Nashville, TN – Paving the way for teaching and educator workforce development nationwide, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Thursday, January 13th, 2020, it has pioneered a new way to develop teacher pipelines.
Tennessee is the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a permanent Grow Your Own model, with Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Teacher Residency program becoming the first registered apprenticeship program for teaching in the country.
“We are proud of the work that we’ve been able to accomplish with our partners — CMCSS, TDOE, and the Department of Labor — in charting a new path for teacher education in the state and the nation,” Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of the APSU Eriksson College of Education, said. “We believe that the narrative around teacher education is misleading; people do want to be teachers in our schools, as our residency programs show. We just need to make it more accessible for all. This program is a giant step in that direction. We are honored to be the first in the nation doing this groundbreaking work with CMCSS.”
This work builds on the state’s 65 existing Grow Your Own programs, which offers free opportunities to become a teacher, currently operating in Tennessee, and clears the path for any other state or territory to launch similar programs with federal approval.
“As the first state to establish a permanent teaching apprenticeship program, Tennessee has a unique opportunity to lead the nation in education and workforce development,” Governor Bill Lee said. “These apprenticeships will create a pipeline of experienced teachers with valuable on-the-job training and help ensure quality education for generations of Tennessee students.”
In 2018, APSU’s Eriksson College of Education developed an innovative partnership with CMCSS to provide 20 recent high school graduates and 20 teacher’s aides with an accelerated, free path to become full-time school system teachers in just three years.
That initiative – the Grow Your Own Residency Program – proved so successful that it was eventually adopted by colleges of education and school districts across the state. In October 2020, the Tennessee Department of Education launched its first round of Grow Your Own partnerships to strengthen the teacher pipeline through 65 partnerships between 14 EPPs and 63 school districts and a total initial investment of federal relief funding that will exceed $20M.
“Our teachers are heroes who have a tremendous impact on our children, and Tennessee is paving the way and has become the first state in which there is a lasting program to become a teacher for free through the Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “By establishing a permanent Grow Your Own model, Tennesseans are innovating to provide the opportunity to become teachers for free while earning a wage. We hope states across the country will utilize this model to combat teacher shortages, remove barriers to becoming an educator for people from all backgrounds and continue to invest in the teaching profession.”
The Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship will provide a national model and permanent Grow Your Own pathway for Tennesseans to become teachers for free and obtain high-quality jobs in their own communities.
“Tennessee’s leadership in expanding its ‘Grow Your Own’ program is a model for states across the country that are working to address shortages in the educator workforce and expand the pipeline into the teaching profession. Especially in the ongoing recovery from the pandemic, this work could not be more urgent or necessary,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I am proud that Tennessee is creating a bold solution to cultivate teaching talent with the support of American Rescue Plan funds, and I look forward to seeing how this apprenticeship program positively impacts teaching and learning across the state.”
“Teachers have always been heroes and the stresses of the COVID pandemic have demonstrated just how valuable they are for the healthy development of our children,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “I am proud that the Department of Labor is partnering with the State of Tennessee on this pioneering teacher Registered Apprenticeship program that will help grow a diverse, local pipeline of educators for years to come. Registered Apprenticeship has opened the doors to so many good jobs across our economy, and Tennessee’s innovative teacher apprenticeship program now offers a new pathway to the classroom at a critical time for our children, schools and communities.”