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College of Education receives $200,000 in grants to help remove barriers to teaching profession

Lipscomb's College of Education is leading the way in preparing educators to make an impact in Tennessee

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Female teacher sitting at table with elementary school students

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced this week that Lipscomb University’s College of Education was one of seven Educator Preparation Programs to be awarded Grow Your Own competitive grants to form or expand state-recognized Grow Your Own Partnerships to increase access and remove barriers to the teaching profession. 

The Grow Your Own Competitive Grant funds partnerships between Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. Grow Your Own (GYO) competitive grants are $100,000 each, with the TDOE awarding a total of $2 million in funds. 

This $2 million grant opportunity removes barriers to the teaching profession by providing funds to entirely cover tuition, textbooks, and fees for all selected participants. In addition, GYO partnerships will increase the number of qualified teachers with high-demand licensures by providing participants with a no-cost education resulting in dual licensure OR initial licensure with additional endorsement to include grade or subject certification and special education or English Language Learners (ELL) certification.   

Lipscomb University’s College of Education has been awarded two $100,000 grants to expand its existing Grow Your Own partnership with Tennessee’s Clarksville Montgomery County School District (CMCSD). Lipscomb was one of the first two institutions selected by TDOE to participate in this initiative in October 2019. 

Dr. Vanessa Garcia head shot

Dr. Vanessa Garcia

These grants allow Lipscomb to expand on its current partnership of 22 teacher candidates to provide an additional  24 teacher assistants the opportunity to receive their teaching license and master's degree. A total of 46 teacher assistants in CMCSD will be earning their K-5 teaching license with an endorsement in special education and their master's degree. 

“We are thankful for the investment that the Tennessee State Department of Education and CMCSD are placing on our future classroom educators,” said Dr. Vanessa Garcia, director of the Instructional Practice Program and assistant professor of education in Lipscomb’s College of Education. “This is not only an investment in these future educators but also in the lives of generations of future students.”

Dr. Deborah Boyd, dean of the Lipscomb College of Education, noted the value of partnerships between teacher prep programs and school districts. 

“When we work closely with districts, we are in a better position to help grow teachers specifically in needed licensure areas,” said Boyd. “In all of our Grow Your Own work, the shared experiences in schools and classrooms gives us invaluable knowledge and insights to improve our teacher prep program overall.” 

TDOE’s Grow Your Own initiative seeks to increase access to and success in the teaching profession as part of the Best for All strategic plan, which sets a vision for Tennessee to be the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader. In addition to Lipscomb, other universities awarded grants include Austin Peay State University, Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga and University of Tennessee Knoxville.
These competitive grant awards build upon ongoing Grow Your Own partnerships at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Austin Peay State University, and Lipscomb University. 

"We are thrilled with the response from our educator preparation programs,” said Penny Schwinn, Tennessee commissioner of education. “Thanks to their innovative plans, the Grow Your Own initiative will expand across the state and support hundreds of individuals to become teachers for free—while employed in our Tennessee school districts. Right now, it could not be more important to remove barriers to the teaching profession and I am proud of the way our state is coming together to continue preparing great teachers in innovative ways.” 

EPPs applied for the competitive grant by submitting plans for partnerships with at least one district, although many applications involved more than one. EPPs could also submit more than one application. Based on these awards, there will be Grow Your Own partnerships with the 35 Tennessee districts, enabling 262 individuals to become a teacher for free and get paid to do so.

This is the latest recognition for Lipscomb’s College of Education. Earlier this year, for the ninth consecutive year the college was among the top-rated teacher preparation programs on the 2019 Educator Preparation Report Card, compiled by the Tennessee State Board of Education.

Since 2013, the National Council for Teacher Quality has consistently ranked Lipscomb’s College of Education programs among the top 25 in the nation, ranking them as high as No. 1 nationally in 2014. Lipscomb's undergraduate secondary teacher preparation program is among the 120 programs in the NCTQ book Start Here to Become a Teacher, and the organization gave Lipscomb one A+ and three A grades in various teacher preparation categories.

In 2015, the College of Education was ranked the No. 15 best value in the nation and among the 35 "Top Colleges for Content Preparation" in the nation by NCTQ. The College of Education was named the 2016 Model of Excellence in Partnerships by the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education among numerous other state and national honors in recent years. 

Learn more about Lipscomb’s College of Education