This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
As much as she wanted to, Karol Harper hadn’t planned to go back to school to get her teaching license. With a full-time job and a family — she couldn’t afford it. It would have meant a loss of income and benefits.
Harper, a teacher’s aide in the special education department at Farragut Intermediate School in Knoxville, Tennessee, was interviewing a candidate for a position at her school when she learned about her state’s new teacher apprenticeship program.
The program enables participants to get licensed as teachers through an apprenticeship, instead of paying out of pocket for the degree. Many apprentices work in a school, gradually taking on more teaching responsibilities, while studying for an education degree at night. Other students, like high schoolers and college students, work as student teachers in their local districts, while taking working toward their bachelor’s degree. The tuition and fees are paid for through the program, but in addition student apprentices get tutoring and coaching.