By Tamas Mondovics

Former Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Earl Lennard is no stranger to recognition for his hard work over the years. His most recent award, however, stirs special memories for the founding graduate of the University of South Floirda’s College of Education.

During a ceremony earlier this month, coupled with his “Last Lecture” speech held in the TECO Hall, Lennard received the Dean’s Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award from the University of South Florida’s College of Education.

Lennard, who served as Hillsborough County Public schools superintendent from 1996 through 2005, received the award as part of USF’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards. The award has been around since 1976.

A recent USF news article quoted Dr. Domenic Puglisi, director of the StavrosCenter at USF, crediting Lennard’s success to his personality.

“Well you know, he’s very friendly, very personable, very gregarious,” said Puglisi, who also served on the committee that selected Lennard for the award. “And that’s the way he was when he was as a superintendent. He wasn’t hiding in his office. He was very people-orientated. And as a consequence, he was very successful as a superintendent.”

Lennard earned his Bachelor’s in education in the inaugural 1963 class at USF.  After graduation, he began teaching elementary school to save money to go to law school, but instead found his calling in the classroom.

He spent 15 years in the classroom teaching, before moving into administration, first as deputy superintendent and then as superintendent from 1989 to 1996.

After a 41-year career Lennard retired in 2005 from education and was appointed as Hillsborough County’s Supervisor of Elections by former Governor Charlie Crist in 2009 where he served successfully until 2012 when he retired.

Adding to a list of awards, in 2009 Lennard received the Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award. The Florida Association of School Superintendents named Dr. Lennard 2003 State School Superintendent of the Year. In 2006 Earl J. Lennard High School—one of the County’s three new high schools to open that year—was named for him, which helped relieve overcrowding at East Bay High School in Gibsonton.

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