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In the News: APSU alumna discusses teacher apprenticeship

Lina Horton at her August 2022 commencement.

(Posted on Friday, May 12, 2023)

Lina Horton, a second-grade teacher at Byrns Darden Elementary School, recently spoke to The Washington Post about her experience in the nation’s first registered teacher apprenticeship program.

The program, launched in partnership between the Austin Peay State University Eriksson College of Education and the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, allows aspiring teachers to attend college tuition free while working in a paid position as an educational assistant in the school district.

“I knew that it was something that I would be interested in because I would be able to work,” Horton told The Washington Post.

Horton worked at CMCSS in a classified position before enrolling in the Grow Your Own Teacher Residency. While raising two children, she did not know if completing a bachelor’s degree would be an attainable goal. When the U.S. Department of Labor approved the APSU-CMCSS partnership at the first registered teacher apprenticeship in the nation in January 2022, more federal funding became available to assist these often nontraditional students in program completion. For example, these funds can support childcare expenses or car repairs that, if left unaddressed, might cause teacher residents to drop out of the program.

Several states are seeing the success of the Austin Peay Grow Your Own Teacher Residency in addressing teacher shortages, and they are adopting similar programs. This trend doesn’t surprise Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of the APSU Eriksson College of Education.

“We believe that the narrative around teacher education is misleading; people do want to be teachers in our schools, as our residency programs show,” he said. “We just need to make it more accessible for all.”

Chandler, who noted that APSU is often considered the “best kept secret in Tennessee,” is pleased to see the Grow Your Teacher Residency recognized nationally.

“We aren’t a secret anymore,” he said. “I believe that the Eriksson College of Education is the most innovative college of education in the state, doing things that have never been done before and serving as a model for the rest of the country.”

Since launching in 2019, the Grow Your Own Teacher Residency continues to expand. In addition to CMCSS, Austin Peay now partners with several rural school districts, including Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman and Robertson counties. Local community colleges are also a part of the program now, allowing teacher residents to complete an associate degree before transferring to Austin Peay. These intentional, focused partnerships are part of what makes the Grow Your Own Teacher Residency so successful.

“We focused on how to strengthen our partnership to solve national problems in teacher education — the teacher shortage, an overall lack of diversity in teaching and ensuring a teacher pipeline in high-needs, difficult-to-staff areas,” said Dr. Lisa Barron, APSU director of teacher education and partnerships.

Find more about the Grow Your Own Teacher Residency here.

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