Smoky Mountain Home Education Association recognizes a graduating senior annually to honor Cory Bennett for his years of commitment to the East Tennessee homeschooling community and the organization of SMHEA. 



In 1985, Cory Bennett began a commitment to the homeschooling community by serving on the board that was known as the Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Tennessee Home Education Association. During the 90’s, Cory developed the corporate charter and by-laws so that the foundation of SMHEA could be formed. Cory was instrumental in obtaining the IRS 501c(3) status for SMHEA. His commitment was not restricted to infrastructure, but also to developing educational handbooks and leadership development seminars to assist county support groups.

In 2003, Cory began serving in the role of Area Coordinator for the SMHEA board. He would serve in this role until 2012. During his long tenure, Cory implemented various facets and programs of SMHEA that provided for the needs of the homeschooling community. Whether it was the used curriculum sale, the SMHEA website, Homeschool 101 workshops, or resource fairs, Cory demonstrated wholehearted sacrifice to home education in East Tennessee.

In January 2016, the SMHEA board announced the Bennett Award for Outstanding Community Service to be awarded to a graduating senior in recognition of Cory’s 27 years of commitment to the East Tennessee homeschooling community and the organization of SMHEA.

Eligibility Requirements

Each applicant must apply during the school year in which he or she intends to graduate from high school. The applicant must be a Christian and have been home educated for at least three years of high school with the senior year counting as one of those years. He/she must have been registered with a local education agency or a church-related school according to Tennessee state law and must also have been a member of the Smoky Mountain Home Education Association (SMHEA) during all of his/her high school years. An exception may be made for an applicant who completed accelerated high school studies. The scholarship committee reserves the right to consider eligibility of such applicants on a case by case basis. An applicant deemed eligible to receive the Brown Scholarship may be deemed eligible to receive the Bennett Award.

The Bennett Award recipient will be recognized as one of the SMHEA Outstanding Students at the annual THEA Rally Day and must attend the ceremony to receive the award. The award recipient may request a travel stipend after attending the ceremony to offset expenses associated with attending. The travel stipend is limited to $50.00 and will be mailed to the recipient upon request. In addition, the Bennett Award recipient must attend the SMHEA graduation ceremony in May to be recognized to receive the award. Participation as a graduate in the ceremony is not required.

Please refer any questions about your membership status to

Selection Committee Process

A Bennett Award recipient is a student who utilizes his gifts and talents to significantly serve others in meaningful ways. The winning candidate demonstrates, as Cory did, an extensive and varied commitment to others. Applicants will be evaluated by the information they provide in the application, essay, and letters of reference. An impartial committee composed of members approved by the SMHEA Board of Directors will review each application and essay. In some cases, an interview may also be requested. After praying for each applicant and seeking God’s wisdom, the committee will determine who will receive the award.

How to Apply

Applications are accepted beginning September 15 of each year and may be submitted online at

Additionally, the application form may be obtained online or by mailing a request to:
P.O. Box 18501
Knoxville, TN 37928

Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope when making an application request by mail.

Required Application Materials:

The required materials include the following:

See the application form for specific instructions on these and any other required materials.


Completed applications must be received no later than January 31st.

Application materials may be submitted in the following ways:

Incomplete or late submissions will not receive consideration.

Remittance of Award

There is currently no scholarship awarded to this honor. The travel stipend may be requested after attending the THEA Rally Day ceremony by sending your request by email to

Past recipients

We are pleased to recognize our previous Bennett winners:

photo credit Beth Fellhoelter
2018’s Brown Scholarship Winner and THEA/Bennett Outstanding Student

Contact Details

Smoky Mountain Home Education Association
P.O. Box 18501
Knoxville, TN 37928



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