With parents as educators and a staunch belief in community, Shannon Snider long knew that she wanted to embrace a path in education – before she ever graduated from Loretto High School in south-central Tennessee.
A backdrop in competitive sports – she played basketball through middle school and excelled on the softball field throughout her prep career – only further burnished Snider’s desire to impact the lives of future generations.
So the daughter of Larry and Shannon Davis taxed herself with collegiate courses at Columbia State during her prep years, engaged in the school’s strong Future Teachers of America program and graduated from MTSU with her path in education in front of her less than three years after her high school graduation. Snider holds both a bachelor’s degree and EDS from MTSU, as well as a master’s from Tennessee State and a plus-30 from Cumberland University.
Now the principal and athletics director at South Lawrence Middle School, Snider also is the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s final Distinguished Service Award recipient for the 2022-23 academic year. She never has forgotten the impact of her family, or librarian Dru Henson-Hunt who helped oversee the Future Teachers program.
“I wanted to be a teacher so badly that I ended up graduating in two-and-a-half years,” said Snider, whose educational career has included coaching boys’ and girls’ basketball, as well as volleyball, prior to her transition into athletics administration. “I had toyed with the idea growing up, I was the little kid who always played teacher, both parents were teachers, my aunt was a teacher, so I guess I can say it was in my blood.
“I think when that’s your environment, it has one of two effects: makes it be what you want to do or no way, no how to ever do that. It was to me, I guess, what motivated me. Playing teacher and wanting to boss everybody around.”
As she logged heavy academic loads at the collegiate level, with some semesters that stretched to between 21 and 24 credit hours, Snider sprinted headlong into an educational career. She served as a classroom teacher for more than a decade in her hometown community, added roles in a reading/intervention program as well as served in human resources and as an assistant principal before she climbed five years ago to her present post atop South Lawrence Middle School.
Her children, son, Branton, a rising junior and football player; daughter, Brinlyn, rising a freshman who’s also an athlete, step-daughter her name is Brianna who’s working on her second post-graduate educational degree and husband, Duke, all have been fixtures in the community. She’s quick to praise Duke for his work as a volunteer coach across multiple sports, because she sees in him his heart for helping kids.
Similarly, she’s quick to praise all the coaches, student-athletes and parents for their commitment and tireless work to the system’s success – on and off the fields of play.
South Lawrence Middle School captured both boys’ basketball and baseball state titles in 2022; the school’s girls’ programs – especially basketball – also have been at the forefront of state competitions.
She has continued to marvel at the impact of athletics – and other ventures – in the ongoing development of youth.
“I think all children need a motivation; some of them are just motivated, self-motivated, but a whole lot need something to motivate them, and I feel like athletics play that role for some students,” she said. “I think there are students that need other motivations, music, art, knowledge bowl. I think extracurricular activities in general are almost essential for students.
“It helps not only in the moment to strive to be the best but I think lifelong it has a huge impact on their success, whether it’s post-secondary skill-trade or whatever they’re going to do post-high school. I also think in life, be it work, church, family, teamwork is essential and there really is no better way to learn about true teamwork than through athletics. I’ve always said to my children, you may not be the best player, oftentimes you probably won’t be, but I always want you to be the best teammate. Some of my most prideful moments as a mom have been not where they have been honored, and they’ve been blessed to receive some amazing recognition, but nothing makes me as proud as the pictures when they’re cheering on teammates and are just proud of their team.”
TSSAA proudly salutes Shannon Snider for her contributions to student-athletes as a middle school administrator.