The state of Tennessee is making it financially easier to become a teacher, through a “Grow Your Own” program that allows people to continue working in schools while earning a free college education as featured in this Daily Times article. Last month the state awarded $2 million in competitive grants to seven university teacher education programs that are working with 35 school districts, including Blount County, Maryville and Alcoa. Through the program, for example, people can continue working as instructional assistants in local schools while their college costs are covered by the program. The Grow Your Own program covers not only the full tuition but also fees, books and the required tests to become a licensed teacher. “When we say free, we mean free,” said David Cihak, a special education professor, associate dean and director of the Bailey Graduate School of Education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.