A new scholarship opportunity for students from Scott and Blount counties interested in becoming special education teachers is now available because of a recent anonymous gift of $50,000 to APSU’s College of Education.

This gift will be distributed over the next five years to 10 students working to become special education teachers with the Together Everyone Achieves More, or TEAM, scholarship initiative.

“The goal is to get students licensed so they can be special education teachers,” said Erin Lynch-Alexander, assistant professor of education and grant director.

APSU currently has fewer than 30 students from Scott and Blount counties enrolled. Fourteen students applied for admission from these counties last spring.

According to Lynch-Alexander, APSU is enrolling fewer students from Scott and Blount because they have strong community colleges, and students are opting to take advantage of Tennessee Promise by staying in their home counties and obtaining their associate degree.

This new scholarship will be distributed starting in the spring semester. It is exclusive to students from Scott and Blount counties, and all applicants must meet the admission requirements for APSU’s College of Education.

The TEAM initiative is working on providing scholarships for other students interested in becoming special education teachers from other counties, including Montgomery County.

Lynch-Alexander said the scholarship aims to prepare students to be special educators and the scholarship program is important because it is student focused.

The scholarship also serves as an attempt to meet the needs of students through the provision of financial support.

“It goes to support the recruitment and retention of students from an area of the state from which we have low enrollment numbers,” Lynch-Alexander said. “The scholarship provides recruitment opportunities to a licensure area that is experiencing a national shortage. So three factors make this special program important: it benefits students, our university and ultimately our K-12 special needs population in Tennessee by placing highly qualified and passionate teachers in classrooms.”