NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – In an effort to address teacher shortages across the state, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Thursday plans to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs.

The TDE said they have established a permanent Grow Your Own model with Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and Austin Peay State University’s Teacher Residency program.

The state of Tennessee is the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs between school districts and Educator Preparation Programs. TDE said that this program will help further the state’s and nation’s efforts to extend the teacher pipeline and address teacher shortages.

“As the first state to establish a permanent teaching apprenticeship program, Tennessee has a unique opportunity to lead the nation in education and workforce development,” said Governor Bill Lee. “These apprenticeships will create a pipeline of experienced teachers with valuable on-the-job training and help ensure quality education for generations of Tennessee students.”

There are currently 65 existing Grow Your Own programs in the state of Tennessee. Each program offers free opportunities to become a teacher, currently operating in Tennessee and clear the path for any other state or territory to launch similar programs with federal approval.

"Our teachers are heroes who have a tremendous impact on our children, and Tennessee is paving the way and has become the first state in which there is a lasting program to become a teacher for free through the Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “By establishing a permanent Grow Your Own model, Tennesseans are innovating to provide the opportunity to become teachers for free while earning a wage. We hope states across the country will utilize this model to combat teacher shortages, remove barriers to becoming an educator for people from all backgrounds and continue to invest in the teaching profession.”

TDE said the apprenticeship programs strive to offer high-quality, industry-driven, and work-based learning pathways to provide individuals with hands-on work experience while earning an increasing wage during the progression of the program.

“The impact of Tennessee becoming the first state to register teaching as an apprenticeship allows aspiring educators to gain valuable experience in classrooms with stellar teachers over an extended period while being paid,” said Dr. Jean Luna-Vedder, Chief of Student Readiness, Tennessee Department of Education. “Tennessee’s innovative Grow Your Own model combats teacher shortages and furthers the state’s efforts to ensure we have a high quality and skilled workforce that positively impacts our students.”

To learn more about the program, click here.

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