By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Leo High School graduate returned to his south side alma mater, not for a nostalgic visit, but to take a big job.

Shaka Rawls never though he’d be the school’s new principal, CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports.

Looking at a class of 1968 photo, Rawls said, “That was a young, naïve, ambitious man who never in a million years thought he would be in this job today.”

“I’ve made my life’s work helping young men become successful men,” Rawls said. “Being able to do that for a living is just unreal…At my alma mater.”

After years of experience working in public education, Rawls made the choice to return to the 90-year-old Catholic School.

“He understands the building,” said Leo’s president, Dan McGrath, also an alum from class of 1968. “He understands the community. He understands the kids and just brings a real burst of energy that we really need.”

The school is located in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, which faces enormous challenges.

“Leo stands as a staple in the 79th street corridor,” Rawls said. “A sign of hope that there is still quality education here, still life, still love.”

Everyone wears multiple hats, Rawls said. The school has help from loyal alumni, some of which are teaching and coaching.

Though Leo once stood a much larger school, now with only 140 students, Rawls said this is the biggest job of his life.

“Watch them blossom into a young man, a responsible adult, a caring member of society,” Rawls said.

Rawls plans to grow enrollment at the school by talking with alumni and the people of the community.