TDOE Releases New Resources on ‘Grow Your Own’ Educator Initiative

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 | 11:30am


State Educator Initiative Generates National Recognition

Nashville, TN— Throughout the month of May, the Tennessee Department of Education has celebrated the state’s Grow Your Own (GYO) initiative by spotlighting the innovative educator preparation pathways available to help build and strengthen the teacher talent pipeline in Tennessee. New resources released today include a new GYO webpage, one-pagers and explainer videos to support anyone interested in participating in a GYO initiative.

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

As a part of the department’s Best for All strategic plan, the Grow Your Own initiative aims to provide all Tennessee students with access to a high-quality education and an effective teacher to support learning in every classroom.

"Tennessee’s Grow Your Own work is a game-changer – and a lasting one, for educators, students, and our nation,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This investment in quality of programming will pay-off for years and ultimately ensure a permanent, sustainable source of effective teachers that our students need and deserve. We hope this webpage serves as a resource for other states to replicate this work and build up our nation’s teacher talent pipeline to ensure every child, in every classroom, has an excellent educator they most need – and deserve.”

The GYO webpage is designed to support teacher candidates seeking more information on pathways to enter the classroom. This initial version allows candidates to find high-level information and key resources designed to support their program inquiries and selection. 

Additionally, the department released additional resources specific to various stakeholder groups. The newly available one-pagers and videos are designed to support stronger understanding and engagement with GYO strategic work, including the Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship model. 

Tennessee Grow Your Own Initiative One-Pagers

Tennessee Grow Your Own Initiative Videos

To date, Tennessee has collaborated with 20+ states on their conception of new programs and pathways. Additionally, the state has received coverage of 30+ articles spanning local, regional, and national outlets to highlight the model, innovations in educator preparation development, and opportunities for future programmatic considerations. Further, Tennessee leaders have joined several national discussions and panels to share the state’s learning, implementation, and strategic work.

To drive greater impact, the department and the University of Tennessee System recently 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.

“Becoming a registered apprenticeship with the labor department — which requires programs to meet specific quality standards — puts Tennessee’s program in position to receive funding that would cover both pay and the cost of education for participants, removing a barrier that often keeps lower-income and non-white candidates from pursuing teaching.” - The 74

“This GYO model brings training to the community, which means folks don’t have to leave their community to get a degree or it makes it easier for rural communities to actually have people that are already living there to grow into the profession,” shared Patricia Levesque, CEO, ExcelinEd, during a deep-dive discussion on “Grow Your Own: Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship, a National Model,” linked here.

“As the nation deals with severe teacher shortages, Tennessee may just have a solution to offer. The state has put in place a teacher residency program where candidates are able to work full-time in the classroom while pursuing their degree.” -CBS News

“Shoutout to Tennessee for everything they have done to get us to think new with registered apprenticeship in this space, it took a lot of innovation, even within government in order to stay true to our systems,” said Andy Ridgeway, Division Director at U.S. Department of Labor, during national webinar, “Scaling the Teacher Pipeline and Career Pathways through Registered Apprenticeships,” available here.

“Tennessee’s innovative approach allows future teachers to work with students in a classroom, receive coaching from experienced mentor teachers and be paid along the way. The program is designed to allow the future teachers to obtain a bachelor’s degree in three years, debt-free, while being paid, and enter the teaching profession with at least three years’ classroom experience under their belt. All of which is paid for by leveraging federal funding for apprenticeships.” - Jeb Bush, Founder and President of ExcelinEd, Miami Herald

“Residency apprenticeships help states meet their education goals. Residency prepared teachers stay employed in their schools and districts at much higher rates than graduates from other clinical practice models,” said Dr. Karen DeMoss, Executive Director of Prepared to Teach, Education Commission of the States’ webinar, available here. 

“The Tennessee Grow Your Own Center hopes to recruit and train new teachers, better equip existing teachers and serve as a the "one-stop-shop" for all program and technical support for new and existing Grow Your Own apprenticeships.” -Knoxville News Sentinel

Many helpful resources for state and district leaders, education stakeholders and community members to create partnerships and get involved are available here.

Learn more about the state’s Grow Your Own initiative here. For programmatic inquiries, contact For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact