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UT students teach Pond Gap Elementary students on Science Saturdays. Photo by Shawn Poynter.

A new program aimed at increasing the number of licensed teachers from diverse backgrounds will launch this summer in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

The program, Increasing Teacher Equity to Address Community High Needs (I-TEACH), is funded by a Tennessee Higher Education Commission grant recently awarded to the college to support diversity in education and to fill critical teaching shortages across the state. The two-year program supports 12 eligible teacher candidates for 33 hours of coursework and clinical practice. Candidates who complete the program will graduate with a master’s degree in teacher education.

“UT is committed to diversity and teacher education. We’re committed to the children of Tennessee, and as a land-grant university that is one of our major charges and goals,” said David Cihak, interim associate dean of the college. “This program is a step forward in addressing the issues affecting public education in our state.”

Each candidate selected for the program will be assigned two mentor teachers at a partnering school as well as a designated UT advisor, faculty member, and supervisor. Partnering school districts include Knox County Schools, Anderson County Schools, Maryville City Schools, Blount County Schools, Lenoir City Schools, and Alcoa City Schools.

“Teachers in the program will be trained and guided by our faculty to provide highly effective instruction to K–12 students, ensuring Tennessee students receive the best education possible from teachers who are there to represent and serve them,” Cihak said.

A statewide shortage of teachers in high-demand subject areas, such as English as a Second Language, math, science, special education, and Spanish, coupled with a lack of diversity among the state’s teacher pool were identified as challenges in the Tennessee Department of Education’s most recent Educator Preparation Report Card.

In February, UT was rated top among Tennessee institutions for preparing teachers to work in the state for the second year. It is the only public university in Tennessee to receive a tier-four rating and one of only eight teacher preparation programs to land in the state’s top overall performance category. Annually, UT prepares approximately 200 teachers through the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Media coverage: Associated Press: UT-Knoxville Program Aims to Promote Diversity in Teaching (Ran in numerous outlets, including WRCB, Nashville Ledger, Houston Chronicle)


Brian Canever (865-974-0937,

Jules Morris (865-719-7072,