KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Education and the University of Tennessee System announced the launch of the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, a $20-million investment into the next generation of educators from the Volunteer State.

This center is a $20 million investment aiming to tackle educator shortages, prepare the next generation of Tennessee teachers and to generate additional leadership opportunities. The state’s Grow Your Own initiative builds on the state’s 65 existing programs which offer free opportunities to become a teacher, including one between Knox County Schools and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The Tennessee Grow Your Own Center will include functions such as:

  • Development and recruitment of candidates
  • Lead technical assistance hub for Teacher Apprenticeship models
  • Provide additional endorsements and generate new leadership pathway models

“With four educator preparation programs located across the state in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Pulaski, and UT’s presence in all 95 counties through the UT Institute of Agriculture, we are truly able to reach every corner of the state to support student achievement, train high-quality teachers, and engage every school district,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “We value our strong relationship with TDOE, and are thrilled to be working together to better serve Tennessee students.”

The announcement took place Monday at the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s student union. Special guests for the ceremony include Chancellor Donde Plowman, UT System President Randy Boyd and State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

“Tennessee continues to emphasize its commitment to the educator profession and supporting our everyday heroes- our teachers- with the launch of the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center,” said Commissioner Schwinn. “We are thrilled to partner with the University of Tennessee System to bring this opportunity to every corner of the state, to strengthen the state’s educator pipeline and ensure all students have access to a high-quality education.”

Tennessee announced the initiative as part of its’ Grow Your Own Month, highlighting the state’s efforts the strengthen local educator talent pipelines. A press release said Tennessee aims to be the top state in which to become and remain a teacher and leader for all.