Kingsport City Schools Instructional Assistant Surprised on Last Day of School with $10,000 Scholarship

Published May 18, 2017 at 11:15 a.m.

KINGSPORT, Tenn.Western Governor’s University – a nonprofit, online university endorsed by the state of Tennessee – 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!" 

About WGU Tennessee

WGU Tennessee is an online, nonprofit, competency-based university established to expand Tennesseans’ access to higher education throughout the state. Formed through a partnership between the state of Tennessee and nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Tennessee is open to all qualified Tennessee residents. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the high-demand career fields of business, K–12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.

Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).*

In addition to WGU Tennessee, there are five other WGU state-based, state-endorsed universities: WGU Indiana, established in June 2010; WGU Washington, established in April 2011; WGU Texas, established in August 2011; WGU Missouri, established in February 2013; and WGU Nevada, established in June 2015.

For more information, visit the WGU Tennessee website,, or call (855) 948.8495.

KCS has been named the top school district in Tennessee as winner of the 2014 SCORE Prize District Award by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and has earned the 2014 Achievement Award in the annual Excellence in Tennessee Recognition Program by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE).

For more information on KCS, visit, listen live on WCSK 90.3 FM, The Voice of KCS, read our blog, We Are KCS, or call (423) 378.2100. We’re social too; follow us on Facebook (Kingsport City Schools), Twitter (@KCS_District) and check out our YouTube Channel (KPTSchools).