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Erin Crisp Named Executive Director of UT’s Tennessee Grow Your Own Center

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Erin Crisp

KNOXVILLE, TN – The University of Tennessee System has announced Erin Crisp, a veteran educator, as its first executive director of the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center. Crisp will begin her role with the UT System on Oct. 10.

High resolution photo of Erin Crisp
Erin Crisp

Crisp will lead the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, an initiative of the University of Tennessee System and Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), which was established this year through a $20 million grant from the state. The center will serve as a model for leading educator preparation providers in the state. Collaborating with the UT System’s four undergraduate institutions (UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin, and UT Southern) and TDOE, Crisp will direct the center as it supports greater statewide access and opportunity for future educators to pursue innovative workforce pathway opportunities through registered teacher apprenticeships.

Grow Your Own programs are built from partnerships between school districts and Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) statewide, alleviating the financial challenges of becoming a teacher, ensuring high-quality preparation, and building community representation in local educator workforces.

Tennessee is the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs between school districts and EPPs. As part of the state’s Grow Your Initiative, Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship models align leading practices in teacher preparation and development with the rigors of the national registered apprenticeship process.

“One way we can build the greatest decade in UT history is to help ensure we continue to have amazing teachers in our pre-K-12 classrooms across the state,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “Erin’s leadership of the Grow Your Own Center will be a difference-maker as we address this grand challenge of recruiting and retaining qualified and caring teachers in our schools.”

“Tennessee continues to lead the nation through innovative Grow Your Own models and initiatives,” Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. “We are thrilled to welcome Erin in our partnership with the University of Tennessee System to bring opportunities statewide, ultimately strengthening our state’s educator pipeline to ensure every student has access to a high-quality teacher and education.”

Crisp brings an expansive background in education to her new role. A veteran educator, she spent the first decade of her career as a middle and high school language arts teacher before transitioning to higher education in graduate school. Crisp held various directorship roles at Indiana Wesleyan University before serving as the university’s associate vice president of innovation. Most recently, Crisp served as the chief academic officer for educational technology startup CampusEdu.

“We are thrilled to have Erin join our team,” said Bernie Savarese, who serves as the UT System vice president of academic affairs and student success. “Her insight as a teacher and administrator, as well as private sector educational experience, will be invaluable as we work to expand the impact of the Grow Your Own Center.”

The University of Tennessee is a statewide system of higher education with campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin, Memphis and Pulaski; the UT Institute of Agriculture with a presence in every Tennessee county; and the statewide Institute for Public Service. The UT System manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory through its UT-Battelle partnership; enrolls about 54,000 students statewide; produces about 13,000 new graduates every year; and represents more than 433,000 alumni around the world.

Further information on the Grow Your Own Center, available programs, job opportunities and district supports can be found at


Melissa Tindell
505 Summer Place, UT Tower, Knoxville, TN 37902

Natalie Keener
505 Summer Place, UT Tower, Knoxville, TN 37902

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Category: Employees