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APSU receives state subgrant to expand its innovative teacher apprenticeship program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This week, the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center announced over $5 million in subgrant funding has been awarded to five educator preparation providers (EPPs) to expand the Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship programs.

To further the statewide scale and reach, these subgrants have been awarded to five teacher apprenticeship EPPs: Austin Peay State University, Lincoln Memorial University, Arete Memphis Public Montessori, Lipscomb University and the University of Memphis. The initial subgrant funding supports the program launch, candidate enrollment and institutional costs. The APSU Eriksson College of Education will receive a $591,408 award.  

Dr. Lisa Barron

“Since the department launched the Grow Your Own initiative in 2020, we are thrilled to see higher education partners and school districts come together in innovative ways to help more aspiring teachers enter the profession,” said Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Our collaboration and shared commitment to create high-quality teacher apprenticeship programs will increase the number of qualified educators across the state serving students in our classrooms.”

In partnership with the department and University of Tennessee System, the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center is leading innovative teacher apprenticeship programs for educator credentialing, ensuring districts and candidates statewide have access to varied programs and degrees – at no cost.

Tennessee has 9 total approved EPP apprenticeship institutions, offering registered teacher apprenticeships to 30+ districts and serving 200+ candidates. Teacher apprentices at APSU do not pay for tuition or books, making the dream of becoming an educator more attainable.

“We are so grateful for the support of the TN Department of Education and the UT Grow Your Own Center,” said Dr. Lisa Barron, associate dean and director of teacher education and partnerships at APSU. “This subgrant will allow us to continue the exciting apprenticeship work we are doing with our district partners – stemming the teacher shortage and supporting a more diverse teacher workforce.” 

Dr. Prentice Chandler

Tennessee was the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to have Teacher Apprenticeship programs between school districts and EPPs, when APSU’s Eriksson College of Education partnered with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System in 2022 to create the first registered teacher apprenticeship in the nation. Dr. Prentice Chandler, the college’s dean, said this subgrant funding will assist in creating an enhanced work-based learning experience for new apprentices.

“Through valued partnerships with CMCSS and other school districts, we are achieving the goal of putting knowledgeable, well-trained educators in the classroom faster,” Chandler said. “This additional funding allows us to continue to grow our one-of-a-kind program that makes a teaching career more accessible to interested students and helps meet the critical staffing needs of our district partners.”

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. Through a strong partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the department is excited to celebrate the Grow Your Own initiative with a special event next week, to ensure commitment 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. 

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