Two Hoover City Schools will have new principals at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, but neither of them are strangers to the Hoover community.
Larry Giangrosso, who recently accepted the principal position at Spain Park High School, is a Birmingham-native who began his career as an intern for Hoover legend Bob Finley before being hired on at Berry High School to teach English and coach basketball, football and baseball.
“I wouldn’t give anything for those years and the mentorship,” Giangrosso said. “I’ve come full circle because (Hoover) is where I started and Hoover has always given me an opportunity. I’m very thankful.”
Giangrosso, who served in various teaching, coaching and administrative roles at different high schools as well as Central Alabama Community College, is excited about the new opportunities that lay ahead at Spain Park High School he said.
“Spain Park is such a wonderful place to work,” Giangrosso said. “We have a big spectrum of students which makes it fun and exciting. The challenge is to go forward and improve no matter how good or wonderful you think a place is. We try to have as many things as we can here so that the students feel important and challenged.”
When he isn’t at work, Giangrosso enjoys spending time his wife and two children, all of whom are in the education field, and working on his golf game. He also enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and reading autobiographies of historical people.
It probably comes as no surprise to most Hoover resident that the best advice he ever received was from Coach Bob Finley.
“He told me ‘Your job is to teach and coach them all — every student, no matter what their level of experience is in the sport or academically,’” Giangrosso said. “Our challenge at Spain Park is to make sure every student gets what they need and if we can do that, we’re going to have some pretty good years.”
Giangrosso said students can also look forward to some changes in the fall including new virtual classes, a finance and IT academy, dual enrollment courses with nearby Jefferson State Community College and each student will receive a new touch screen chrome book.
“It’s very exciting with everything coming together,” Giangrosso said. “Sometimes there’s a lot going on but that’s what a high school should look like. I don’t ever worry about being too busy especially when you’re dealing with teenagers.”
A Mobile native, Lamar has worked in almost every region of Hoover in the past including what he refers to as the Berry zone, the Bumpus zone and the Simmons zone.
“I’m most excited about meeting the students,” Lamar said. “Anyone in Hoover can tell you that my singular focus is the kids. I light up when I see these kids come in for registration. On the first day of school, I get the kids to quiz me to see if I can remember their names.”
He should pass at least two name quizzes not he first day of school — his 7-year-old and 9-year-old sons will be attending Bluff Park this year.
Lamar knows his transition will be challenging.
“I think the demands are higher,” he said. “Being assistant principal before, I could always say the principal will take care of it, but now I’m that person. I’ve got to make sure I take my time and think each decision through. I’ve also got to learn the climate and culture of this school.”
In his first step to doing that, Lamar recently sent out a survey to his teachers. He plans to follow suite with his parents and then his students once the school year begins.
“I want to know what we’re doing right here at Bluff Park,” Lamar said. “Because the survey is anonymous, it’s really raw feedback. I want to make sure we all have a shared vision and I don’t want to come in making changes if there’s nothing that needs to be changed.” He also asked each teacher for three goals they had for the school.
Lamar said he will use survey results to guide his future plans. In the meantime, he’s focused on getting the school clean and ready to kick off the school year.
“One thing we’re going to push a lot this year is Panther pride,” Lamar said. Panthers are the Bluff Park Elementary School mascot. “We’re going to be talking a lot about what that means and I think the parents, students and teachers will all be talking about Panther pride.”