About Us

Our History

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.

Who we currently serve

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.

Prof Teach tech lab


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.

Board Members

Prof Teach Dave Keim

Dave Keim

Chair Director, Communications
Oak Ridge National Lab

Prof Teach Amy Nolan

Amy Nolan

Secretary Vice President of Regional Enhancement
Knoxville Chamber

Prof Teach Gordon Fee

Gordon Fee

Retired President
Lockhead Martin Energy Systems

Prof Teach Betty Sue Sparks

Betty Sue Sparks

Retired Director of Human Resources
Knox County Schools

Prof Teach Cheryl Hickman

Cheryl Hickman

Retired Director of Secondary Education
Knox County Schools

Additional Board Members not pictured:

Harry Brooks
Retired State Representative for Tennessee

Mary Ann Stackhouse
Lewis, Thomason, King, Krieg & Waldrop, P.C.

Derwin Hagood
Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations
Knoxville Utility Board

Danny Trent
Director of Secondary Education
Knox County Schools

Ready to make an impact? Let’s get in touch.