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An #AACTE22 Recap – Apprenticeships for Teaching: A National Model

Teacher posing in front of class with tablet pc at elementary schoolIn an effort to find a lasting solution to the teacher shortage crisis in the United States, Austin Peay State University (APSU) and Clarksville Montgomery County School System (CMSS) of Tennessee developed and successfully implemented an educator preparation-program called “Grow Your  Own.” Given the program’s success, the Tennessee Department of Education became the first state to establish a permanent model of the program in January of 2020. The Apprenticeships for Teaching: A National Model session of the AACTE 2022 Annual Meeting brought together the pioneers of the apprenticeship program to share their success stories, which could serve as a national model. The speakers included Prentice Chandler, dean of the APSU Eriksson College of Education; Lisa Barron, associate dean and director of teacher education at APSU; and Sean Impeartrice, chief academic officer of CMSS.


Lisa Barron opened the session by providing a brief background on CMSS, highlighting key statistics such as the district’s graduation rate (94-96%) and student population (37,000)She later drew from the U.S. Department of Education’s data to explain the correlation between the need for teachers and the actual supply of teachers in the state of Tennessee. The data analysis showed a decline in college students choosing education as their major. More broadly, she provided the following as the causes of the teacher shortage in the United States:

  • The decline in teacher preparation enrollments;
  • Higher teacher-student ratio;
  • Higher student enrollment;
  • Higher teacher attrition;
  • Pay inequities; and
  • Concern about COVID-19 and other health-related issues

Grow Your Own Model

As the next speaker, Prentice Chandler started with an overview of the “Grow Your Own” model  This model allows school districts to recruit teacher candidates within their communities and support them with on-the-job training to become fully certified teachers. Commenting on the model, Chandler said, “We have created a program where students graduated in three years with a bachelor’s degree and certification. They work full time with school districts with a salary, benefits, and when they graduate they also get a job.” The first cohort provided 20 high school graduates and 20 teacher aides with free tuition support to become full-time teachers in three years while earning wages. According to Chandler, one of the key benefits of this program is that the best teachers in the district mentor resident teachers as opposed to just placing teacher candidates. The program has been in operation for the last five years and owes its success to the effective collaboration between APSU and the CMSS district.

Grow-Your-Own National Model: Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship

Using industrial apprenticeship as a guiding philosophy, Sean Impeartrice stressed the quality of training industrial apprentices receive through time spent with their mentors. According to him, the traditional model run by colleges of education fails to provide student teachers with enough time to master their craft to allow them to feel comfortable in the classroom. The Tennessee Department of Education sponsored the Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship program to provide a national framework for the existing Grow-Your-Own Model. Recounting the impact of the apprenticeship model, Impeartrice shared a news report by CBS Mornings, which highlights the impact of the program in addressing the teacher shortage crisis.

A video recording of this  session is available to Annual Meeting attendees at aacteconnect.org. Additional video recordings, including the Opening and Closing Keynote session and other Deeper Dives from the 74th Annual Meeting may be accessed on Connect360.

Manasseh Cudjoe is a second-year Ph.D. student in educational studies with a concentration in STEM at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Cudjoe is also a proud AACTE Holmes Scholar.




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