Tennessee Strengthens ‘Grow Your Own’ Initiative with Key State Partnership

Monday, February 27, 2023 | 11:30am


Secures Additional State Funding to Strengthen Educator Pipeline

Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) announced a partnership to secure continued investment and financial commitment for innovative educator preparation pathways through a component of Tennessee’s Grow Your Own initiative, the first nationally-recognized teacher apprenticeship model.

Through this partnership, 10% of available TDLWD apprenticeship funding amounts will be specifically dedicated to registered Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship programs through TDLWD’s sources. This commitment ensures that year after year, the state will continue to invest in high-quality, no-cost opportunities for Tennesseans to earn a degree and teacher’s license for free, while getting paid to do so.

Tennessee was the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to have Teacher Apprenticeship programs between school districts and EPPs, and Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship models aligns leading practices in teacher preparation and development with the rigors of the nationally registered apprenticeship process. As a part of the department’s Best for All strategic plan, 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.

To learn more about the impact of the state’s Grow Your Own initiative, watch this video.

“Tennessee is leading with the first teacher apprenticeship program in the nation, and this key state partnership will ensure more Tennesseans can skill up with the resources needed for a career in education,” said Governor Bill Lee. “I commend Department of Education and Department of Labor & Workforce for their collaboration to recruit and retain educators across the state.”

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

“Under Commissioner Schwinn’s leadership, Tennessee continues to lead the way through high-quality educator apprenticeships,” said Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Deniece Thomas. “Our team is pleased to continue partnering with the Tennessee Department of Education with sustainable funding to strengthen innovative pathways for Tennesseans to enter the educator workforce.”  

In May 2022, TDOE announced a $20 million investment to create the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, in partnership with the University of Tennessee System. With a presence in every county and multiple campus locations, the University of Tennessee System is attracting more aspiring educators to the profession. The Center is leading innovative teacher apprenticeship programs for educator credentialing, ensuring districts and candidates statewide have access to varied programs, degrees, and matches for their localized need – at no cost.

Through Grow Your Own programs across the state, each teacher apprentice will become a licensed and endorsed Tennessee educator. Each K-12 teacher apprentice is employed by the respective district and takes related coursework through the partnering EPP. To ultimately attain their teaching license, along with meeting other apprenticeship requirements, teacher apprentices seeking licensure and additional endorsements must submit qualifying scores on all required content assessments developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), National Evaluation Services (NES), or the Tennessee Language Center.

Free, audience-specific resources for state and district leaders, education stakeholders and community members looking to learn more about teacher apprenticeships can be found at our website here. 

For programmatic inquiries, contact GrowYourOwn@tn.gov. For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov