A 39-year-old man who started out as a student in the Denver public school system before he became a janitor is now the principal at Stedman Elementary School in Denver, Colorado. When Michael Atkins was growing up, he wasn't a big fan of school and had no plans to pursue a career in education.
After graduating from college, he got a job working part-time as a custodian at Smiley Middle School. He realized he enjoyed working with young kids and knew he wanted more out of life than a part-time janitorial job.
"There were times where I got comfortable within my custodial position, and I loved the work. I loved the people that I met. I was still able to be in front of youth. But I knew that was just the first chapter of my journey," said Atkins.
He rose up the ranks and eventually had the credentials and experience to take over a school of his own. He was named the principal at Stedman Elementary School on June 1st and is excited to start the new school year. He hopes his life experience can help him connect with many of the young students.
"A lot of my African-American male students remind me of me," Atkins said. "Not to say that they're coming from the same situation that I came from-- a household of a single mother, only engaging with my father once in my life. So not really having that rock, but needing that rock often in that time."
Atkins credits his grandmother for teaching him that it is up to him to write his own story.
"Don't let someone write your story. Make sure you write your own story," Atkin's grandmother told him. "And if someone has something to do with your story, let them edit it-- do not let them create it."