Hamblen health coordinator recognized

Kellie Smith, Hamblen County school health coordinator, was watching a virtual conference for Tennessee Coordinated School Health when she heard the news.

She won the Region 1 Tennessee Coordinated School Health Supervisor of the Year award. She never knew she was nominated.

“I was very surprised and honored to receive this recognition. The school system administration’s guidance has been very encouraging and supportive. I am thrilled to work with education professionals that always put students first,” she said.

Smith joined four other Hamblen County school officials honored within the past year as the best in the state. Dr. Jeff Perry, Hamblen County school superintendent, was nominated for state Supervisor of the Year, Matt Drinnon as Principal of the Year, Mandy Lloyd as Supervisor of the Year and Hannah Hopper, Teacher of the Year.

Tennessee Coordinated School Health connects physical, emotional and social health with education through eight inter-related components. This coordinated approach improves students’ health and their capacity to learn through the support of families, communities and schools working together. Coordinated School Health works with many partners to address school health priorities.

Perry said the honor was well deserved. He said Smith took on many other responsibilities this past year not in her job resume, such as acting as coordinator for the Hamblen County COVID-19 Task Force and handling questions from the public during the height of the pandemic.

He said she also went above and beyond by providing assistance in the community.

“She was helping with food assistance, she was helping with gas assistance,” he said.

He said there are many outstanding individuals that helped when the pandemic started last March. But, Smith stood out.

“Without a doubt, Kellie is one of those extraordinary people,” he said.

Smith has been the school health coordinator for the last 14 years.

She said there had been some things different over the last year.

“As School Health Coordinator this year, I have been able to step into the role as contact person for any COVID-19 related issues, and work eagerly, along with school administrators and school nurses, to do the best we could to keep students safe,” she said.

But, she credits those around her.

“I’m thankful to work with great school nurses and other professionals in Hamblen County,” she said. “And I’m thankful for the administration’s leadership and guidance this year.”