Austin Peay State University Offers First Graduate Students In Grow Your Own Teacher Residency Program – Clarksville Online


Clarksville, TN – When he was younger, Malachi Johnson always helped his siblings with their homework. He enjoyed coaching and encouraging them, and his family soon noticed that teaching came naturally in high school.

During his senior year, Johnson toyed with the idea of ​​becoming a teacher, but he was nervous about paying tuition for the next four years.

Then, one afternoon, he heard about an innovative new program between the Eriksson College of Education at Austin Peay State University and the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS).

“My mother-in-law contacted me and asked if I had ever thought about becoming a teacher and told me about the early learning teacher residence,” he said.

In 2019, Austin Peay State University and the school system launched the state’s first education residency program, providing 20 recent high school graduates and 20 CMCSS teaching assistants an accelerated path to become full-time teachers in local schools. The program specifically targeted minority and first-generation students, increasing diversity both within the school system and at Austin Peay State University.

For Johnson, the program provided exactly what he was looking for, and three years later, on August 5, 2022, he earned his Bachelor of Education degree from Austin Peay and began his career as a teacher at the school. Elementary Byrns Darden.

“It’s crazy because on graduation night I go to work for an open house so I can meet my students,” Johnson said. “I’m jumping in and can’t wait.”

Develop your own

On August 5, Johnson joined 40 other members of the first cohort of teachers in residence to graduate from college. Over the past three years, this groundbreaking partnership has been renamed the Grow Your Own Residency Program, and it has proven to be so successful that it has finally been adopted by colleges of education and school districts across the state. .

On January 13, 2022, Tennessee became the first state to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a permanent Grow Your Own model, with the state Department of Education announcing that CMCSS and Eriksson College of Education would offer the first registered apprenticeship education program in the country.

“We are proud of the work we have been able to accomplish with our partners – CMCSS, TDOE and the Department of Labor – in charting a new course for teacher education in the state and nation,” said Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of APSU Eriksson College of Education, said in January.

“We think the narrative around teacher training is misleading; people do want to be teachers in our schools, as our residency programs show. We just need to make it more accessible to everyone. This program is a giant step in that direction. We are honored to be the first in the country to do this groundbreaking work with CMCSS,” said Dr. Chandler.

In 1975, 22% of all students dreamed of becoming teachers. Four decades later, that number has dropped to around 4%, prompting the CBS Evening News to recently call the national teacher shortage an “education crisis.” Chandler and his colleagues at CMCSS knew there were students like Johnson who were interested in becoming teachers, but were hesitant because of the obstacles in front of them.

With the Grow Your Own program, Austin Peay State University and the school system broke down these barriers by covering students’ tuition and hiring them to work as elementary classroom aides with expert teachers. .

“I almost work as an intern with CMCSS,” Johnson said earlier this summer. “I work with students during the day and get paid, then in the evening I do university classes. This program has helped me gain so much knowledge that I would not have known otherwise. I have already established excellent relationships with educators in the local school system, which will allow me to have good contacts.

In the years to come, thanks to Austin Peay State University and the leadership of CMCSS, more students like him will find their way into classrooms across the state and nation. In October 2020, the Tennessee Department of Education began providing grants to local school districts to develop and support the Grow Your Own model.

“Tennessee’s leadership in expanding its ‘Grow Your Own’ program is a model for states across the nation working to address teacher labor shortages and expand the pipeline into the teaching profession. “said US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement. release from the state.

“Especially in the ongoing recovery from the pandemic, this work could not be more urgent or necessary. I am proud that Tennessee is creating a bold solution to cultivate teaching talent with the support of US bailout funds, and I look forward to seeing how this learning program positively impacts teaching and learning across the state,” Cardona said.

The program’s astonishing success even landed Johnson on television, where he spoke on national FOX News about his experience with Austin Peay State University’s Grow Your Own initiative.

“It was an exciting experience,” he said. “They had given me questions to prepare ahead of time, but it’s so different once you’re there on camera with all the lights on you.”

For more information about APSU’s Eriksson College of Education and its Grow Your Own program, visit


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