Chattanooga, TN – According to the state officials, the Grow Your Own initiative aims to set a new path for the educator profession and for Tennessee to be the top state in which to become and remain a teacher and leader for all.

Officials have announced that the Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship offers the pathway to become a teacher for free and is designed to recruit candidates from the community and for the community while addressing teacher shortages.

Commissioner Penny Schwinn released the following statement:

“Since the department first launched our Grow Your Own work in 2019, we have continued to pursue innovative opportunities and remove barriers for aspiring educators to enter the profession. 

Throughout May, we are excited to announce additional investments to scale the work statewide, share supporting resources for leveraging the Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship model, and continue to inspire the next generation of future classroom leaders to accelerate students’ outcomes and opportunities.” 

The Grow Your Initiative has 65 partnerships, which are between school districts and educator preparation programs at colleges or universities across Tennessee that offer free opportunities to become a teacher.

Building on this foundation, the state pioneered a new way to develop teacher pipelines as the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a permanent Grow Your Own model.

Tennessee was the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs between school districts and Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs), with Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and Austin Peay State University’s program becoming the first registered apprenticeship program for teaching in the country.