Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 10, 2023

Purcell juggles teaching, selling homes

Primary career helps in education of her RE clients

Shelby Purcell is a third grade teacher at Middle Valley Elementary School and a part time real estate agent with RE/MAX Renaissance Realtors. - Photograph provided

There are days when Shelby Purcell simply would like to have a conversation with an adult. Since she’s a third grade teacher, those days when she can tend to be few and far between.

“There are mornings when I wake up and realize I’m going to spend my day arguing with third graders,” Purcell, 26, says with a laugh. “I love teaching that age. Your kids still love you and are very sweet, but at the same time, they’re independent enough to do things on their own and think for themselves and their personalities are starting to emerge.”

When Purcell returns home at the end of a workday, her very own adult version of Dennis the Menace – her husband, Ross Purcell – greets her at the door.

“I tell him all the time I feel like I married a third grader,” Purcell chuckles. “He would have been the boy getting in trouble for taping a sign to someone’s back that read, ‘Kick me.’ He makes me laugh every day.”

Near the end of last year, Purcell took on a second profession that has opened the door to the purely adult interactions she sometimes craves – part time Realtor.

As an agent at RE/MAX Renaissance Realtors, Purcell is working with buyers evenings and weekends to help them find their dream home. She says being a teacher has dovetailed beautifully into real estate.

“The amount of education homebuyers need surprised me,” she says. “I spend most of our time together teaching them about Chattanooga and how to purchase a house.”

As a budding Realtor, Purcell says she has a lot to learn as well. Fortunately, she adds, her in-laws are Mike and Brenda Purcell of RE/MAX Renaissance.

“They know a lot about the business and have been great mentors.”

The rest of the agents and staff at RE/MAX Renaissance have also been helpful, Purcell notes.

“It’s been a friendly community to join and I’ve been very well supported.”

Adding real estate to her resume was an unexpected venture for Purcell, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate who’s wanted to teach third grade since she was a third grader herself.

“I loved my third grade teacher,” Purcell recalls. “She inspired my dream to teach.”

Purcell earned a degree in education and then immediately landed a job at Middle Valley Elementary School teaching third grade – the very grade she wanted to instruct.

“Third grade is a big jump academically. You’re still babied a bit in first and second grade and that’s still a happy time. And then in third grade – boom – your teacher is grading you and the state is testing you.

“There’s a shift from being taught how to read to reading pretty difficult text and being challenged to understand an author’s craft and point of view. It’s intense.”

As passionate as Purcell is about teaching third graders, she says the pay falls short of what she needs. So, she turned to another passion in the hopes of generating more income – homes.

“If I’d been better at math, then maybe I could have been an architect in another life,” she muses. “I’ve always loved discovering the potential in a home and visualizing the changes I’d make. That makes working with clients as we search for a home fun.”

Since real estate is an after hours endeavor for Purcell, she’s established what she calls reasonable objectives for herself. While consulting with her father-in-law, she decided to initially aim to close eight transactions a year, which she says would double her income.

“I’m not looking to be a top earner or become super intense. I don’t need to do that because I’m still teaching,” she adds. “But I do have goals.”

Purcell has aligned her marketing efforts with her goals. She’s dabbled in social media and purchased an ad in Homes & Land Magazine for starters, and she’s beginning to identify and reach out to her sphere.

As a native of Chattanooga, Purcell says she already knows a great many people. Her husband – a renewable energy professional who works with a U.S.-based hydroelectric company – has also proved useful in this regard.

“I call him a little mayor. Everywhere we go, he knows even more people than I do. And he’s a great salesman. He met someone on a plane who ended up being my first renter client. I still haven’t heard the end of that.”

Purcell’s husband has plenty of opportunities to rib her, as they enjoy spending time together outdoors, whether they’re hunting with their three dogs, water skiing or fishing in Chickamauga Lake.

Now that Purcell is a Realtor, even her leisure time inspires plans for her business.

“I remember when North Chattanooga had a Town and Country Restaurant and that was it,” Purcell marvels. “Now a new restaurant and bar is opening every week. I’m looking forward to introducing people who are moving here to all the things I love about Chattanooga and being an ambassador for my hometown.”

For the moment, Purcell says she’s content to work as both a teacher and a Realtor. But if her real estate business takes off, she’ll have a decision to make, she says.

“I might fall in love with real estate and want to do it full time someday,” she says. “It takes a long time to build a clientele, though, so I’m grateful to still be teaching.”

Besides, if Purcell stopped teaching, there would probably be days when she missed arguing with third graders.