Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford named 10th best place in U.S. for teachers

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Va (WDBJ7) Teaching in the New River Valley looks to be a growing opportunity.

The website GoodCall named the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford area the 10th best place in the country for teachers to work and live.

In response, local teachers said they were happy, but not surprised. Many of them said they knew right away this is where they wanted to work.

Teaching in the New River Valley revolves around the students, the schools, and the area in general.

First grade teacher in Montgomery County Kim Rygas said, "It's just a sense of community, that you kind of just belong here. That's how I've felt."

Lori Keister, a second grade teacher in the city of Radford, added, "I went to school at Radford University and actually did my student teaching in Radford city and instantly fell in love with the place, just the people here, the sense of community, and I got a job right after student teaching and I'm starting my 11th year."

One of the factors in the recent rankings was student success ratings, which is high in the area.

Reading teacher in Radford at McHarg Elementary Kelly Wheeler explained, "I think it's the teachers, but I think it's also the community, the support that we get from the community is wonderful."

Another factor was salary and a healthy job market, which Superintendents knew is key.

Radford City Schools Superintendent Rob Graham explained, "We're very, very competitive. This year we gave a 2.5% raise for our staff, so we know that being competitive like that will draw the best teachers to come and work with our students."

This new ranking by GoodCall is expected to help market these schools to new teachers looking for places to work.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Miear said, "Our applicant pool this past Spring and Summer has been good. We've been real fortunate that we've hired some very, very qualified folks to teach this coming Fall."

But it's also important to retain good teachers the schools already have.

"Our average would probably be 15-20 year veterans here," McHarg Elementary School Principal Michael Brown said. "Once teachers come to work for Radford city, they tend to stay."

And based on teachers' feelings, that's a trend that looks to continue.

"I think that this is where I was meant to be, so hopefully if they'll have me, I'll stay here," Keister said.

"I graduated from Christiansburg High School and I'm working now in Blacksburg, I hope to stay in the area for the long haul," Rygas added.

"I don't plan on moving anywhere else, this is a great place to be and to teach."

Miear echoed Grahams sentiment regarding competitive salaries in the area.

In fact, according to the Virginia Department of Education, Montgomery County has an average teacher salary of $47,938 and Radford city is at $50,720.

They're both a little under the $55,553 state average, but for Southwest Virginia it's comparable.

For a full list of average teacher salaries in the state, click the link under related links titled Department of Education 2015-2016 Salary Report.