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Christi sayles

foundation service award

The Maryville City Schools Foundation is delighted to announce that Christi Sayles has been selected to receive the esteemed 2023 Foundation Service Award. The award will be presented at our annual Starlight Gala on March 1, 2024.


Ms. Sayles has played a significant role in serving the community. She has demonstrated her commitment to the community by serving on various boards and committees, including the Maryville City School Board, Maryville City Schools Foundation Board, United Way, Knox Education Foundation, Harmony Adoptions, Young Life Blount County, and Leadership Blount.


She strongly advocates for children, as evidenced by her 12-year Maryville City Schools school board tenure. One of the nominators said, "Whether quietly holding the hand of a student or publicly voting to purchase computers for every child, her selflessness and dedication to servant leadership have been a benefit and service to Maryville City Schools."



The Maryville City Schools Foundation is pleased to announce that David Rule has been selected as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award.  The award ceremony will occur at the annual Starlight Gala on March 1, 2024.

Chef Rule, a graduate of the Class of 2003, is a role model and an inspiration to all students. David pursued his passion for culinary arts by attending Hiwassee College and obtaining a degree in Hospitality Management.  

He gained valuable experience by working at Dancing Bear, Aubreys, and Blackberry Farm before venturing out to open his own restaurant.  He co-founded and served as the chef of Walnut Kitchen in Maryville.  

In recent years, David has also opened The Appalachian, Trotter’s Whole Hog BBQ, and The Pines Downtown restaurants in Sevierville, all reflecting East Tennessee heritage and providing Southern hospitality in a casual environment.  

One of the nominators described him as "a thriving and well-respected chef who embodies the attributes Maryville City Schools desires in all our graduates - intention, hard work, commitment, and dedication.

David Rule.jpg



The Maryville City Schools Foundation is delighted to announce that the Keller family has been selected to receive the prestigious Foundation Partnership Award for the year 2023.  The award ceremony will occur on March 1, 2024, during our annual Starlight Gala.

The Kellers have been actively involved in various regional service projects.  John has served as an Elder and Deacon in several New Providence Presbyterian Church activities.  They operate Kelmont Farms, which has been continuously functioning since 1890, growing corn, soybeans, beef cattle, straw, hay, and rye. John Keller was recognized as the Tennessee Farmer of the Year in 2014. He has previously served as the President of both the Blount County Farm Bureau and the Blount County Livestock Association.

The Keller family includes John and Susan Keller, along with their son, Sam, and daughter, Margaret Emrick. They are ardent supporters of education in Maryville. John and Susan are 4H Volunteers who have welcomed many Maryville Elementary students to their farm, where they learn about food production and witness a working farm. 

The Keller family has a long line of Maryville Alumni. John is an alumnus of Maryville High School, having graduated in 1959.  His father, Earl Keller, graduated from Maryville in 1917.  

Sam Keller is co-owner of Kelmont Farms, ensuring that this century-old farm remains in the Keller family for many years to come.  Their daughter Margaret Emrick is currently employed as a food research scientist with Nestle Foods.

One of the nominators described the family: "The Keller family is committed to the land, their community, and their fellow human beings. They are outstanding partners with the Maryville School System." 


“Keller Clan” L-R, Shanda, Sam, Elizabeth, Luke, Hannah, Isaac, John, Susan, Reece, Margaret, Connor, Jeff

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