By Wes Ramey
Like Dolly Parton, Dyane Smokorowski’s love for children and dedication to education has helped her become this year’s Chasing Rainbow Award winner. After being selected by a group of her peers, Smokorowski was presented with the award by Parton during a visit to her Chasing Rainbows Museum within her Smoky Mountain theme park.
Dyane Smokorowski serves as the Instructional Technology Coach for Andover Public Schools in Andover, Kansas and has inspired students to learn and dream big regardless of their personal situations for 17 years.
“It is difficult to admit that my personal struggles actually prepared me to be a stronger person today. I wanted to be someone who could inspire others to reach beyond their environments, beyond their extremities, and to do as I have always done—to dream big!” said Smokorowski.
Smokorowski has indeed risen above personal hurdles and encourages her students to do the same. Her teaching methods and sparkling personality push students around the world to embrace technology and reach to become the best version of themselves. Smokorowski’s dedication and merit in teaching also was recognized in 2009 as one of the Top 20 to Watch in Educational Technology from the National School Board Association, along with the honor of being chosen as the 2013 Kansas State Teacher of the Year.
Heidi Welch, 2014 Chasing Rainbows Award recipient, nominated Smokorowski and said, “Dyane is a dynamo teacher with an energy and love for others that is contagious. She has overcome tremendous personal obstacles because of her undying faith and her passion.”
Like Smokorowski and the teachers honored each year by Parton and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Parton is no stranger to humble beginnings and overcoming life’s obstacles. She was the first recipient of the Chasing Rainbows Award in 2002 for her extensive work to foster a love of reading in children across the world. Her effort to improve children’s lives inspired this award and has been reflected in its recipients throughout the years.
Each year the National Network of State Teachers of the Year honors one deserving teacher with the Chasing Rainbows Teacher of the Year Award. The recipient of this esteemed award is presented to a teacher who, like Dolly Parton, has overcome difficulties and inspires and helps children to do the same. Each award recipient has the opportunity to be Parton’s guest for a weekend at her Dollywood Theme Park where she presents them with their award. Each winner’s award is displayed proudly next to Parton’s in her Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood.