Inaugural Tennessee Grow Your Own Celebration Summit

Category: News

KNOXVILLE – The inaugural Tennessee Grow Your Own Celebration Summit marked a momentous occasion as leaders from eight university education preparation providers (EPPs), the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), and the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center (TNGYOC) united at the Ancient Lore Village in Knoxville to celebrate the expansion of Tennessee’s Registered Teacher Apprenticeship Program (R-TAP).

The summit resonated with positivity as attendees reflected on the remarkable achievements of the program. One attendee summed up the spirit of the event, stating, “The summit was a true celebration from start to finish! Well planned and power-packed! This opportunity gave us a time to stop and reflect on successes and challenges!! Time well spent!”

The event highlighted an impressive 114% increase in district partners, with 73 out of 148 Tennessee’s school districts approved to provide GYO pathways. This widespread engagement underscores the program’s broad reach and impact across the state. The success story continued with a noteworthy 91% retention rate among apprentices statewide, reflecting the commitment and dedication of aspiring educators in Tennessee.

With 11 colleges and university partners actively engaged, Tennessee has become a standout hub for teacher apprenticeship, hosting an impressive 28% of the nation’s teacher apprentices, totaling 599 out of 2,177. This noteworthy achievement firmly establishes the state as a leader in nurturing and cultivating the next generation of educators.

One EPP leader aptly captured the essence of this groundbreaking work, stating, “Grow Your Own is changing the way the state of Tennessee addresses the teacher shortage by removing barriers and providing minimal cost teacher licensure. It is so exciting to be on the forefront of this movement.”

The collaborative spirit of the summit was evident in the team-building activities orchestrated by Jeff Stiles, Leadership Programs Manager at the Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership. These activities successfully united the participating EPPs, emphasizing the essential joint efforts required to tackle Tennessee’s teacher shortage. Through this united front, these institutions are actively collaborating to empower and support the next generation of educators.

Cheryl Fogler, planning coordinator with the University of Tennessee System, provided a comprehensive briefing on the progress of the TNGYOC strategic planning. TNGYOC Executive Director Erin Crisp and Associate Director Kate Hall led participants as they delved into the qualitative insights from active apprentices and quantitative data from the TDOE biannual GYO report. This insightful review aimed to identify strengths and opportunities for growth, ensuring that the program continues to evolve and serve the needs of working learners aspiring to become educators.

In essence, the Tennessee Grow Your Own Celebration Summit was a resounding success, encapsulating the spirit of collaboration, achievement and dedication in addressing the challenges of teacher shortage in Tennessee. As the state pioneers innovative solutions, the future looks brighter than ever for the aspiring educators and the communities they are destined to impact.

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