Utah educators responded to WalletHub ranking Utah as the second best state for teachers in their list of 2022’s Best and Worst States for Teachers.
The WalletHub article, which came out Sept. 19, aimed “to help America’s educators find the best opportunities and teaching environments.”
According to the website, WalletHub focused on two key dimensions: opportunity and competition, and academic and work environment.
Being a teacher is not without its challenges. According to a Utah report on teacher recruitment and retention, “nearly four out of every 10 beginning teachers exit the profession within five years.”
David Boren is currently an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations at BYU. Before teaching at BYU, Boren worked as a teacher and administrator in Utah’s Alpine School District.
“A lot of districts in Utah have done a great job of that building support for teachers,” Boren said. “Despite the hardships, they have somewhere to turn to.”
Boren said that school working conditions are influenced by school and district leadership and the environment those leaders create at the school.
“Schools that build in a lot of mentoring, coaching, and collaboration time among teachers — that can really bolster a teacher’s morale,” Boren said.
Christian Smith is the principal at Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs. Smith said he tries to promote well-being at his school by making sure he treats teachers like professionals and sending teachers to professional conferences.
“The private sector gets to do a lot of things, has bonus incentives,” Smith said. “Using my budget to create or mirror that experience in some small way is one of the things that I do.”
Smith also said he acts as a barrier between teachers and parents who may be especially upset if the teachers have been doing what they feel is right in the classroom.
“They just need to know that I have their back,” he said. If they’re doing good they’ve got to know that I’ll support them.”
Lauren Payne is a BYU senior studying early childhood education. She is currently a student teacher and will graduate in December.
“That’s really cool to hear that Utah is so good because that’s definitely one of the places I’ll teach in,” Payne said. “That makes me feel good about teaching here for sure.”