Larry Giangrosso’s diverse roles in schools across Alabama have prepared him to take on his new role as principal of Spain Park High School. Photo courtesy of Larry Giangrosso.
Larry Giangrosso, newly appointed principal of Spain Park High School, wants his students to dream big.
“You can’t just do the core of education without passion, because that’s what drives people,” he said. “That’s what drove me.”
As a child, Giangrosso dreamed about being a major league baseball player. Today, he is thankful to his parents and teachers for encouraging him to dream while also preparing him for the future.
“We want our students to dream and to have really passionate, big goals, but at the same time, we have to prepare them for different changes in their lives that may lead them down a different path,” he said.
Spain Park is home to a unique program of career-specific “academies” whose classes allow students to explore a wide range of career options, including health sciences, law, technology, engineering and finance.
“At any time, you can see a trial going on, or you can see the handiwork of a future engineer, or you can see people that are going into the health science field learn to save lives as first responders,” Giangrosso said.
In the health sciences academy, students experience hands-on learning in a recreation of an emergency room. Remote-controlled mannequins can be programmed to simulate various emergencies such as a heart attack, and cameras in the room allow students to go over their performances afterwards.
Over the summer, Spain Park has been constructing new labs for the engineering and technology students. Also new to Spain Park this upcoming year will be courses in Mandarin Chinese taught by Steven Frost.
“These students that are in our school system now will be competing globally for jobs and for leadership roles,” Giangrosso said. “We have to prepare them not just for the state of Alabama, but for the world.”
During over 40 years in education, Giangrosso has served as both a coach and a teacher in various sports and subjects. His career began at the original W.A. Berry High School, where he served as an English teacher and coach. From 1990-1999, Giangrosso worked at Central Alabama Community College, where he started the school’s first baseball program. Before serving as assistant principal of Spain Park from 2012 to 2015, Giangrosso was head baseball coach at UAB and assistant principal at Pelham High School.
Giangrosso’s experience on the baseball diamond and in the classroom has helped him understand the importance of passion and time management for high school students.
“We’re all young at some time, but as we get older we sometimes forget the challenges that students have when they’re trying to balance getting a good education with having a passion for a sport or an extracurricular activity like band,” he said. “There’s just so many hours in a day.”
In addition to encouraging students to balance their passions with a core education, Giangrosso plans to focus on helping all students reach their goals regardless of where they are when they reach Spain Park. He recalls a saying of Bob Finley, former head football coach of Berry High School: “Our job is to teach and coach them all.”
“I’ve never forgotten that,” said Giangrosso.
With its academies, extracurricular activities, rigorous classes and sports, Giangrosso looks forward to a busy year.
“What we’re trying to do here is get every student plugged into something where they feel important, where they can thrive and where they can become leaders in the school,” said Giangrosso. “This is what education is all about. Our plates are full, and that’s the way it should be.”