Tennessee’s Teacher Shortage Addressed With Second Round Of Grants

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Published April 12, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

The Tennessee Department of Education has announced a second round to the Grow Your Own Grants in an effort to help future educators across the state. This next round consists of $2 million for Educator Preparation Programs. Any EPP in Tennessee is able to apply before the May 7 deadline.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Grow Your Own was created to urge more partnerships between educator programs and Local Education Agencies to help increase access for future teachers. The initiative provides pathways into the teaching profession and increases enrollment in EPPs.

TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn, said in the announcement, “The department’s Grow Your Own program helps to develop strong local partnerships that ensure Tennessee’s future teachers have streamlined, no-cost pathways to becoming a professional educator in the classroom, and that children across the state— regardless of where they live, what grade they’re in or what subject area they’re studying— have highly-qualified teachers that represent them and their communities. This program puts the needs of our students first, and we’re thrilled to offer a second round of grants.”

The initiative was created to address the teacher shortage in Tennessee, and create a diverse range of future educators in the classroom. The second round, much like the first, will give $100,000 in funding to 20 EPPs in the state.

Republican Representative Gary Hicks, from Rogersville, said, “The Grow Your Own program has been incredibly successful in our community. I appreciate the Department of Education’s partnership in helping us implement our programs, and I am excited that other communities will now benefit from the resources provided. They will not only support more Tennessee teachers but also solidify the academic foundations of our students.”

“Hawkins County Schools has benefited tremendously from this unique opportunity,” said Director Matt Hixson. “The Grow Your Own initiative has allowed us to demonstrate an investment in our own staff, allowing them to pursue higher degrees and direct teaching positions, especially in special education, to open doors in the teaching field that would have not been available otherwise. We have already seen the impacts this has had through the additional learning opportunities and the advancement of career opportunities within our school system.”

Lincoln Memorial University has used the initiative to create various partnerships in the community. These will allow education assistants who already have a Bachelor’s to receive a Master’s of Education. They will be able to do this while getting initial licensure in elementary or secondary education, visual arts, or physical education, as well as endorsement in Special Education.

Austin Peay State University and Lipscomb University have created a partnership with Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools to increase the number of education assistants and high school seniors entering their Grow Your Own programs.

Dr. Prentice Chandler, the dean of the College of Education at Austin Peay, said, “We are grateful for the department’s continued investment in the Grow Your Own initiative to boost the teacher pipeline in Tennessee through educator preparation programs. APSU is proud to have been an initial partner in this work to help provide additional opportunities and pathways for local teacher candidates to join the teaching profession in our state.”

Preference for round two funding will be given to EPPs that did not receive any during round one.

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