Formerly the director of human resources for Knox County Schools, Betty Sue Sparks has witnessed the impact of teacher shortages at the local, state, and national levels. The reality is: many schools, in Tennessee and beyond, are struggling to fill specialized, short-term teaching positions.
In 2005, Sparks — along with like-minded representatives from the Public School Forum of East Tennessee, the Knox County School System, and Pro2Serve Professional Project Services, Inc. of Oak Ridge — established the Distinguished Professionals Education Institute (DPEI), a non-profit corporation designed to recruit and train subject matter experts to teach courses in critical shortage areas in Tennessee’s secondary school classrooms.
Inspired by a proven, private industry business model, our organization was designed to serve the public through educational and charitable programs that encourage every Tennessee high school student to reach their full potential.
In May 2019, DPEI officially changed its name to Professionals Teach to better reflect the organization’s mission and collaborative approach.
Professionals Teach partners with secondary schools across the state of Tennessee to address teacher shortages and unmet course needs. Currently, our professionals are helping students learn to play guitar, write code, and speak foreign languages, among other skills.
Two Nashville Metro high schools have employed our approach to enrich their art instruction and give their students the experience of learning in a studio from real-world artists. Knox County Schools, the state’s third largest school system, enhances its core curriculum by using our educators to teach foreign languages, science, and mathematics.
Professionals Teach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The executive director is carefully selected by our board of directors. Each county with we work is assigned a director to recruit qualified professionals and support them through our seamless onboarding process. Additionally, we employ instructional coaches to provide one-on-one coaching and guidance through the online pre-service training program. Professionals Teach manages the adjunct licensure process for the school system.
Our organization is fully insured and our professionals work under contract with the school. The school system and principal must approve each professional before they can start teaching. Special hiring requirements, such as drug screens or other background checks, are completed as the school system determines.
Retired State Representative for Tennessee
Mary Ann Stackhouse
Lewis, Thomason, King, Krieg & Waldrop, P.C.
Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations
Knoxville Utility Board
Director of Secondary Education
Knox County Schools
Ready to make an impact? Let’s get in touch.