South Tampa elementary principal retires, leaving legacy of leadership

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Friday was emotional for teachers and students at Grady Elementary School in Tampa. After decades of teaching, and even attending school at Grady, Principal Kris Dosal said her final goodbyes before entering retirement.

They say teachers can leave a lasting impact on your life, and those who know Principal Dosal know it’s true.

“Kris is a leader, she is a mother, she is the utmost professional you'd ever want to meet," teacher Louise Doremus said.

Principal Dosal started at Grady as a third-grade student in 1964. She eventually made her way back as a teacher in '93.

"I loved it, I didn't get in too much trouble, except I talked too much," said Dosal. "I had taught at Mabry, but what brought me back to Grady was that my daughter had a brain disease. So it was either I quit teaching and take her home, or I go to where she is."

She's been at Grady Elementary ever since.

"When she passed away, I remember talking to the principal at Mabry, and she said, 'Are you coming back?' and I said 'No, I'm home, I'm staying home.' Meaning here at Grady," Dosal said.

Her legacy stretches throughout the school and the community.

"Under her leadership, we are now a school in South Tampa that people look to and admire," said Doremus.

Even the media center is named after her late mother, who spent years as a volunteer, reading to students. But for staff, Dosal is family.

"She's my mentor, she's my hero. She was there for the adoption of my boy," teacher Charlene Ritter said.

As she made her final strolls through the halls, she faced a gauntlet of hugs and well-wishes.

After nearly four decades as an educator, even Dosal’s decision to retire was an act of selflessness toward her assistant principal, who will step into Dosal’s role at Grady.

"I wasn't planning on retiring for another year or so, but I knew he'd get the job if I got out of his way," Dosal said. 

Friday may have been Mrs. Dosal's last day, but she likely won’t be kept away. She says she plans to be back next year as a volunteer just like her mom. She's also taking on the role of grandma. Her first grandbaby is due in just a few weeks.