RCS Educator Preparation Provider Program Offers Pathway to Licensure for New Teachers


Rutherford County Schools

Emily Harris may be a new Biology teacher at Blackman High School, but thanks  to Rutherford County Schools’ Educator Preparation Provider program, Harris is very prepared to excel in the classroom.

“I’m from Rutherford County. So, I actually went to school at Oakland. My husband works here (at Blackman High School) as well,” Harris said.

The RCS Educator Preparation Provider program is not new and has been in place about three years, but the school district is still working to get the word out about the program.

RCS is the first K-12 institution to be approved by the Tennessee Department of Education to serve as an “Educator Preparation Provider,” which allows the district to bring in industry professionals and provide them with the course work to earn a full teaching license. 

“I did not think I would be a teacher,” Harris explained. “My degree is in biology with a minor in psychology. I graduated college and my husband became a teacher pretty quickly. He was a realtor, and I was working out of sports medicine. He was just talking to me about teaching, and I thought it was something I might be interested in.”

For Harris and her husband, the EPP program provided the support they needed as new teachers and helped them fast track their teaching license in a non-traditional way.

“It’s helpful. It’s so practical. I think I’ve used everything I’ve learned. The instructor is amazing. The cohort is great. We all have a really good relationship and have really great discussions. We have class about once a month in the evening,” Harris said.

The EPP program does just as its acronym says – provides teachers with the necessary skills to get ready for the classroom. After an initial summer induction, teachers are sent into the classroom but are still given plenty of support and monthly classes.

“Our instructor will lead us through lessons about how to make things more engaging – and ideas on how to gather data. Also, just useful things in the classroom,” Harris said, “like the beginning of the year, which is really helpful.”

These lessons provide Harris and other new teachers a starting point for something they may not have had a lot of experience with. But even through the challenges – Harris still recommends new teachers go for it if they are interested.

“I love having an opportunity to develop a relationship with these kids. If you are considering being a teacher and have no experience, then the program that RCS offers is a great way to get started.”

If you want to hear more from Harris about her first year as a teacher, and her experience in the EPP program, you can view her video interview HERE.

If you are interested in becoming a teacher with RCS, or want more information about the EPP program, please reach out to Rebecca Murphy at [email protected]. The program is currently for those wanting to teach Career and Technical Education, secondary math, biology, chemistry, environmental science and physics teachers.

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