HCS Surprises, Honors Teachers of the Year
Posted on 01/23/2023
HCS Surprises, Honors Teachers of the Year (Chattanooga, Tennessee) - Hamilton County Schools surprised three teachers on Friday when Superintendent Dr. Justin Robertson stopped by their classrooms to congratulate each of them on being selected grade-level Teachers of the Year for the district.

Marah Smith, a first-grade teacher at Nolan Elementary; Sandra Howard, a sixth-grade english and language arts teacher at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts (CCA); and Chandler Davenport, a history teacher at The Howard School, were recognized for their exemplary work and dedication as teachers and leaders within the school system. Each had previously been named as their schools’ top teacher for the year.

Robertson joined with the winners’ principals and others to make the surprise district-level announcements and thank the honorees for their continued support of Hamilton County students. Following this recognition, these teachers now advance to the state level for Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year.

“The foundation of every great school district is great teachers,” said Robertson. “Today’s honorees are shining examples of the dedication and commitment we see every day in classrooms all across our district. I’m honored to come out and celebrate this achievement with each of these outstanding educators and their schools, and we look forward to recognizing them further in the weeks ahead.” Marah Smith has taught first grade at Nolan Elementary for four years, but she has been in the Tennessee Education system for 10 years. As an educator, Smith believes in the importance of creating an engaging and fun learning environment for her elementary students. She sets her students up for success by encouraging learning in exciting ways, such as one-on-one tutoring and community connection projects like field trips, which teach students while engaging them with fun activities. Smith recognizes the importance of building confidence in her students early in their educational careers to ensure they are excited to come to school and learn in order to set them up for success as they continue their journey beyond her classroom.

Sandra Howard has been an educator for 23 years and has spent her last 16 years at CCA. During this time, she has taught both English and language arts and communications to middle and high school students. For the last two years, she has been focused on sixth grade. Howard holds a passion for ensuring her students seek for their writing and art to be read, presented, and understood. While teaching her students at CCA, Howard has continuously searched for opportunities to connect students’ writing and art to the community while providing valuable feedback for growth and learning. One way she has done this is through connecting her students to contests and publications that allow them to gain local, regional, and national recognition, while also gaining mentorship from professionals and published authors. Howard believes students learn best when they are empowered and confident, and she is constantly looking for ways to provide her students with opportunities to build these values within them.

Chandler Davenport has been teaching in Hamilton County Schools since 2019, and she has been at The Howard School since 2020. Davenport’s passion for teaching high school students starts with history, but extends beyond her classroom. While she uses local and regional resources to connect history to community for her students, she has also worked to make an impact on their lives as they continue their educational journey. Davenport has led an initiative with her students to encourage post-secondary college and career options for those who were not previously considering them. She began by organizing a college visit that hosted more than 30 students, which started a chain reaction around the school. This has led to school-based scholarship sessions, an increase in student college applications, school-organized college tours, and more. Davenport credits her success to simply taking the time to get to know her students. “Taking the time to get to know my students has been, and always will be, worth it,” Davenport said.