“High School Principal Dresses Like an Elf to Spread Christmas Cheer” originally appeared on ABC News and was reprinted with permission.
Students at Wylie High School in Texas were greeted by some early Christmas cheer when they arrived for class on Wednesday.
Their principal, Virdie Montgomery, was dressed in a fantastically festive elf costume — candy cane-striped tights, pointy hat and all — sitting high atop the school’s marquee to help spread smiles this holiday season as students entered the school.
Montgomery loves creating an enjoyable environment for his kids because, “If school is fun, the kids want to have fun, and then they want to be here and then they learn,” he told ABC News.
“We have a really strong academic school here and we have a good time,” he continued. “We want everyone to enjoy coming here every day. We have 97-something percent attendance rate. If the kids are here, we can teach them.”
The elf costume was certainly entertaining for his students, but he’s also donned pirate costumes, clown costumes and sported green face paint to every one of the theater department’s performances of “Shrek.”
Amy David, the school’s secretary, said this is nothing new for their fun-loving principal.
“He’s the most wonderful man in the entire world,” she said. “His personality is amazing. He’s outgoing, he’s a jokester. I absolutely love coming to work every single day. The atmosphere he’s created in the last five years is you want to be here, you want to be around the kids. It’s very much a family environment. We all feel that we’re family. I absolutely love working for the man.”
“This year he was a pirate twice, one time for National Talk Like a Pirate Day, then for Halloween,” David recalled. “He’s also been a clown. Sometimes he’s gone into meetings with parents dressed like a clown.”
“It looks like it may just be fun, but there’s purpose behind it,” said Montgomery. “I want it to be a place that’s inviting and kids want to come and they feel comfortable and will come talk to you. There’s an open door. They just walk in. I want them to know that and I want them to feel that. For a principal to be visible for 2,300 kids, that’s important. I’m at everything they do. I want them to know me personally so they know where they can go.”
The fact that their principal was dressed up as elf wasn’t so surprising to the Wylie students. What was, however, was seeing him on top of the giant sign at the school’s busy entrance, because Montgomery is afraid of heights.
“I don’t like heights,” he said. “Our marquee sits out on a corner where the mayor tells me 22,000 people pass by every day. I was up there Facebook Live’ing the whole thing. My daughter also works in the district and she helped me get up there on a ladder. Then I had her take it away before the students got there. I get to school every day at 6 a.m. so I had a lot of time to kill.”
The photos of the school’s life sized “Elf on the Shelf” started to quickly gain attention on social media with students and faculty posting photos and videos as soon as they arrived. And for Montgomery, being the source of that holiday cheer and creating a friendly, inviting atmosphere is what it’s all about.
“High school is a place where you need to create memories for kids,” he said. “We all tell stories of our high school days, and when they’re under my charge, I want to make sure they get good memories. I want the kids to have been impacted and remember stuff about me and have a legacy. I love the kids. And the older I get it seems to be funny to them — some old geezer out there doing stuff like this.”More On