TDOE Launches “Grow Your Own” Initiative

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | 02:19pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                          CONTACT: Jennifer Johnson

October 15, 2019                                                                                          Office: (615) 532-6260


TDOE Launches “Grow Your Own” Initiative

NASHVILLE— The Tennessee Department of Education, in an effort to support districts in
recruiting and better preparing future teachers, has approved its first “Grow
Your Own” partnership. 

Commissioner Penny Schwinn is committed to identifying best practices in Tennessee’s
districts and creating the conditions for them to flourish and expand. “If you
want to be an educator, you should be in Tennessee where we now have districts
where you can get paid to become a teacher, graduate debt free and be better
prepared by spending multiple years in a residency under the mentorship of a
great classroom leader,” stated Schwinn. “I look forward to replicating this
innovative “Grow Your Own” model across the state.” 

Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS), in partnership with Austin Peay State University
(APSU), has a cohort of 40 future teachers, who will earn a free bachelor’s
degree in only three years, become dual certified in a critical shortage area
plus special education, and participate in a multi-year residency experience
while being a full-time employed paraprofessional, earning a salary, health
insurance and retirement contributions. 

In addition, CMCSS plans to partner with Lipscomb University to offer up to 20
future teachers a licensure program that includes a one-year full-time paid
residency and dual certification (K-5 and special education) at no cost to the
teacher. Through this initiative, these future teachers will also earn a
master’s degree in this partnership between Lipscomb and CMCSS. 

“Tennessee’s Department of Education, under Commissioner Schwinn, is creating the conditions
necessary for our district to thrive,” said Millard L. House II, CMCSS Director
of Schools. “We are grateful for our partnerships with Austin Peay State
University and Lipscomb University to create future Clarksville-Montgomery
County teachers from our very own backyard.” 

The TDOE’s approval of a waiver will result in over $2 million being re-allocated
to support CMCSS’s “Grow Your Own” partnership. 

“I am grateful to Austin Peay’s Provost and President who were willing to do whatever
it takes to establish an innovative, high-quality program for this partnership
while ensuring there was no cost to the students. Not only does this program
make sense, but it is about doing the right thing,” said Dr. Prentice Chandler,
Dean of the Eriksson College of Education for Austin Peay State University. 

Within this model, both a public and a private university agreed to build partnerships
with CMCSS so that there is no cost for the future teachers to participate. 

CMCSS Chief Academic Officer Sean Impeartrice stated, “It is nice to have leadership in
place that listens to districts. This has been an idea we had for over three
years. Finally, it is a reality. This is the future of teacher recruitment and
preparation. I can’t wait until we have our first graduates from this program,
teaching in their communities and fulfilling the calling of the best profession
that ever was, teaching.” 

TDOE will be hosting a “Grow Your Own” summit on Monday, November 4 for
superintendents to share additional information and provide technical
assistance for districts to build their own partnerships and models. 

“My job is to support and serve districts. The only way I can do that is by seeking
input, listening and building relationships, as was the case when CMCSS first
contacted me about this initiative. I am grateful for the leadership of
Commissioner Schwinn, Director House, Dean Chandler, Dean Boyd and multiple
other stakeholders to find a way to get better-prepared teachers for our
students, and to replicate best practices statewide.” stated David Donaldson,
TDOE Assistant Commissioner of Human Capital.  

For any follow-up “Grow Your Own” questions, please contact David Donaldson at For any media questions, please contact Jennifer
Johnson, director of communications, at