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Give a Gold Star

• Lauren Chianese

My life has been touched by many wonderful teachers. And today, I want to #GiveAGoldStar to a particularly inspiring kindergarten teacher, my friend Ms. Kelli Smith.#GiveAGoldStar Social Media

Each year, Kelli welcomes a new group of energetic children to her classroom at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Knoxville, TN. The following spring, students leave her class as excited learners and budding readers. Kelli views her kindergarten classroom as the first chance her students have at success, and she loves guiding her students as they develop a love for learning.

Kelli’s energy and passion for teaching has reached beyond her classroom. Last year, she joined the National Education Association Master Teacher Project to help develop tools and resources for new and developing teachers nationwide. And after seeing the incredible results of applying Tennessee’s higher standards in her own classroom, she was selected to train and coach teachers across her state on the new standards. Kelli is committed to helping students in her classroom and across the nation reach their full potentials.

Every day, teachers like Kelli invest time, energy and love into their students’ lives. Today, you can make a difference for these teachers by recognizing their incredible work.

Take a moment to say thank you and #GiveAGoldStar to the teachers who have impacted your life – those who have inspired and influenced you or your child. Together, let’s spread the word and #GiveAGoldStar to America’s teachers!


About the author

Lauren Chianese @lechianese

Lauren Chianese is the Director of External Affairs for theFoundation for Florida’s Future and leads the Community Engagement team. Prior to joining the Foundation for Florida’s Future, Lauren was the SeniorPolicy Analyst for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Office of Education. Lauren started her career as a 2002 Teach For America corps member teaching middle school, and has since committed to working to ensure education equity for all children. She has had the opportunity to work for Teach For America, Coro Southern California, City Year Los Angeles and the University of Southern California's ReadersPlus program in pursuit of this goal. Lauren was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up in Florida. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of Florida. She currently serves on the Heart of Central Florida United Way, Building Safe Communities through Education Cabinet and teaches dance in Orlando. Contact Lauren at