September 28th, 2012
08:35 AM ET

Teacher earns a cool million by selling lesson plans

By Martin Savidge, CNN

(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.

Personally,  I kinda like the idea of teachers making investment banker salaries. On average, they spend 15,000 hours with kids taking them from kindergarten through 12th grade. With that much influence, I want teachers to be good and happy.

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Filed under: Lesson plans • Practice • Teachers • video
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Cole

    I admire her intuition, but I am a bit confused as to her motives. As a teacher isn't it in her own moral philosophy to educate students regardless of pay. I run a blog (studyguidesxhs.blogspot.com) where I put up review guides for various high school courses. They are free of charge because my philosophy is that education should reach everyone. Quality education and quality help should be free. I don't understand the criticisms about her methods either. After all, how else was she going to make lesson plans without using the materials provided to her?

    October 3, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • glcorp

      Nice plug, lol.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  2. GK

    Just remember, she didn't do that.

    October 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  3. Josh

    While I applaud Ms. Jump's initiative in utilizing her skills to supplement her income, I would caution any teacher who is attempting to profit from lesson plans, consumables, or other educational aids. School districts commonly claim ownership over all materials developed by teachers who are under contract, so long as those materials are 1) developed using resources provided by or purchased by the district, 2) created using district tools (such as a computer) and/or 3) developed during the instructional day or inside of a district facility.

    Unless you are developing all of your plans independently on a personal computer without pulling from any district-owned resources, you should be able to avoid any breach of contract. Of course, even if you follow those rules but pull material off the internet (especially videos or images), make sure that you are not violating copyright laws in the process.

    October 2, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  4. c. Sheen

    Hey, is she good lookin"??? Anybody have her phone number?????

    October 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  5. Karen

    Deanna was my daughters first grade teacher. My daughter to this day says that Deanna was her favorite teacher!
    Seeing her classroom again on CNN brings me back to when my daughter was learning these very same lessons!!

    October 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  6. Mikeyrue

    I thought the story was simple and inspring enough. The posts, however, were quite entertaining. I found many of them to be thought-provoking, and some others to be unfortunate.
    As for this enterprising teacher, good for her. If her lessons can be useful to others, then why not collect? If those others didn't find it worth the money, they wouldn't pay. Simple enough.
    As for the whole profession of teaching – their true monetary value will never be realized until they stop teaching and become an administrator or superintendent. Want to talk about skewed salary scales? Teacher vs Superintendent?
    Not even close. I believe good teachers are a special breed and the world benefits from them. It is not fair that they don't get paid as well as many may think they should, but life truly isn't fair.
    Have a nice day.

    October 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  7. Joy B.

    This teacher earning money for her innovative ideas is no different than J.K. Rowling earning royalties for her best-selling books. Good for her! Obviously, other teachers find value in her lesson plans. This is the free market at its best. I hope she earns millions more!

    October 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  8. John

    Good for her. With what teachers make these days it's surprising she's not out selling her body.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  9. Mugs

    What do teachers make? A difference.

    Some folks here think that a degree and a year or two of internship should make all teachers great. Not going to happen. Compare to doctors – degree, medical school, internship, residency – surely with all that training they would all be excellent! NOT We all know that some doctors are better than others. Why can't folks believe that some teachers are better than others?

    As for that "half the year" working schedule. If you take lesson planning, teaching, meetings, creating tests and grading them, and a coach or mentor for a student team or club, it quickly adds up to about 12 hour days, 7 days per week. Would you take a job where you were going to work 84 hours a week for ten months and then take two months off without pay?

    Teachers don't do it for the money – they do it for the kids – at least, the good ones do.

    September 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  10. cherish

    Heaven forbid a teacher rise above poverty! As a fellow teacher, I say you rock! Clearly you care so much about your students that you're willing to go above and beyond to create engaging lessons that do more than just teach standard 1.2.a. etc.

    September 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Guest

      Congratz to her for sure but to be honest I'd struggle to pay my bills as well if I only worked half the year.

      September 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
      • sldfkgj

        You seriously don't think she only works 6 months, do you?

        September 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  11. Rick Schauer

    I wonder if they'll like my lesson on child abuse.

    It starts with a teacher telling kids about an all-powerful sky-fairy that no one has ever seen, who has to torture his own son to save the world from sins the sky-daddy unleashed with the creation of people on Earth. And if you don't believe this story, kiddys...you will burn in hell forever with the devil and mean people and no one will like you.

    Yes, it is child abuse. It is not an education either.

    September 29, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • chet3

      Or you can tell them that there is no God, that there is nothing after this life, and that you are only as valuable as what you produce. To kill someone is no big deal because we are all just a random collection of atoms. This has produced some great people...like Stalin! Remind me which one is "child-abuse" again! Which society do you want to live in?

      September 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
      • seejayjames

        Quite a jump from "random collection of atoms" to "it's OK to kill someone else". Get a grip. You don't need religion to have morals, or to treat others as you would like to be treated.

        Until there's evidence otherwise, how can there be anything after death? Only by belief. If that's your belief, fine, but it's perfectly OK to believe that there's nothing afterwards too. We have had our lives and we are grateful. Maybe there is simply a recurring cycle or reincarnation. But "heaven" or "hell"? Seriously?

        September 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
      • ArchieDeBunker

        seejayjames: You've got it exactly backward. There is NO EVIDENCE whatever that there is not a God. You can call Him "sky-fairy" or whatever names you like to use in your religio-phobic, shrunken psyche, but until there is at least one scrap of evidence or knowledge to show where the Universe came from, I'll prefer to believe the most logical thing, and that is that when God said "Let There Be Light" – that was your beloved "Big Bang." There is absolutely no solid logic behind the stupid theories of atheism.

        ATHEISM: The belief that there was nothing, and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs. Makes perfect sense, right?

        October 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • coachher

      This is the most hysterical post I have read in awhile. Thank you for showing your lack of intelligence and making people laugh!!

      October 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  12. Q

    Compare her selling lesson plans to a kid selling homework answers. It's not entirely apples to apples, but it's close enough to make you think a little. To her I say, good on ya!

    September 29, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • Winnie-ther-Pooh

      Ridiculous. Not every teacher is as creative and energetic as every other. Some need help. Charging for helping is a time-honored tradition. Where does it say your methods should be a secret and selling or buying them is cheating? Is a doctor asking for a consult from another doctor cheating?

      September 29, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • sldfkgj

      That is not even close to the same thing.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  13. SweetAssassin

    "Other critics just seem to believe teachers shouldn't get rich."

    This sickens me. We place the future of our children in the hands of teachers whom are overworked and underpaid, yet we see the likes of Snooki, the Kardashians et al whom do nothing to contribute to society besides flood it with vapid, if not scandalous, topics such as what they're wearing.

    The monies Deanna Jump receives will never equate to the riches she gives to the children she teaches.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  14. Laura

    Deanna is an inspiration. Looking at her organized classroom and her creative lessons only makes me want to work harder (and I'm a teacher too). I think it's awesome that she doesn't have to worry about bills and can really focus on teaching. I wish my child could have a teacher devoted to education as passionately as her!

    September 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  15. dotheflippin'math

    I am a former high school math/science teacher and I think this is great! So many teachers don't have the time, skill, or experience to produce good (or any!) lesson plans. An unfortunate number of elementary school teachers are painfully lacking in math skills and teaching strategies. It used to drive me nuts when my algebra students couldn't add fractions. Their usual response was "My grammar school teacher said we don't need fractions anymore, because everyone has calculators." Sorry, but the real world is full of fractions, and you can't possibly master algebra and higher mathematics without fully understanding them. Back when I was a new teacher, I struggled trying to prepare lesson plans, along with all the tests and quizzes for the typical 5-class load. If I was lucky, I might have 2 of the same classes. Otherwise, I needed 5 sets of plans, assignments, etc. prepared each day. Add that to all the papers I took home to grade, and coaching a sport, and it's no wonder I rarely got more than 2-3 hours of sleep on weeknights. It's probably the reason I didn't get married until after I moved into computers. Teachers with children of their own, which is a large percentage, had an even more difficult time. Although, I've moved on professionally, I saved everything I created, and in raising my own children, I have learned that young children (4-8) have the ability to learn not only the usual adding/subtracting/etc. skills, but can also, and SHOULD also be taught the basics of decimals, fractions, negative numbers, and especially, algebra. While it may not be everyone's idea of fun, we spend a lot of our meals doing mental math problems, and discussing topics from chemistry and physics to foreign languages and geography. You want your kids to be successful? Take their education seriously, and teach them everything you can while they'll still listen to you. Raising kids is the hardest and most rewarding job you'll ever have. Do your best, and your kids will make the future a better place for all.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Guest

      They don't have the time yet they get more time off than any other job in the country in additioon to having periods during the day if not the week to work on lesson plans. I guess the 3-4 months off in the summer isnt being used properly yet they get paid over the summer if they choose that option. LMAO

      September 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
      • sldfkgj

        Teachers are paid for the # of days they work. It can be divided into 10 or 12 payments, but it is still for 10 months of work. In which state do you live? If your teachers are off for 4 months, I want to teach in your state. In most states the time off, that is unpaid time off, is used to CE (continuing education). It is very clear you've never taught.

        September 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
      • Lisa

        Guest,

        We have a contract to be paid a set amount to work a certain number of days. Some teachers choose to take bigger checks just during the school year, and some of us choose to take smaller checks through the entire calendar year for budgeting reasons.

        Maybe you need to go back to elementary math class. 2+2 =4 and 1+1+1+1=4

        Either way, the money is the same. There you go. I gave you a freebie lesson.

        And just so you know, I spend money every few years taking classes over my "summer vacation" to keep my teaching certificate valid. In case you don't know, classes are expensive. The cost of my graduate degree alone was almost $10,000 in the end, and I still have to take classes after that every few years. The summers where I don't have to take classes are spent planning and preparing units. My planning period (40 minutes a day) is spent making phone calls to parents, grading, planning, making copies, tutoring students, helping students with personal problems, etc. It is not like we just sit there or take a nap.

        September 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  16. Jerry Macks

    America still got talent. We just need to come together and restore our leadership.

    September 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • athensguy

      beautiful, creative and above all SMART!

      September 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  17. Joe

    Hmm.. so she makes money from the rest of the low-paid teachers?

    September 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • sldfkgj

      And they make money from her if she chooses that option...

      September 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • MCR

      Those teachers now have hours and hours of their lives back – meaning they made more per hour than without the lesson plans.

      September 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  18. kickniteasy

    14 students? That's laughable. Let's see what she can do when she's managing 180 high school students.

    September 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • PJ

      I'm guessing and I'm only guessing mind you, that with her motivation and innovation to earn a million bucks she do a hell of a lot!

      September 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
      • PJ

        Maybe should could even help me with my grammer.

        September 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
      • PJ

        Oh yea, and my spelling.

        September 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
      • kickniteasy

        I'm guessing you didn't read the "can" before the "do". Otherwise, your reply is just plain sad if you weren't trying to attack the grammar in my initial comment with your comment. In other words, what was the point of your two posts?

        September 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
      • PJ

        Self deprecating sarcasm you goof ball.

        September 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
      • Winnie-ther-Pooh

        LOL

        September 29, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • athensguy

      jealous much?

      September 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Miss D'Addario

      You do realize that while high school teachers are teaching MORE students, they are teaching them for far shorter amounts of time? Comparing a high school teacher to a primary school (early elementary school) teacher is like comparing apples and oranges. They require extremely different approaches, but both are time consuming and require hard work. A GOOD elementary school teacher teaches every single subject and is with their class of 14 children all day, with the exception of prep and lunch. High school teachers have more preps, and while they have more students, they are frequently teaching the same lesson to more than one class during the day.

      High school teaching and elementary teaching are both challenging in incredibly different ways. I am so sick of people downplaying the amount of time and energy it requires to be a passionate and effective elementary educator.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bob Campbell

      So you teach high school. It's a hard job with multiple challenges. 14 kids with attention spans of a flea and constantly squirming isn't easy either. Never berate another teacher unless you have first hand knowledge by personal observation of their teaching. Both of you probably have no idea how hard the other works.

      September 29, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • sldfkgj

      Really?! You can't even compare the two. Yes, I teach high school as well.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  19. Chris

    Wait – don't school districts already spend millions helping their teachers teach? Don't teachers get "masters degrees" (ie simple cont. ed) to forward their teaching skills? Didn't they originally get a college degree to learn to teach? And now someone is making millions handing out shortcuts lol too funny! What we need is teachers held to reasonable performance standards, not ways to cheat by not doing your own lesson plan. It would be funny if it weren't pathetic.

    September 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • PJ

      What is pathetic is your stupid response to a great story. Cheating on lesson plans? Really?

      September 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • alison

      The other thing teachers get is your ignorant , brain dead child because you expect someone else to do your dirty work.

      September 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Zane

      The school district may spend millions doing something, but it's not by teaching teachers to teach. With testing scores and all the politics around the classroom, teachers must follow a strict agenda (IE: reading 9-10, math 10-11), on top of following the same schedules as all teachers within the same grade level. Teachers can try to get creative w/teaching, but within certain parameters. What other occupation do you know of that requires a 4 year degree, an additiona 1-2 years of school/internship to get your credentail, all to get a job with an average starting salary of high 30's. Education may have its place in the classroom, but let's not forget that family and parents play a role too. Subsidize your children's education at home and stop placiing the blame elsewhere. They're YOUR children, own up to the responsiblity.

      BTW – I am not a teacher and work in the private sector.

      September 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
      • Chris

        Hmmm...sure seems to be no shortage of people who want to be school teachers! If things are so horrible being a teacher, then why is that?? hmmmm.....

        Oooooh and testing scores! Evil testing! Yea, THAT'S what is holding up our kids! lol what a joke.

        And hey, at least Missy didn't call it a masters! Missy, for your info, people that get continueing education and graduate degrees pay for it themselves.

        September 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Miss D'Addario

      I don't know where you live, but where I live, teachers put themselves through graduate school. Let me know where you reside, I might have to look into it because I'm currently paying out of pocket and so is every other teacher that I know.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Winnie-ther-Pooh

      Nimnull

      September 29, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Bob Campbell

      Boy are you misinformed. Teachers share good ideas all the time. As a teacher I had 50-60 books with great ideas for teaching. To totally reinvent the wheel is counter productive and foolish.

      September 29, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Rebecca

      Wow I have visited the site through pinterest and there are many great ideas. All teachers Birth through College work very hard. And yes I say birth I am an early childhood education major and even babies need good teachers. I don't see this site as cheating and the schools offer books not creative ideas to make learning fun and many good teachers don't have and need help in this area. We should all be thankful for our teachers and condescending.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Jason

      Teachers do have to get a Master's Degree but they pay for it out of their own pockets. The system pays for CE credits similar to how companies in the financial field pays for the brokers CE credits.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • mcquite

      They aren't shortcuts- they are ideas and ways to collaborate. Elementary teachers are responsible for planning for EVERY MINUTE of your child's day. It only makes sense for us to work together- and if that means I pay someone for their awesome idea because my district can't afford to give me the resources, than so be it. It's NOT coming out of YOUR pocket, Chris- it's coming out of mine- but thanks for being so concerned where my money goes!

      September 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  20. Oakspar

    (1) One teacher, acting super-American uses her talents to earn money.
    (2) Tons of other teachers, using their own money, work to get better at what they do.
    (3) Clearly, what is broken with American education isn't the teachers.

    That leaves the blame on:
    (A) Parents
    (B) Kids
    (C) Culture
    (D) Government Intervention in the Classroom
    (E) All of the above

    September 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • PJ

      E

      September 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Lori

      E.

      September 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  21. Seeker

    Hey, teach is using her brain and making some coin. Good on her!

    September 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  22. Zarnold

    Uh oh! She made a bunch of money. She doesnt pay enough in taxes. Tax her to death!!

    September 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  23. pervis drakona

    Tilf!

    September 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  24. Alisia

    This story is really inspirational! It brings hope into the concept of the American dream. It is nice to see that someone can work hard, honestly, do something that they love, and get rewarded for it! I particularly love that she is an educator. In my school experience I have had some wonderful teachers that really care about their students and worked extremely hard to make sure they succeeded. They remind me of this woman, good for her!

    September 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • PJ

      If Obama gets his way, the government will get close to half of that million. Just doesn't seem fare for her to pay that so called "fare share", does it?

      September 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • pastafarian

        Obama has never advocated that high of a tax rate, but if you didn't stay in school long enough to learn the distinction between "fare" vs. "fair," I'm not surprised that your math is also a bit off.

        October 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  25. alumette

    Very smart ! way to go. Sell people what they want and can afford. It benefits all.

    September 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  26. Hollywood

    I find her creative spirit inspiring. If her lesson plans help another teacher pass on her skills to the students, then everyone wins all around.

    September 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  27. Johnny

    Awesome, that is thinking out of the box!!!!! Even teachers need to make a living even if they make millions at least they are trying to make things better for other teachers. Way to Go!!!

    September 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |