RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rutherford County Schools is going the “non-traditional” route to fill teacher openings for the upcoming school year.

It’s through a newly branded initiative called the Teach Now program, which aims to remove obstacles for people who wish to become classroom teachers — immediately — but who don’t yet hold a teaching license. The program has been up and running for the past few years when RCS became the first k-12 school district in Tennessee approved by the Tennessee Department of Education to operate this kind of program. Their retention rate from participants over the past few years is around 80%.

“We get a whole spectrum, we have teachers who are fresh out of college and they got a degree in one thing, but now they want to be teachers, they simply don’t have that teaching background so we can provide that,” said RCS Teach Now Specialist Rebecca Murphy. “We have people who are looking for something to do in their retirement, and maybe they worked for 30 years, in an industry, maybe they were a machine operator, and are coming in and now they want to give their energy and efforts to training the next generation in the industry.”

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Through the program, RCS can hire people who have industry expertise in certain content areas or have a bachelor’s degree, but who don’t yet have a teaching license. They can start teaching classes immediately while simultaneously taking courses offered by the school district to earn their license.

Teach Now participants receive class learning skills from various RCS teacher-leaders (Source: RCS)

“They might come to the table as an expert in math, or Career and Technical Education (CTE), they might come to the table with a bachelor’s degree in another subject, in business, but they want to come teach math or science,” Murphy explained. “So we can put them in the classroom immediately. And they can start teaching, but they have to take that secondary education coursework. And that’s what we provide as an alternative to the to the costly tuition of the universities.”

According to the district, they already have a few candidates enrolled in the Teach Now program for the upcoming school year but they’re looking to add even more — up to 25 for the math/science group and 25 for the CTE group.

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“We are we want people who who are eager to help serve children and serve their community,” said Murphy. “We are looking for people who are willing to learn and be imperfect, but take coaching and learn from trial and error and learn from their mistakes, and be willing to come back the next day.”

Anyone interested can come to an open house tonight at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Rock Springs Middle school in Smyrna. A second session will be held later on July 11th.