Tennessee education department announces $2M for educator training programs

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Aspiring teachers attending seven universities across the state will be able to apply for limited full scholarships, thanks to a $2 million allocation by the Tennessee Department of Education through it’s Grow Your Own teacher education program.

Funded by Grow Your Own grants, university educator training programs partner with school districts to provide tuition-free education for aspiring teachers. Participants work as education assistants at placements in partner school districts, learning under qualified teacher mentors. The program was initiated with an eye to increasing access and removing barriers to the teaching profession.

“The Grow Your Own initiative will expand across the state and support hundreds of individuals to become teachers for free – while employed in our Tennessee school districts,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. “Right now, it could not be more important to remove barriers to the teaching profession, and I am proud of the way our state is coming together to continue preparing great teachers in innovative ways.”

The $2 million investment will support teacher training and associated placements in 35 school districts across the state and enable 262 aspiring teachers to receive training, classroom experience and a teacher license at no cost.

The competitive grant awards will expand existing Grow Your Own programs at Austin Peay State University, Lipscomb University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus, and initiate programs at Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

“UTC is thrilled to be selected as one of the Grow Your Own awardees and thankful to the Tennessee Department of Education for the award,” said School of Education Director Renee Murley, of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Between 1971 and 2017, the number of graduates earning bachelor’s degrees in education dropped by 51 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Tennessee has seen a 25 percent decrease in education graduates between 2014 and 2018. As of January, 1,134 teaching positions were unfilled across the state, according to the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

“Jackson County Schools is excited to be working with Tennessee Tech as part of the Grow Your Own initiative,” Jackson County Schools Director Kristy Brown said. “This is an incredible opportunity for our district and state to develop great teachers and fulfill critical needs in our classrooms.”

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