WOODBRIDGE, Va. (WUSA) -- Students from Enterprise Elementary are celebrating the safe return of their principal after she served in Iraq for one year.
Students lined up in the hallway to say "welcome back" to Principal Melanie McClure.
Melanie McClure is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Ready Reserve. The soldier greeted everybody in her Army fatigues.
"I think it's very brave and courageous; she stands very tall and proud," said Jemeric Thomas.
Lieutenant Colonel McClure deployed to Fort Lee, Virginia, one year ago.
"Drop everything and go," explained McClure.
Students paid tribute to McClure during a welcome home ceremony in the school gymnasium. Some told 9NEWS NOW they may never see their principal the same way again.
"I'm used to seeing her in a dress and heels, not boots and camouflage," said Talia Hayslett.
Madeline Melgar said, "Her hair used to be long, now it's short."
McClure's mission as a logistics officer included accounting for the millions of dollars worth of equipment that has been shipped to Iraq over the last eight years. She also had the rare opportunity to work with the Iraqi Minister of Education on an educational literacy initiative with the Iraqi children.
McClure said, "They are bright eyed, beautiful. They are anxious to get as much information and knowledge as they possibly can so their world and their life can be a little bit better, and that doesn't change. It's just that on this side of the ocean, the opportunities are incredible."
She says many Iraqi children are still struggling for the door of opportunity to open, but she is glad she helped provide training for a better future in that part of the world.
Written by Alex Trevino
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com