Macaria Hudson cried when she opened the email.
It was a happy cry.
“I saw the email light up on my phone, and I immediately clicked on it. It said, ‘Congratulations’ and that’s all I read before I ran to tell my parents the good news. We were all celebrating and hugging each other,” said Hudson, a graduating senior from Tyner Academy.
She and two other Tyner seniors—Jasmine Jackson and Jekyria Sparks—are the first students chosen for the Grow Your Own program, a collaboration between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Education, Hamilton County Schools and the Tennessee Department of Education. The students have been awarded scholarships to cover their tuition at the University and will pursue degrees in education with the goal of being teachers.
As part of Grow Your Own, UTC is one of seven universities statewide working to increase the number and diversity of teachers in K-12 schools.
Once the students receive their degrees from UTC and earn their teaching licenses, they will be hired by the Hamilton County Schools, which “fuels our talent pipeline,” said Penny Murray, chief talent officer for the school system.
“The Grow Your Own Future Ready Institute and partnership between UTC and Tyner Academy is an innovative way for the district to engage as well as inspire diverse students about the possibility of working as educators,” she said.
To help Tyner students prepare for a teaching career, the UTC Teaching and Learning Institute was created at the academy in 2018.
“Our partnership and commitment to Tyner Academy through the UTC’s Institute of Teaching and Learning created a perfect pathway for students to begin their program to becoming a teacher in Hamilton County Schools,” said Renee Murley, director of the School of Education at UTC.
The three Tyner students will enroll at UTC in fall semester 2021. Each has a different career plan.
Jackson wants to be a school counselor; Sparks wants to be a middle school teacher; Hudson wants to teach students in K-3rd grades.
“I always wanted to work with younger kids. I think it’s a joy,” Hudson said. “They have so much energy, and I feel like I would be able to fit in well with that age group.”