'I don't do anything special. I just show up and work hard. I show up and try my best,' said Mike Huss.
A 55-year-old Californian is being hailed an inspiration by his local community for the incredible trajectory his career has taken. Mike Huss, a former school janitor-turned-teacher, says it was a very humbling experience when he was informed he was the perfect candidate for the position of principal at Ione Elementary School in Ione, a small city about 41 miles southeast of Sacramento. "I am blessed. I truly am and I don't do anything special. I just show up and work hard. I show up and try my best," he told Good Morning America. Although he has only been principal for about two weeks, Huss has received an outpouring of support from his school staff and young students, as well as the Amador County Unified School District, which appointed him to the role.
Mike Huss says he feels "blessed" to have had such a fulfilling career so far and is excited to start a new chapter leading Ione Elementary School in Ione, California. https://t.co/lySZ6C1I0A— ABC News (@ABC) August 31, 2022
"They give me hugs and say, 'You're doing a great job,' and it's really cute to see a first grader tell you that. 'You don't even know what I'm doing. But thank you very much for saying it.' But they see me out and interacting so I think to them, that's all that matters," Huss revealed. The new principal's history with Ione Elementary can be traced all the way back to his childhood when he attended the school as a young boy. After graduating high school, Huss became a janitor at the school. Seeing how well he got along with the students, teachers at Ione encouraged him to pursue a teaching career.
Man Becomes Principal at Elementary School Where He Once Worked as a Janitor: 'I Am Blessed' https://t.co/76AmeFjlWH— People (@people) August 31, 2022
"A lot of teachers here at Ione Elementary kept saying, 'You're wasting your time. Look at these kids. They are attracted to you... and they want to be around you and they learn from you. You need to go back and became a teacher,'" Huss recalled. He was immediately convinced. When Huss had taken the school janitor job, he wasn't interested in pursuing higher education and wanted to work instead so his wife Karen could go to college. But once his first child was born, he slowly started reassessing his career goals. "When my son was about 3, I said, 'You know what? I want to show my son that you can keep growing in life,'" Huss said. "I know he was young but between the encouragement from the teachers on campus and the motivation to do something to show my son [that] nothing's impossible, I went back to school in the late '90s to get my teaching credential based on those inspirations."
Juggling his full-time job with family and school for four years was hard but Huss was determined to make it work. "I was working 40 hours a week, coaching my niece's softball team. I was going to school Tuesday and Thursday all day," he revealed, sharing that he would work from 2-11 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he attended Sacramento State during the day. Eventually, his hard work and dedication paid off and within a week of graduating, Huss got a job teaching at Ione.
"I was literally the school janitor on a Monday. I worked a double shift. I worked from 6 a.m. till about 10 p.m. that night, getting the school ready. The very next day, Tuesday, I was in my first teachers' meeting. Thursday of that same week, I had my first class," he said. Teaching has been "a very rewarding career" for him, Huss said. "What I want people to understand is that there are really good teachers out there doing really amazing jobs. It's just about growing a world, making it a better place," he added. "I really think that I can do this job... because I have the support of everyone. I have to try my best every day for them. And at the end of the year, I've told many people if the worst thing I say is, 'I tried my best and fell,' I'll try my best again next year and hopefully be even better. And I try to keep that perspective."