TDOE Awards $1M in Grants to Support Additional Endorsements for Tennessee Educators

Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 03:27pm


Grants Assist Districts in Filling Educator Vacancies and Building Capacity of Teachers in ESL, Secondary Math, and Special Education


Nashville, TN- Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the award of $1 million in grant funding to support students and school districts by providing current Tennessee educators free access to earn an additional teaching endorsement in each of the following areas: English as a Second Language (ESL), Special Education (SPED), and Secondary Mathematics (Secondary Math). These grants will help address shortages of teachers with the needed endorsements to effectively serve all students.

Six additional endorsement grants, totaling $1 million, have been awarded to Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) to deliver courses in a virtual environment. With over 450 seats available across six EPPs, each district will be able to select one teacher per additional endorsement offered—providing up to three teachers per district with a free endorsement in one of these areas. 

“In education, ensuring all students have access to great teachers is one of the most important things we can do, and this funding will help build teacher capacity across the state by providing a no-cost pathway for current teachers to earn additional endorsements,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Educators who are nominated by their district to earn one of these endorsements for free will gain new tools, knowledge and skills to help them grow in their practice and to better support our students.”

Educator Preparation Programs at the following universities have been awarded a competitive Additional Endorsement Grant to provide teachers with coursework and preparation in a virtual environment over the next 12 months: 

Endorsements for Special Education

EPP Partners Areas Covered
Tennessee State University

Special Education Interventionist 6-12

Special Education Interventionist K-8

Provisional Special Education Interventionist 6-12

Provisional Special Education Interventionist K-8


University of Tennessee - Martin

Endorsements for English as a Second Language

EPP Partners Areas Covered
Freed-Hardeman University

English as a Second Language Pre-K - 12


University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

Endorsements for Secondary Math

EPP Partners Areas Covered
East Tennessee State University

Mathematics 6-10

Mathematics 6-12


University of Tennessee -Knoxville 

Teachers must be nominated by their district to participate in one of the additional endorsement pathways, and districts are asked to nominate a different individual for each endorsement pathway.

In order to nominate teachers from their district to participate in each of these additional endorsement pathways, Directors of Schools or a Designee should complete the primary participant and alternate participation nomination forms below by June 15: 

District, school, and EPP leaders commented on how these funds will help fill critical vacancies and meet essential needs among Tennessee’s teacher population.

“Jackson County Schools is excited and eager to take advantage of the additional endorsement opportunities for our educators,” said Kristy Brown, Director of Schools, Jackson County Schools. “Qualified teachers in the areas of ESL, Special Education, and Secondary Math are more challenging for small, rural districts to recruit and retain. This program will enable our existing teachers to increase their instructional capacity and earn endorsements that will benefit the students in our district.”  

“We are excited to partner with the Tennessee Department of Education to help provide no-cost pathways to teachers across the state for endorsements in 6-12 mathematics,” said East Tennessee State University Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Clemmer College Department Chair Karin Keith. “Helping our state address certification needs to ensure students have licensed, trained staff is critical in helping all our students receive a high-quality education.”

“Getting more teachers endorsements in ESL education is essential for our state as many of our districts are seeing increased enrollment of English language learners,” said Freed-Hardeman University College of Education Director of Literacy and ESL and Assistant Professor of Literacy Suzi Miley. “We are thrilled to have been awarded an Additional Endorsement Grant from the department and to work with school districts on building up the state’s educator workforce.” 

“I am so excited for the many Tennessee educators who will participate in the additional endorsement opportunity,” said Hannah Hopper, ESL Teacher at Fairview-Marguerite Elementary School, Hamblen County Schools. “This amazing partnership allows educators to pursue their passions while strengthening educational opportunities for students.”

Teachers participating in the endorsement program will receive services at no cost for programming or fees, as costs for the program will be funded through the supplemental use of federal ESSER funds. Programming will allow teacher participants to earn their endorsement while completing coursework online. Pending successful completion of coursework and passage of all required licensure assessments, this grant will allow participating educators to earn their endorsement in one of the specified areas before the start of the 2022-23 school year, with some participants earning their additional endorsement as early as Spring 2022.

This is the fifth grant program made available by the department in recent months to support LEAs in serving students with disabilities, building off the Special Education additional endorsement grants for the 2020-21 school year, and the first grant offered by the department that allows teachers to gain an additional ESL or Secondary Math endorsement for free. To read more about last year’s Special Education additional endorsement grants, click here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact