Tennessee Expands Free Teacher Certification Program

Advocate Andy

State announces grants to expand reach of local apprenticeship program

Tennessee residents who want to become educators may be able to do so for free through an apprenticeship program offered by local school districts. These apprenticeships, offered on a limited basis, are funded by grants from the state by way of a so-called "Grow Your Own" program. The program allows individuals who hold bachelor's degrees to complete an apprenticeship under a master teacher and earn the credentials necessary to become a certified teacher. Qualified applicants earn a teaching certificate at no cost.

This week, the Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) announced an expansion of Grow Your Own grants in order to allow more districts and interested individuals to participate.

The Tennessee Grow Your Own Center is expanding opportunities for approved apprenticeships, offering Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) the opportunity to apply for subgrants to bring more individuals into the educator profession.

“Tennessee educators work hard to advance students’ academic outcomes and ensure future readiness, inspiring for growth and achievement every day,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Building off the proven success of our earlier Grow Your Own Teacher Apprenticeship models, Tennessee is pointing the way to more effectively staff our nation's schools. We look forward to sustainable expansion through Tennessee’s strategic efforts to address teacher shortages with high-quality programs.”

Universities across the state - who partner with local districts on this teacher certification initiative - have expressed support for the program's expansion.

“Lincoln Memorial University is grateful for the opportunity to support such innovative teacher apprenticeship opportunities for future Tennessee educators,” said Dr. John McCook, Chair of the Carter & Moyer School of Education Department of Graduate Education, Lincoln Memorial University. “We’ve had tremendous success with our initial Grow Your Own programs, and our new apprenticeship pathway is truly a program full of promise. We’re proud to serve educators in their journey to support Tennessee students.” 

More information on this program can be found here.

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN
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