FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — If you flip through an old copy of the 1983-84 Columbia Elementary School yearbook, you’ll find a young student with spiky hair and a large grin.
That child now has the title of “principal” at the elementary school he attended all those years ago.
“Now, when I pop back in to visit with the teachers and with the students, I’ll be literally walking into the same room, just 40 years later,” says Columbia Elementary’s new principal, Michael Astudillo.
Astudillo began kindergarten at the Annandale school after his parents came to the United States from Colombia in 1971. The school, he says, quickly became his second home.
“The atmosphere was just very welcoming. It didn’t matter where you’re from or where you’re going,” said the principal. “When this job was posted, all of a sudden all those memories came flooding back. I started thinking about the impact I think I could make, the stories I could get to resonate with the families and kids here.”
He hopes to incorporate those stories into lessons. One instance in 6th grade, Astudillo and his friends ran down a hall for recess when a door jammed. To this day, the principal still has the scar to prove it.
“We came out of the cafeteria, we were moving too fast…this is definitely a story I am going to share with the kids about why we don’t run down the hallway,” Astudillo laughed. “I ended up coming right back up here to the clinic and going to the hospital and getting stitches.”
Astudillo also aims to encourage kids to grow up to be whatever they want — perhaps, even the principal of their former school.
“Me being here is going to send a signal that there’s a person that was in your shoes and that ended up in these shoes, so you can do it if I did it,” said Astudillo.