Chasing Rainbows

Christy Maples, left, is the recipient of the 2022 Chasing Rainbows Award, presented by Edna Loveday Rogers, director of the Chasing Rainbows Award and a board member of the Dollywood Foundation.

SEVIERVILLE — Each year the Dollywood Foundation awards an exceptional teacher with Dolly Parton’s Chasing Rainbows Award, and this year’s recipient is New Center Elementary School teacher Christy Maples.

“Christy is the first awardee from Sevier County. Christy is an outstanding teacher who takes her job to heart. She had a rough childhood and God led her through it, helping her to be able to relate to her students who may be having hard times,” said Edna Loveday Rogers, director of the Chasing Rainbows Award.

Maples, who teaches third grade at New Center, has earned the respect of her peers and leaders in the Sevier County School System.

“Mrs. Maples’ classroom environment is always conducive to learning. She is always inspiring, caring, nurturing, motivating, creative, challenging, engaging, and encouraging. Christy has taught for 28 years and God took her many challenges and molded Christy into the prize-winning teacher she is. Christy, like Dolly, is a true example of what this award is meant to be,” said Nancy Sims, former principal at New Center.

A letter of recommendation states, “Christy Maples is a true hero within our community. She is not only a teacher, but she is a mentor, social worker, friend, and a loving adult.”

A former student said he considers “Mrs. Maples to be one of the greatest positive influences in my life. She taught me to be a leader and more importantly, to always be kind.”

Dolly Parton’s Chasing Rainbows Award is awarded to one applicant from across the United States. This award is special as the guidelines are: “A teacher who has overcome obstacles in his or her life, and like Dolly, is making a difference in the lives of children.

‘Dolly’s “rags to riches” story definitely tells of her overcoming such obstacles and she was awarded the first Chasing Rainbows Award by Rogers, who was the 1989 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, at the opening of the Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood on April 5, 2002. Now Dolly presents this prestigious award each year to the deserving teacher.