DENVER — In his 38 years of life, Stedman Elementary School’s new principal Michael Atkins has spent more than 30 years as a part of the Denver Public Schools System.
His first job was as a student, with no plans to stick around after graduation.
“Growing up in Park Hill, there weren’t many positive influences and/or opportunities in the neighborhood. So, I didn’t really have any aspirations to be in education,” said Atkins.
But his plans changed.
As a young adult, Atkins said he realized he liked working with kids, and shortly after, he landed his first job with DPS.
“I was the part-time custodian at Smiley Middle School which is now McAuliffe,” said Atkins.
The part-time job became full-time employment, and Atkins said he enjoyed his work.
“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.
As he reflects on his journey from custodian to principal, Atkins remembers some advice his grandmother gave him when he was a child.
“Don’t let someone write your story; make sure you write your own story. And if someone has something to do with your story, let them edit it, do not let them create it,” said Atkins.
As Atkins prepares for a new school year and yet another DPS position, he hopes to help edit dozens of unique stories that each student will carry with them as they walk through Stedman’s doors.