By Elaine Thomas


At the Howard Baker Center, the seeds for growing the numbers of those in the education profession were planted on Monday.


KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwann, Dean of the UTK College of Education, Health and Human Sciences Ellen McIntyre, and Interim UT System President Randy Boyd announced the partnership which will launch in the fall of 2020.


Knox County Schools will hire 10-15 current UT students as paraprofessionals for their internship year. Referred to as Aspiring Teacher Cohorts, these students will receive a salary, healthcare, and earn years toward retirement. Pending the completion of their degree, earning appropriate licensure, and good standing as a paraprofessional, Knox County will offer positions as teachers of record as well as signing bonuses for the 2020-2021 school year.


In 1975, approximately 22% of the degrees from UT were in the education program. Currently that has declined to 10%. This initiative and the state making $1 million dollars available for teachers across the state to earn a special education endorsement are designed to cultivate more budding professionals.