A very special “hats off” to our Center Academy Chief Operating Officer and President, Dr. Eric Larson, who is celebrating 30 years at the school this year!

Dr. Larson was born in Philadelphia and has lived in various places throughout the northeast U.S. “We moved frequently due to my father’s occupation,” he said, “and I attended five elementary schools in six years. We came to Florida when I was in the 7th grade. My Dad worked for a company that built missile guidance systems and sold them to the Air Force. A fun childhood memory is frequent trips with VIP seats to watch Gemini and Apollo lift offs.”

Dr. Larson started teaching after graduating college 43 years ago, has taught every grade level from third through twelfth, and taught at the college level for 11 years. Hired by the school’s founder, Dr. Mack Hicks, Dr. Larson was the director of the Tampa Center Academy and the Center Family Residential Program, located on a 27-acre ranch with 27 horses and 27 local and international students.

“I was immediately excited about the individualized approach to teaching based on the strengths and weaknesses of each student,” explained Dr. Larson. “We are not a one-size-fits-all school, and our approach is successful because of this.

As Center Academy’s president, I am involved in administrative work most of the time. But because my office is in one of the schools, I can see and hear what goes on daily. I enjoy watching the progress of our students, and it is uplifting to hear our teachers share the great things going on in their classrooms.”

Dr. Larson met his wife, Marlene while they were both teaching 6th grade in the same school, and have been married for 42 years. “When we took our children to the playground for recess, we sat together on a bench. So when asked how we met, I say ‘We met on the playground in 6th grade!’ We have a son and a daughter who have given us six beautiful grandchildren who are now ages 3-21, and we all live close enough to have frequent visits.”

In his free time, you’ll find Dr. Larson with his family, and occasionally playing golf. He and Marlene have been active members of their church for as long as they have been together.

Dr. Larson tells us the secret to his success is “A positive attitude, no matter what comes your way, is best for our physical and mental health. Life is too short to be in a constant state of unhappiness. I trust in the Lord daily for the strength that I need to be as successful as possible.

My prayer each morning is, ‘Lord please help me be a blessing to someone today'”.

Thank you, Dr. Larson, for sharing so much about yourself with us, and congratulations on your 30-year tenure at Center Academy!

ericlarson@centeracademy.com   office 727.541.5716  cell 813.417.0942

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