By David Carroll

SODDY-DAISY, TN (WRCB)--  Soddy-Daisy's own Stefanie Wittler says she "has the best job in the world."  As a child growing up in the Possum Creek community, she dreamed of a chance to use her talents to be a good influence on children, and she's taking full advantage of the opportunity.

After being crowned Miss Tennessee last June, Stefanie went to work for Governor Phil Bredesen's Drug Free Tennessee program, visiting hundreds of schools across the state, promoting her Project SMART program (Sports, Music, Academics, Right Track).  This week she visited ten Hamilton County schools, telling elementary students about positive influences and good study habits.

At Falling Water Elementary, students cheered as she sang "I Will Always Love You," the Dolly Parton song that wowed four million viewers in the Miss America pageant in January.  She's proud of her second runner-up finish, and tells students she hopes to use her pageant experience as a launching pad for a career in communications.

Her favorite part of the program is the "Q & A" session, in which she has to field a variety of questions from inquiring 10-year-olds.  One student asked her, "Do you have to starve yourself before a beauty pageant?"  Stefanie laughed and assured her that while fitness was important, she placed a high priority on regular, healthy meals.   She doesn't miss a beat when asked, "How do you keep that crown on your head?"  and (usually from boys) "Why isn't there a Mr. Tennessee?" 

Stefanie's schedule this week included stops at Falling Water, Allen, Snow Hill, Birchwood, North Hamilton, DuPont, Orchard Knob, Brown Academy, Spring Creek and Wolftever elementary schools, and Silverdale Baptist Academy.  She says after crowning a new Miss Tennessee this June, "I'll finish my college career at UTC and go back to being plain old Stefanie."

She and her dad, Steven Wittler will emcee the Soddy-Daisy Junior Miss program at Soddy Elementary School Saturday evening at 6:30.

Here is Stefanie's bio:

Stefanie is a senior at UT Chattanooga majoring in Communications with a minor in Sociology.

She will assist the Department of Education by speaking to elementary school students regarding the importance of building strong character and remaining drug-free.

Stefanie has spoken to thousands of school children about making wise choices using the "Think S.M.A.R.T." program that she developed.  This program encourages students to become involved in their schools and communities through academics, athletics and music, while staying on the right track and away from drugs, alcohol and violence.  Stefanie has also been appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network for Tennessee and the official state spokesperson for all the Ronald McDonald Houses in Tennessee.

Stefanie is an honors graduate of Soddy-Daisy High School in Hamilton County.  She has been recognized as one of Hamilton County's Outstanding Citizens.  She received the Hamilton County Dedication to Students Award along with the UT Chattanooga's Chancellors Award for Outstanding University Representation.

For more information on Stefanie and the Governor's Drug-Free Tennessee program, click: