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Kingsport Teacher Surprised on Last Day of School With $10,000 Scholarship

News Brief - 5/18/17

KINGSPORT — WGU Tennessee — a nonprofit, online university endorsed by the state — surprised a Kingsport City Schools employee on the final day of the school year by awarding her a $10,000 scholarship.

Kennedy Elementary instructional teaching assistant Chandar Smith learned that she earned WGU Tennessee’s Tenn-K Scholarship during “Kennedy Kudos” – an all-school award ceremony that recognizes the accomplishments and hard work of teachers, faculty, and students. Smith was surprised with a commemorative check from WGU Tennessee Chancellor Dr. Kim Estep, Kingsport City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lyle Ailshie, and Kennedy Elementary Principal Dr. Janice Irvin.

“We have a partnership with Kingsport City Schools to support its employees with continuing education, so it’s extra special to be able to award a scholarship this big to an employee from the Kingsport system,” Estep said. “Our annual Tenn-K Scholarship is very competitive, and Chandar’s achievement is a testament to the quality of employees in this school system.”

Smith is working toward earning her master’s degree in order to become a special education teacher. She hopes to use her degree to create more resources for children with disabilities.

“Western Governors University is a wonderful opportunity provided by the efforts of Governor Bill Haslam, and we have communicated the various pathways to completing a college degree to our employees,” Ailshie said. “Education is our passion, and we work to model a commitment to continuous learning. I can’t tell you how happy I am for Chandra and how proud I am of her for applying for the scholarship. She is a valuable employee, and it would be great to have her in a new role of teacher.”

Smith is one of only seven Tennesseans to earn WGU Tennessee’s 2017 Tenn-K Scholarship. The scholarship — which covers more than 80 percent of WGU Tennessee’s already-low tuition of $3,000 per term for most programs — is awarded based on students’ academic records, readiness for online study, and demonstrated financial need.

“I am thrilled Chandar has been chosen to receive this generous scholarship. Western Governors University provides a flexible schedule to meet the needs of all students and accommodates for individual needs as people work toward their personal and professional goals,” Irvin said. “I am proud of Chandar for taking initiative and applying for the Tenn-K scholarship. I know she will work hard during her graduate school courses, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for her!”

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