Tennessee combats teacher shortages with free apprenticeship programs

Linda D. Garrow

Tennessee is trying to make it easier — and cheaper — to become a teacher.

In an effort to combat ongoing teacher shortages — only made worse by the pandemic — and the cost barriers to pursuing postsecondary education, Tennessee has partnered with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor to establish teacher apprenticeship programs across the state.

The first such program has already been approved. The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and Austin Peay State University’s Teacher Residency program became the first registered apprenticeship program for teaching in the country.

Fourth grade English Language Arts teacher Kellie Marks leads her classroom full of students on the first day of school at Napier Elementary School, part of Metro Nashville Public Schools, in Nashville, Tenn. on Aug. 10, 2021.

The model, referred to as “Grow Your Own,” builds off the proven success of residency programs in other fields, such as training programs for welders, advanced manufacturers and even doctors and healthcare workers.

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