Grow Your Own Teacher Apprenticeship Opportunities Continue to Strengthen Tennessee’s Educator Pipeline

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 | 11:00am


200+ Candidates in Pipeline, Two Additional EPPs Approved
to Offer Teacher Apprenticeships 

Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced additional registered teacher occupation programs are now available for aspiring educators through Tennessee’s Grow Your Own (GYO) initiative—immediately expanding opportunity to train future teachers and strengthening the teacher pipeline in Tennessee.

To further strengthen the state’s educator pipeline, two additional educator preparation providers (EPPs) – the University of Memphis and Arete Memphis Public Montessori - have been approved to offer teacher apprenticeships, bringing additional educator talent to the state to increase high-quality academic opportunities for Tennessee students. Read more on the state’s newly approved models in an overview here, with additional Grow Your Own resources recently added to the state’s page here

“Educators statewide work hard to advance students’ academic outcomes and ensure future readiness, inspiring their growth and achievement every day,” said Commissioner Schwinn. “Continuing to add Teacher Apprenticeship models across the state helps us continue to strengthen and sustain the state’s educator pipeline through expansions of these trusted programs for educators.” 
In addition to the previously approved 7 EPP programs, Tennessee now has 9 total approved EPP programs, offering registered teacher apprenticeships to 30+ districts and serving 200+ candidates. This builds on the nearly 650 candidates served through the initial 65 district/EPP partnerships that started in 2020. These two new models will bring additional opportunities and innovative programs. 

  • University of Memphis now offers a bachelor's teacher apprenticeship pathway 
  • Arete Memphis Public Montessori now offers a licensure-only pathway

"The GYO Program will positively impact the apprentices who participate as well as our district partners,” said Dr. Nichelle Robinson, Director of Teacher Education and Clinical Practice, University of Memphis. “Each cohort of apprentices will build bonds with each other and our UofM College of Education faculty as they receive the supports needed to become teachers who will positively impact student learning. We will see the teacher pipeline grow over time as apprentices return to their community as highly effective classroom teachers familiar with their districts and the students those districts serve."

“At-risk students in Tennessee need access to more quality teachers to help them flourish,” said Bob Nardo, Executive Director, Arete Memphis Montessori Residency. “The GYO Apprenticeship makes high quality, on the job teacher formation more affordable and accessible for promising candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. GYO will be instrumental as we double the diversity and triple the number of educators prepared to provide a rich and rigorous public Montessori education.”

Tennessee was the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to have Teacher Apprenticeship programs between school districts and EPPs, and Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship models 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 set a new path for the educator profession and for Tennessee to be the top state in which to become and remain a teacher and leader.

“To identify talented teachers, school districts must be innovative in their approach to recruiting and hiring,” said Dr. Jon Rysewyk, Director of Schools, Knox County Schools. “The Grow Your Own program has been instrumental in helping educational assistants and other professionals from Knox County take the next step toward full certification, and it has been a game-changer for Knox County Schools as we seek to provide great educators in every school.”

“Our district is grateful for the opportunity to have the Grow Your Own Teacher Apprenticeship program," said Michael Davis, Director of Schools, Hardin County Schools. "This program expands opportunities for our students and encourages them to pursue an impactful career in teaching, where they will strengthen the success of our community in the future. Hardin County is very grateful for this new teacher apprenticeship program and excited for our future teachers!"

"The Grow Your Own Teacher Apprentice Program has allowed us to fill teaching positions with people we who already know our students, have relationships established with our stakeholders and understand our culture and expectations," said Timothy Watkins, Director of Schools, Obion County Schools. 

“The Grow Your Own program in Hamilton County Schools has become a valuable resource for our district. Not only do we have existing employees joining the program, but we are also seeing applicants come to the district as classified employees for the opportunity that the program provides them,” said Dr. Justin Robertson, Director of Schools, Hamilton County Schools. “It has been pivotal in helping us fill high-needs positions, like those in special education and math. With the success we have had to this point, we only expect our program to grow and become a bigger part of our staffing efforts in the years ahead.”

Through a strong partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), the department is excited to celebrate the Grow Your Own initiative with a special event at the end of February, to ensure commitment that year after year, the state will continue to invest in high-quality, no-cost opportunities for Tennesseans to earn a degree and teacher’s license for free, while getting paid to do so. 

In addition, to continuing to strengthen and sustain the educator profession, the department has strategically focused efforts on launching the Tennessee Teacher Retention Listening Tour, to hear directly from educators about their lived experiences in the classroom and is offering an opportunity to Tennessee teachers to contribute their input related to best practices or approaches to boost teacher retention across the state.

For programmatic inquiries, contact For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact