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TDOE and UT System launch centralized program to help create career pipelines for aspiring educators

State officials said they spent $20 million to for Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, which will develop ways for educators to get credentials and endorsements.
Credit: TDOE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee officials said they are trying to make it easier and cheaper to become a teacher, and so they launched a new center to support a pipeline that helps aspiring educators get started in their careers.

On Monday they said they spent $20 million to support the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, which helps schools and districts create pipelines for people to become educators. The center effectively connects schools that train teachers, compiling resources and strategies so different schools can create ways for aspiring teachers to get their credentials.

The investment is part of a partnership with the University of Tennessee System. Officials said that they hoped the partnership would bring the Grow Your Own model across the state.

The Grow Your Own model at Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and at Austin Peay State University was the first apprenticeship program for teaching in the U.S. The Tennessee Department of Education also said it was the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a permanent Grow Your Own model.

With this model, aspiring teachers can more easily get the experience they need before qualifying for certification. Schools and districts that train teachers can also find regular, sustainable funding through the Grow Your Own model instead of constantly applying for funding.

The Grow Your Own model also helps ensure that programs across the state meet some expectations since they need to qualify for the program.

The partnership with UT to create the Grow Your Own Center would also establish campus locations at UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin and UT Southern. Officials said they hoped the expansion would attract more aspiring educators.

The centers run by UT will become a hub for schools creating apprenticeship programs, proving technical help and answering questions in a one-stop-shop format. They will also develop and recruit candidates, effecting acting as an apprenticeship administrator.

They will also offer current educators chances to pursue endorsements in special education or English as a second language. They will also offer pathways to getting credentials for leadership positions, at no additional cost to candidates or districts.

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