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APSU Now Offers First Registered Apprenticeship Program for Teaching in the Country

In 2021, AACTE supported a federal application by the State of Tennessee and member institution Austin Peay State University (APSU) to create educator preparation-based Grow Your Own programs as acceptable apprenticeships for aspiring educators. After rigorous review and meetings with state and federal officials, AACTE endorsed the effort, which partners college or university educator preparation programs (EPPs) with local school districts to ensure teacher candidates are profession-ready upon entering the classroom.

Paving the way for teaching and educator workforce development nationwide, the Tennessee Department of Education announced it has pioneered a new way to develop teacher pipelines, and is the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a permanent Grow Your Own model, with Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and Austin Peay State University’s Teacher Residency program becoming the first registered apprenticeship program for teaching in the country. Tennessee is the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs between school districts and Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs), which will further the state’s and nation’s efforts to extend the teacher pipeline and address teacher shortages.

This work builds on the state’s 65 existing Grow Your Own programs, which offers free opportunities to become a teacher, currently operating in Tennessee and clears the path for any other state or territory to launch similar programs with federal approval

“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.”

“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.”

“Tennessee’s leadership in expanding its ‘Grow Your Own’ program is a model for states across the country that are working to address shortages in the educator workforce and expand the pipeline into the teaching profession. Especially in the ongoing recovery from the pandemic, this work could not be more urgent or necessary,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I am proud that Tennessee is creating a bold solution to cultivate teaching talent with the support of American Rescue Plan funds, and I look forward to seeing how this apprenticeship program positively impacts teaching and learning across the state.”

“Teachers have always been heroes and the stresses of the COVID pandemic have demonstrated just how valuable they are for the healthy development of our children,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “I am proud that the Department of Labor is partnering with the State of Tennessee on this pioneering teacher Registered Apprenticeship program that will help grow a diverse, local pipeline of educators for years to come. Registered Apprenticeship has opened the doors to so many good jobs across our economy, and Tennessee’s innovative teacher apprenticeship program now offers a new pathway to the classroom at a critical time for our children, schools and communities.”

“Apprenticeships are a long-proven method to grow a skilled and qualified workforce,” said Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord. “Working with the Tennessee Department of Education to develop a registered apprenticeship program for teachers is the next step in Tennessee’s workforce development journey. This innovative approach will serve to recruit new talent and help to create a workforce pipeline into the state’s school districts for years to come.”

In October 2020, the Tennessee Department of Education launched the first round of Grow Your Own partnerships to strengthen the teacher pipeline through 65 partnerships between 14 EPPs and 63 school districts and a total initial investment of federal relief funding that will exceed $20M. The Grow Your Own model is designed to foster partnerships between EPPs and districts to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. 

Apprenticeship programs are high-quality, industry-driven, work-based learning pathways that provide individuals with hands-on work experience while earning a wage that increases during the progression of the program. The Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship will provide a national model and permanent Grow Your Own pathway for Tennesseans to become teachers for free and obtain high-quality jobs in their own communities.

The Tennessee application included support from the American Association of College for Teacher Education; American Association of School Administrators; American Association for Employment in Education; Chiefs for Change; Council of Chief State School Officers; Deans for Impact; Education Trust; National Center for Teacher Residencies; National Education Association; New America; Professional Educators of Tennessee; Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance; Tennessee Education Association; Tennessee Organization of School Superintendent; and Tennessee School Boards Association.

“Clarksville-Montgomery County School System wants to thank the Tennessee Department of Education for sponsoring the Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship. Clarksville-Montgomery County Instruction Department partnered with Austin Peay State University and Workforce Essential to submit the first application for this apprenticeship in 2019,” said Sean Impeartrice, chief academic officer, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. “The Tennessee Department of Education took our initial work and garnered national support and completed the process for acceptance with United States Department of Labor.  Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools values the Department of Education recognizing and supporting our work in the area of ‘Grow Your Own’ teacher residency through the class-size waiver, GYO grants, and now Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship.”

“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 Jean Luna-Vedder, chief of student readiness, Tennesse 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 Grow Your Own program, click here. For additional information about apprenticeship programs and opportunities in Tennessee, click here


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