The Rotary Club of Brandon kicked off the 2017 calendar year with a very prestigious guest speaker that has had a tremendous impact in our community for decades. Dr. Earl Lennard, former superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools from 1988 - 2005 among other community leadership roles, visited to speak with Rotarians about the current climate in both the United States and Florida with regards to the education system.
Fred Schwabe kicked things off in rare comedic form. The holidays definitely served him well as he had time to recharge and bring "the funny" back!
There was a lot to be happy for to begin the year. Justin Northcutt had 3 Happy Dollars- 1. Oldest Daughter is a delight and doing well in school, 2. Youngest daughter Bailey is doing well and recovering well from her surgery, and 3. He and his wife Kendall are expecting their third child! Now that's a lot to be happy about!
Ryan Burley gave a happy dollar celebration the birth of their first child, a son- Clark Burley, born December 26th, Rudy Liddell gave a happy dollar celebrating the marriage of his son, Mike Edenfield was happy the FL Gators won, Steve Moran was appreciative of Roger and Kimberly hosting an awesome tailgate party., Roger was thankful it was his 21st year in a row going to the Outback bowl, and he was thankful for John Sellers donating another $2k for the Rotary Event Center, and Sheila gave a happy $20.00 for a wonderful holiday and her son in law being saved. Now if that's not enough to kick off your New Year, then there's just nothing gonna make you happy!
The club celebrates a bunch of birthdays this month, and Wayne Strohaker, David Sigler, Clyde Eisenberg and Derrell Curry were all in attendance for the club's infamous Happy B-Day song.
Pat & Lee Elam celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary this month, and JJ Massaro and Larry Fassett celebrate club anniversaries this month
There was a lot going on, but the real treat was our first guest speaker of 2017, Dr Earl Lennard. Lee Elam had the honor of introducing Dr. Lennard as the former supervisor of Department of Education and also a former Rotarian of our Club.  Dr. Lennard spoke about how times have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, and because of mobility there is no longer stability in neighborhood school attendance. Most children attend several different neighborhood schools throughout their school years. Graduation rates are better because students are realizing that a high school diploma is needed to be competitive in the work force.
He felt the school year is too short for our students to remain competitive globally. His recommendation was increasing the days from 200 and then eventually to 220 days per year. School should be a full time job for our teaching staff instead of just 10 months out of the year.
Overall, it was insightful and heartening at the same time.
This week's program will be led by Labor Law Attorney, Robin M. Orosz, Esquire from Florin Roebig, P.A. 
Big reminder to keep selling Wild Game Dinner tickets, golf sponsorships and foursomes and get the community involved in our awesome fundraisers!