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Alumni Spotlight: A ‘Greater Power’ Led Amanda McKinney to Her Teaching Career

Now a Teacher at Wallace A. Smith Elementary, McKinney Graduated in 1992

AMANDA MCKINNEY THEN AND NOW -- Amanda McKinney reminisces about her past at Chattanooga Central High School.

AMANDA MCKINNEY THEN AND NOW -- Amanda McKinney reminisces about her past at Chattanooga Central High School.

Preston Fore, Assistant Editor

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When Amanda McKinney graduated from Chattanooga Central High School in 1992, her goal was to major in photo journalism. After the major program was discontinued at Tennessee Wesleyan University, she turned to a major that she despised the thought of as a senior in high school: teaching.

“I was so opposed to being a teacher; even when asked while still in high school during my senior year if I would be a teacher, I always responded ‘never!,'” exclaimed McKinney. “After my senior year in high school I did not work that summer, but the summer after my freshman year of college I worked as the teacher of the 2 year–3 year old class at my Church daycare, St. John United Methodist Church. That is probably what sealed the deal that I was meant to work with kids. I guess it goes to show that we are not actually in control of our lives; there is a greater power at work.”

After earning a Bachelors of Science in Human Learning from Tennessee Wesleyan, McKinney began her career as an educator as an educational assistant in the CDC/Multi-handicapped classroom, right after her student teaching at Wallace A. Smith Elementary ended. The next school year she began her work at Lakeside Elementary, teaching kindergarten, however the next year the school transitioned to a magnet school, and McKinney transferred to East Side Elementary, where she was a 3rd grade year for several years.

“I had an amazing experience working with some great educators and administration [at East Side Elementary]. During that time I, along with the school, was featured in the Reader’s Digest Magazine for the great accomplishments we had made in turning the academic progress of that school around,” explained McKinney.

Amanda McKinney decided to return to college to pursue her Master’s degree, while continuing to manage a classroom. From 2003-2005, McKinney earned her Master’s degree in School Administration K-12. Taking on a new adventure, she took to another role as a 3rd grade teacher right across the street from her high school, at Harrison Elementary. She taught there for two years before finally moving to her current place of work.

“In the fall of 2009 I began teaching at Wallace A. Smith Elementary, and I am still currently teaching there today in 3rd grade. I have had close to 400 students enter through my class door over the years. To this day I still have contact with many of these students,” shared McKinney.

One can say that teaching is now Ms. McKinney’s passion, as every year she welcomes, with open arms, a new group of students that she treats as her own children, while also making sure they receive a superb education.

Amanda McKinney has called Harrison, Tennessee and Central High School her home for many years. Not only does has she been an outstanding educator in the area, but she also has worked as a seasonal employee at Harrison Bay State Park at the camp-store and registration office.

At Central, she was at first a very quiet student, but working on the yearbook staff during her junior and seniors years really brought out her outspoken and vocal side in which she is known well for today. If taking pictures of everyone was not enough for her to get to know people, many certainly knew her through her mother, Mrs. Brenda McKinney. Brenda McKinney taught her very own daughter and many of her classmates during her two years at Central, while Amanda was a sophomore and junior.

“Get involved in as many activities as you can handle, while keeping that GPA up. Learn how to really study. I didn’t really have to work that hard in high school to make good grades, but that really came back to bite me in the butt in college. I had to learn how to study,” recalled McKinney. “I would also say make memories and true friends. Even after almost 25 years, I call my best friend, that I met on the very first day of school in Ms. Reich’s freshman choir, at least once a week.”

“Lastly, have fun and do not sweat the small stuff! Be friends with everyone; don’t just stay with one group, you never know what kind of connection you will make,” concluded McKinney.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Alumni Spotlight: A ‘Greater Power’ Led Amanda McKinney to Her Teaching Career”

  1. Liana on September 30th, 2016 6:11 pm

    What a great article about a great teacher. My son had her 4 years ago and to this day she checks up on him. I’ve never come across a teacher who truly cares about her students inside and outside of class. We truly love Ms. Mckinney!

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Alumni Spotlight: A ‘Greater Power’ Led Amanda McKinney to Her Teaching Career