How We're Making It Work

By George Anders, PARADE

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salaries

Marybeth Purvis' job keeps changing in this tough economy, but her tenacity never falters. When her property-sales office hit hard times last year, she dodged unemployment by becoming a community-college teacher. At first, all she could find was part-time work teaching math and economics. So she shuttled between three campuses near her Richmond, Ky., home, earning wages of just $24,000.

Frustrating? Yes. Discouraging? No way. Purvis, 41, also received a bonus based on student evaluations and hopes to go full-time soon. If that doesn't pan out, she plans to become certified as a high school math teacher to boost her income. As Purvis sees it, the recession didn't wreck her career; it redefined it. "I really enjoy teaching," she says, "and I know I'm good at it."