collier telling me, ‘You will be such a great teacher someday,’ and I laughed at her, not going to happen, but here I am,” he said.
Huss joined Ione Elementary School as a janitor 30 years ago and spent 19 years as a teacher before starting his first year as the school principal. “I was looking forward to teaching fifth grade again, and they reached out to me and said, ‘We think you’re the leader the school needs.’ That was very humbling, and it brings chills just to say it.”
Huss says that his family and friends have backed him a hundred percent in his career and that he wanted to prove to his young son who was 3 years old when he started teaching in the school, that you can achieve anything you want to.
“If your dad can do this if your dad can be the school janitor – I was coaching youth sports, maintain a good grade point average – and become a schoolteacher, you can accomplish anything in this life, son.”
Ione Elementary School Office Administrator Melanie Cortez quipped that the only problem is that the students are missing Huss because he doesn’t get to spend much time now in the classroom.
“The kids aren’t used to seeing him in the office, so we have kids come in all day long [asking] ‘Is Mr. Huss busy?’ and so we’ve kind of had to say, ‘OK, let him answer emails – important stuff in there.”
Huss says he sees his life as an example to others that they can achieve great things if they stay on track. “Believe in one person every day that you are here help them see themselves in a different light because that’s what people have done for me my whole life,” he said.
“That’s what I’m trying to do; I’m trying to help students believe in themselves that they can accomplish great things if they just stay the course,” he adds.