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TDOE, UT System Establish the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center

$20M Partnership to Strengthen the State’s Educator Pipeline

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a group of officals from the Tennessee Department of Education, the UT System, Tennessee state government and young teachers from across the state
Officials from the UT System and Tennessee Dept. of Education announce the Grow Your Own Center on May 16, 2022.
Photo by Sam Thomas

Knoxville, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education and the University of Tennessee System announced the launch of the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, a $20 million investment to support statewide scale for innovative educator pipeline work through Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship model.

As a part of the department’s Best for All strategic plan, the Grow Your Own initiative aims to set a new path for the educator profession and for Tennessee to be the top state in which to become and remain a teacher and leader for all. Educators statewide work hard to advance students’ academic outcomes and ensure future readiness, inspiring their growth and achievement every day.

Tennessee is the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs between school districts and Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs). Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship model aligns leading practices in teacher preparation and development with the rigors of the nationally registered apprenticeship processes.

“Tennessee continues to emphasize its commitment to the educator profession and supporting our everyday heroes — our teachers — with the launch of the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are thrilled to partner with the University of Tennessee System to bring this opportunity to every corner of the state, to strengthen the state’s educator pipeline and ensure all students have access to a high-quality education.”

With a presence in every county statewide and multiple campus locations — UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin, and UT Southern — the University of Tennessee System will leverage the System’s reach to attract more aspiring educators to the profession. The Tennessee Grow Your Own Center will develop further innovative educator credentialing, additional endorsements, and professional development that reimagines coursework and content across entry points. The center’s work will support an increase in the statewide Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) enrollment, developing future educators and leaders to better support the students and state of Tennessee.

“With four educator preparation programs located across the state in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Pulaski, and UT’s presence in all 95 counties through the UT Institute of Agriculture, we are truly able to reach every corner of the state to support student achievement, train high-quality teachers, and engage every school district,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “We value our strong relationship with TDOE, and are thrilled to be working together to better serve Tennessee students.”


Primary program operations for the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center will include:

  • Lead technical assistance hub for teacher apprenticeship models. The center will support program questions, both for aspiring educators and future programs. Serving current educators, future candidates, new and current district/EPP partnerships, and stakeholders outside of Tennessee, the Grow Your Own Center will operate as the one-stop-shop for programmatic support and technical assistance.
  • Develop and recruit candidates. The University of Tennessee System will operate as an EPP apprenticeship program partner, leveraging multiple campuses and coursework to operate as a statewide EPP apprenticeship administrator for districts to choose to enroll their candidates with.
  • Provide additional endorsements and generate new leadership pathway models. The center will offer numerous options for current educators to pursue a special education (SPED) and English as a second language (ESL) endorsement or credentialed leadership pathway, at no-cost to the candidate or district.


The department will continue to set strategy and vision for the state’s educator priorities, ensuring alignment and cohesion for high-quality programming across Tennessee. Additionally, the department will continue to operate as the sponsor for all Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship programs, reviewing applications and monitoring program quality.

Learn more about the state’s Grow Your Own initiative.

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Category: Headlines