Steinbrenner’s first principal reflects on her time as a Warrior
By Kyle LoJacono
Brenda Grasso had an interesting challenge when Steinbrenner High opened in 2009.
The Lutz school’s first principal needed to take students coming from different schools, including Gaither and Sickles, and bring them together as Steinbrenner Warriors.
Grasso’s solution was somewhat unorthodox, but also a powerful representation of the birth of the new school community.
“It was October and homecoming week the first year when I challenged students to bring in their old school T-shirts for a homecoming bonfire,” Grasso said. “I gave the students new Steinbrenner shirts when they traded in the one from their old school. We had a fire at homecoming to burn the old shirts. It was all in fun, and it created the start of some school spirit.”
Grasso led the school until April 26. She was promoted to the district level for Hillsborough County Schools. She took over as leadership director for Area 3, which includes Gaither, Freedom, Wharton, King and all the lower level schools that feed into those high schools.
Grasso started her career with Hillsborough County Schools in 1982 when she was hired as a substitute teacher at Eisenhower Junior High, now a middle school.
She became an administrator in 1997 when she was appointed assistant principal at Gaither. Grasso became the high school’s third principal in 2003 and led the Cowboys until she moved to Steinbrenner in April 2009.
Grasso said leading an established school helped prepare her for starting Steinbrenner.
“Six years as a principal of a large, thriving high school helped me learn the leadership responsibilities I would need to open a school,” Grasso said.
Grasso said she is excited about the new challenges in front of her, but said she will always remember her time with the Warriors.
“So many good memories,” Grasso said. “Athletic competitions, including girls soccer state championship (in 2011) and boys soccer state runner-up (in 2013), thriving arts programs and an A grade the last two years.
“It has been a wonderful experience to open and serve as principal at Steinbrenner,” she added. “The team there is a dedicated one, focused on student achievement and on contributing to the community. It’s a very special place.”
Kelly King, who has been the school’s assistant principal of curriculum since Steinbrenner opened, will serve as principal until a permanent replacement is found.
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker