Catherine ‘Missy’ Lennard, principal of Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy in Apollo Beach, cuts the cake at the school’s April 15 dedication ceremony. (Photo credit: Linda Chion.)

At the April 15 dedication of the Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy in Apollo Beach, Principal Catherine ‘Missy’ Lennard made it a point to state the obvious, that as the daughter of former Hillsborough County School Superintendent Earl Lennard, education is in her blood.

“If you know me, you know I just love my school,” said Catherine, the inaugural principal of York, which opened in August 2022. She also was the inaugural principal of Stowers Elementary School in Lithia and the inaugural assistant principal of Symmes Elementary School in Riverview, which opened in 2004 and 2001, respectively.

“I’m just very excited about school,” said Catherine, who, between her first two school openings, held her first principalship at Mintz Elementary School in Brandon. “I love school.”

In that regard, Catherine has a tight bond with Liz York-Cohen, who at the April 15 dedication of the Pre-K-8 school recognized that both she and Catherine have schools named for their parents. Lennard High School opened in Ruskin in 2006.

“I’m so honored to have this beautiful school named after my mother,” said York-Cohen, a former teacher, school principal and district administrator herself. “But I’m also so very humbled by the life she lived and the legacy she leaves behind.”

In giving details of that legacy, Rev. Gerald Lamont Thomas offered the April 15 invocation.

“Dorothy Carter York shared her unique gift of teaching, mentoring, advocating and championing the educational causes of children for over five decades,” Thomas said. “She believed in children and lived by the Christian motto, ‘don’t forget to help others.’”

He called it ‘the uplift,’ and so it was in the York multipurpose room, where a large group of York family members, friends and sorority sisters gathered to celebrate Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy with the community it serves.

They cheered for student performers, viewed a slideshow presentation of inaugural school year activities and honored the school’s namesake, an author, writer and educator who taught at Blake and Hillsborough high schools, at the University of Florida’s Project Upward Bound and as an adjunct professor at Hillsborough Community College.

Hillsborough school board members voted 7-0 in February 2022 to name the 1,600-student, five-building complex in the master-planned Waterset community for Dorothy C. York, who died in 2012.

Previous articleHillsborough Soil And Water Conservation District Presents Awards, Scholarships And Mini Grants
Next articleCoaching Spotlight: Benjamin Addis, East Bay High School