Education is a cause near and dear to the country legend’s heart.

Meghan Overdeep
December 1, 2017

Gabe Brown, a teacher at William Blount High School in Maryville, Tennessee, is the latest educator to receive Dolly Parton’s Chasing Rainbows award. The award, which promotes effective teaching principles and practices, is presented every year by the Dollywood Foundation.

Brown, who has been teaching in Blount County since 2004, was recently honored in a ceremony at Dollywood, and was handed the award by Parton herself.

“I was very surprised,” Brown told Knoxville News Sentinel. “A fellow teacher nominated me for the award and I chuckled because I didn't feel worthy of being nominated and I certainly didn't feel worthy of being the recipient!”

The award is presented in partnership between the National State Teachers of the Year organization and Parton’s Dollywood Foundation. “Far too often, wonderful and talented people work in anonymity, so Dolly always embraces the opportunity to shine a light on those who do so much for children,” David Dotson, the president of the Dollywood Foundation, explained to the Sentinel.

Brown credits his wife and three children with inspiring him to be a good teacher, and says the most fulfilling part of his profession is forming long term relationships with his students.

“The most rewarding part of teaching is when former students take time out of their busy lives to contact me,” he told the Sentinel. “They like to talk about where they are in life, and sometimes the discussions go down memory lane. It is special when I hear someone mention my class and how it helped them in life's journey.”

Congrats Gabe!

To nominate a teacher for a future award, visit National Network of State Teachers of the Year at