Teacher Deanna Jump makes one million dollars selling school lesson plans

(CNN) - If you want to get rich, let's just say teaching is not the career.

Make that wasn't the career.

Deanna Jump is turning such thinking upside-down. A couple of weeks ago it became official for the first-grade teacher from central Georgia: She's a millionaire, and teaching got her there.

Her specialty is kindergarten and for most of her 17 years at the head of the class, she and her husband, also a teacher, struggled to pay the bills.

I dropped in on her class of 14 students at Central Fellowship Christian Academy the other day and it's hard not to get caught up in her excitement, both for teaching and success. Like a lot of teachers I know, she's good, with a natural ability to enthuse her students about learning. She had them singing about spider anatomy. Her classroom is filled with colorful, cute displays and messages that she created to teach concepts that could be tough for anyone. For example, on the back wall, three construction paper trees stood out with red and yellow apples, each with a worm. She uses them to teach data analysis.

The goal is to make learning fun, she says. And she says every teacher does something like that.

Life changed three years ago when another teacher told Jump her stuff was so good she should share it on TeachersPayTeachers.com. The friend sent her a link, which Jump admitted just sat in her email in box for weeks. Then she tried it - and became rich.

TeachersPayTeachers was started by Paul Edelman in 2006. As a former teacher, Edelman knew that teachers were often stretched by long hours and limited budgets, not to mention pressure to improve learning performance. They often shared ideas and teaching strategies.

Then the light bulb went off: Why not let them make money sharing their ideas?

So now, thanks to his website, teachers can post their original material and lessons online and for about for about $5 to $9, other teachers can download and use the materials. The lessons often cover about two weeks of learning on any number of subjects.

Edelman says most teachers are paying out of their own pockets. Although $9 might not sound like a way to get rich, it can be based on the sheer number of potential buyers. Jump has more than 60 units on the site and to date says she has sold about 161,000 of them.

She is the site's best seller, by far, but not the only teacher making money. Edelman says there are 1.1 million registered users on the site and total teacher earnings to date are more than $14 million.

Jump says the money hasn't changed her life - they live in the same house and she drives a Kia. But it has allowed her to transform the lives of others, including her quadriplegic brother, for whom she was able to buy a special van for him to drive. She no longer worries about her bills.

She has faced some criticism. Some say she is using school provided material; she says she created all of her lessons. She does admit she tests every one of them on her own students and puts only the ones that work on the web. Other critics just seem to believe teachers shouldn't get rich.

Jump says selling lessons is her second job. She will spend five hours or more after school updating her lessons, loading new ones and answering teacher questions. Her favorite one is "How can I do what you have done?" She's only too glad to share, especially in these times of school systems cutting teacher budgets and salaries.


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