Pinellas County Schools superintendent Michael Grego is retiring after 42 years in education. He announced his retirement on Jan. 6 and will be working until the end of this school year, with his replacement decided sometime this spring.
In an interview with SNN, Grego said he is proud of what he’s done in his 13 years as a superintendent, and still has a lot planned.
“We’ve built a culture – and cultures don’t come and go by fast – we’ve built a culture of higher expectations for all,” Grego said.
Some of his biggest accomplishments, he said, are extending diversity district-wide, increasing student-earned industrial certifications and creating historically high graduation rates. In addition, he said, 79 percent more students are taking higher level classes since 2012 and all F schools have been eliminated in the county.
“We have more students, and more teachers, and more administrators, reaching for aspirational goals than ever before,” Grego said.
An SNN reporter caught up with Grego in an interview. Here are some highlights:
SNN: When did you decide to retire?
Grego: We’re hitting on so many of the right things at the right times that I thought this was a good time. You don’t really have a succinct second, or minute, or day that you decide, but you reflect over your career and you get a feel for what the right time is for the organization. I truly love Pinellas County School District, and I feel like this is a good time for the district and me. … I really value opportunities for students, engagement of students, and I see our STEM clubs, and elementary and middle schools taking hold. I see so many of our extracurriculars growing, and students are engaging in the learning process. That’s what makes me overjoyed about our school district. … It’s all about those unique experiences that you and your colleagues, your fellow students, really find a connection with. You flourish, and you are flourishing.
SNN: What do you think was your most difficult choice, or choices?
Grego: It’s all about strong leadership, at every single level. So, some of the difficult choices, I look at more as tremendous learning opportunities and challenges. And that is placing good strong leaders in the school setting, strong leaders at the district level, strong superintendents, cabinet, leadership, strong leadership. … Any difficult choices I’ve had over the years is always striving to grow, and to place, and to watch, grow and watch leaders blossom where they’re planted. And that doesn’t happen by happenstance, it doesn’t happen by choice.
Croteau: Where do you plan to take your life after this? Do you plan to continue working?
Grego: I’m not rushing into anything. … My goal is to finish the school year off, more successful and more productive than ever. If you’ve ever had to do a lot of things before you leave for a trip or go off for winter break or summer vacation – that’s kind of how I’m feeling. … So honestly, I haven’t thought about what’s beyond the next six months. I promised myself not to jump into anything, after 42 years you know, which is a long time. I think that quietness and reflection is good. … It has been a love and passion of mine for my entire life, my entire professional career. I can’t see (my career) just totally going away, and right now I’ve got six months of really great exciting work to do.