Savannah elementary teacher Ariel Brown recognized as First Tee’s 2023 Teacher of the Year

The international youth development organization recognized Brown for her ability to connect with students and spread her love for golf.

SAVANNAH, Ga. Aug. 24, 2023 – Ariel Brown, an elementary teacher at Savannah Legacy Academy, has been named 2023 Teacher of the Year by First Tee, an international youth development nonprofit that helps kids and teens build their strength of character through golf. The award is presented to one teacher each year who has gone above and beyond in delivering the First Tee School Program, which brings First Tee’s character-building curriculum to thousands of school gyms across the country.

Brown has been an elementary teacher at Savannah Legacy Academy since 2014.  The school, located in downtown Savannah, was founded and operated by her parents. The Title 1 school serves 100% minority students, and Brown offers First Tee programming there on Fridays. Brown is also a First Tee alumna and was the first coach at First Tee – Savannah when the chapter relaunched in summer 2021.

“As a coach, Ariel thrived from the beginning,” said First Tee – Savannah program director John Parker. “She began encouraging the students in her elementary school classes to enroll in our off-site program. I can without hesitation say that some of our best kids in programming today are there because of Ariel.” 

“It’s indeed an honor to see a former First Tee – Savannah participant become the National Teacher of the Year,” said First Tee – Savannah Board Member Teia Acker Moore. “This recognition shows Ariel’s deep passion for the sport and her desire to share her knowledge and skills with others. As a teacher, she has inspired and guided new generations of golfers, imparting not only technical expertise but also sportsmanship, teamwork and personal growth. This journey and Ariel’s achievement as Teacher of the Year highlights the positive impact that First Tee has on shaping individuals’ lives and fostering a sense of community within the golfing world.”

Brown was surprised with the award in her classroom at Savannah Legacy Academy, where she was presented with balloons, flowers and a video with congratulatory messages from colleagues and loved ones. Her achievement was highlighted by Golf Digest.

Since launching in 1997, First Tee has grown into a preeminent youth development organization seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum. Its network spans 150 chapters with programs delivered at 1,400 golf courses, 10,000 schools and 1,700 youth centers in all 50 states and select international locations. In 2022, First Tee impacted more than 3.4 million kids and teens with more than 10,000 adults – from volunteers, coaches and board members – as well as teachers from schools across the country working tirelessly to help empower participants. 

Through the First Tee Awards in partnership with Golf Digest, First Tee recognizes the dedicated adults and chapters who go above and beyond to bring its mission to life every day.

“The First Tee School Program reached more than 3 million kids last year,” said First Tee CEO Greg McLaughlin. “Obviously, it takes a lot of committed adults to make that happen. But our colleagues at First Tee – Savannah told us Brown stands out for her ability to connect with the kids she serves. Congratulations to Ariel on this well-deserved honor.” 


About First Tee – Savannah 

First Tee — Savannah is one of 150 First Tee chapters across the U.S. and select international locations. Its mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character and instill life-enhancing values through the game of golf. First Tee — Savannah reaches kids and teens through programs delivered at the 5 program locations, 20schools and 4 youth centers. Learn more at 



Meri Erickson, First Tee – Savannah 
[email protected]

Dana Whitfield, First Tee – Savannah
[email protected]