Custodian, 81, earns GED to land job promotion: 'It's never too late'

Herbert Perkinson spent his entire summer studying to earn his GED to fulfill a requirement to become head custodian at the middle school he has been working at for five years. (Photo: 11Alive)

An 81-year-old middle school custodian is being praised for his tenacity after he earned his GED and received a promotion at his job.

Herbert Perkinson, a retired truck driver who has been working at Woodland Middle School in East Point, Georgia for nearly five years, was up for the job of head janitor. Unfortunately, he found out he did not qualify for the position as he did not have his high school diploma or a GED.

"It broke my heart and his... that we couldn't offer him the position at the time," Michael Blankenship, the principal of the middle school, told WXIA.

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But at the encouragement of Blankenship, and with the help of his daughter, Perkinson decided to get to work to earn his GED.

“I told him that it’s never too late. The next thing I know, he comes to me and tells me he’s got a study guide and is going to take the test to get his GED," Blankenship said, according to a press release from the Bartow County School System.

"I never would have tried to get it but he wanted me to take this position," Perkinson said.

Over the summer, Perkinson would work full-time doing summer custodial work and landscaping to ensure the school, which he considers a second home, would be fully prepared for students come fall.

“He’s always talking about that job,” Lenora Perkinson, Perkinson’s wife of 20 years, told the Bartow County School System. “I’m so proud of him.”

When he wasn't working at the school, Perkinson, his daughter, and his grandson would regularly hit the library to go over high school math, history, science, reading, and writing.

His hard work paid off, and near the end of summer Perkinson passed at least two tests to receive his GED.

“I’ll never forget the smile on his face when he came to tell me he had passed the test,” Blankenship said. “This is what we’re about. Learning for all, even an 81-year-old custodian.”

School leaders are currently working to refund the cost of the test for Perkinson and are set to offer him the head custodian position for the 2020-21 school year when the position becomes available.

"This man represents that the learning never stops," Blankenship told WXIA.

“I couldn’t have done it without help from Principal Blankenship and my daughter,” Perkinson said. “I’m glad I can serve as a role model to some... My young grandson came to me about not wanting to finish school. After I told him my story, he’s determined to go to college.”

Blankenship and Perkinson did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

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