On Wed. Apr. 15, Kristina Grasty announced her upcoming resignation as LGHS principal in a school-wide video message. The two and a half minute video, which had over 3,100 views as of Friday, briefly detailed her unanticipated decision that shocked many within the LGHS community.
Noting in the video that “this time of shelter in place has caused all of us to pause, reflect, and perhaps reprioritize certain aspects of life that have come into greater clarity,” Ms. Grasty conveyed her desire to begin pursuing a doctoral program over the summer. Ultimately, she decided that she would not be able to achieve this dream while still effectively serving as principal of LGHS. Instead, Ms. Grasty has requested reassignment as an assistant principal, a position she previously held for six years.
Superintendent Mike Grove followed the announcement with an email sent to students and parents commending Grasty’s overwhelmingly positive influence as a leader at LGHS: “Kristi’s deep ties to the Los Gatos community and her wholehearted commitment to the LGHS students and staff will be missed in the principal role and Kristi has much to be proud of, including a strong legacy at LGHS.” He promised to provide updates in the coming days about the selection process of a new principal—calling it a “nationwide search”—as well as opportunities for students, staff, and families to offer input.
El Gato News followed up with an exclusive interview with Ms. Grasty, where she elaborated on her decision to step down and the significant impact that her five years as LGHS principal have had on her life and career.
In the interview, Ms. Grasty explained that she recently began reevaluating her role and purpose as an educator, a job she has wholeheartedly taken on for the past 27 years.
“I’ve never wavered from my commitment to education,” she said, “but I’m someone who doesn’t stay in the same place forever, and I don’t think any of us really do. You keep evolving.”
For Ms. Grasty, this evolution entails fulfilling her life-long dream of attaining a doctoral degree in education. Rather than making the hours-long commute to UC Berkeley, her alma mater, Ms. Grasty instead has chosen to attend San Jose State University; they accepted her application earlier this year. A comparatively shorter commute—as well as summer and weekend-based coursework—will maximize the time she can dedicate to a leadership position at LGHS.
In lieu of a traditional dissertation, she hopes to film a documentary exposing how the National School Lunch Program incentivizes the production of unhealthy foods in public schools across the country.
“I have this interest in changing education as we know it, whether it’s some subset or all students’ experiences. I like helping others and I like helping systems improve, so I just want to keep learning,” Ms. Grasty explained.
She credited the impressive creativity of high schoolers as a driving force in her return to higher education. Remarking that the best part of her job is working with students, she noted that being an educator “is one of the most beautiful professions to be in because there’s a joy, there’s an energy, there’s always new ideas. And then you have hope for who’s going to solve all the world’s problems: it’s the students we work with.”
Ms. Grasty hopes to return to LGHS next year as an assistant principal, but commented that she is “truly happy in any capacity in education.” However, she particularly appreciated the close interaction with students that she previously enjoyed as an assistant principal, whereas her current role does not allow for the same level of connection. “What I found as principal is that I’m doing a lot more adult meetings involving adult groups and decisions which, I like adults —I’m an adult—but I also like the work as an assistant principal… I think anytime you interact with young people it’s an opportunity,” she noted.
While it is currently unclear whether Ms. Grasty will indeed fulfill such a position next year, the superintendent stated in a district-wide message that “[he is] pleased that Kristi has chosen to remain in a leadership role in our district and [he looks] forward to continuing to work with her to support… students and staff moving forward.”
Regardless of how she returns, Ms. Grasty will undoubtedly continue to be an integral member of the LGHS administration and broader community.
“It takes a lot to run a school. It takes a team and it takes all of us working together—students and staff,” Ms. Grasty acknowledged. “That’s what makes a school; it’s the people. I’ve always said, ‘Our buildings are pretty at Los Gatos, but it’s the people.’”
The process of hiring a new principal will begin with a job posting on an educational platform LGHS uses called EDJOIN. The administration will also release postings in national publications, including journals and academic associations. The school will be looking for applicants both inside and outside the school district; however, the high cost of living can be a barrier for some potential outside hires. There will be a screening of applications, after which the district will form an interview committee. This committee, which will conduct several rounds of interviews, will include LGHS students, staff, and families as well as several individuals from Saratoga High School. The administration will very likely make an announcement by the end of the school year regarding the decision.
Wielding half a decade of experience, Ms. Grasty shared her coveted advice for the next principal of LGHS. “Just take that first year and get to know people,” she advised. “The beauty of Los Gatos is our school culture. We have some really creative and talented students and staff. We want to keep the goodness alive and help it flourish.”
Ms. Grasty gave a final heartfelt goodbye—at least for now—to the LGHS community: “Please know that I’m so very grateful for the experience of serving as principal of Los Gatos High School these past five years. I have cherished and enjoyed leading and supporting students, the school, and the community to the best of my ability, and so I need to thank each and every one of you for your support.”