His professional experiences include, but are not limited to, classroom teacher, principal, instructor at Southern Illinois University and deputy superintendent of the Memphis City School system. In 1973, he was selected as one of the ten minority school administrators, nationwide, to participate in the Rockefeller Foundation’s Superintendency Training Program. As a Rockefeller Fellow, he served internships in the offices of the superintendent of Baltimore public schools and the District of Columbia public schools.
Additional professional activities include serving as adjunct professor at Memphis State University and visiting professor at Kansas State University in the areas of education, administration, curriculum and instruction. He has received numerous awards for outstanding service in education, including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Rhodes College and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Christian Brothers College. LeMoyne-Owen College presented him with the Alumnus of the Year award in 1976. He was selected I 1980, 1984 and 1987 as one of the Top 100 School Executives in the United States and Canada by Executive Educator, a professional journal. He was recipient of the 1986 Humanitarian of the Year award presented by the Memphis Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Greater Memphis State, Incorporated selected Dr. Herenton for the 1987 Educator of the Year award. The Distinguished Alumni award from Memphis State University was presented to Dr. Herenton in 1989. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Incorporated selected Dr. Herenton as one of the ten national recipients of the 1988 Horatio Alger award. He was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. American City & County Magazine named him the 2002 Municipal Leader of the year. He is a past member of the American Association of School Administrators and the American Management Association. He has served on the national board of directors of the Urban League, Junior Achievement and the national executive board of the National Conference of Christian and Jews. Dr. Herenton has served on several corporate boards including The Promus Companies Incorporated and First Tennessee National Corporation. He has devoted time to many civic and service organizations such as the March of Dimes, the United Way, the Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts and the Economic Club of Memphis.