Education majors who graduated from Millersville University this month don't have to look far to find an awesome place to work.
Lancaster is the best city in the country to be a teacher, according to a South Carolina-based data analysis and scholarship search company.
GoodCall created its list of the top 10 places to be a teacher based on average annual teacher salary, available teaching jobs, teaching jobs per capita, high school graduation rates, cost of living and amenities. It used data from the U.S. Census, Indeed.com, the National Center for Education Statistics, and WalkScore.com.
The average teacher salary for Lancaster is $60,370, and there were 69 teaching jobs available as of May 6, according to GoodCall. Those figures refer to public and private schools in the city, according to Carrie Wiley, the website's public relations manager.
The average salary in Lancaster is actually lower than six other cities that made the top ten list, but what "really puts (Lancaster) over the top (is) a near-perfect amenities score," according to GoodCall.
"Off-duty teachers enjoy shopping at malls and boutiques, strolling through museums and art galleries and exploring historical landmarks," the website says.
Those were some of the factors that McCaskey teacher Eric Hoover took into account when he and his wife, also a teacher, moved here from Portland, Maine, two years ago.
“Lancaster has a lot to offer in terms of quality of living. We kept hearing about the arts and music and great food here. It seemed to be a great place to raise kids," said Hoover, a father of four. "It was a remarkably easy transition for us."
Hoover said local housing prices are noticeably lower than in Portland, while salaries are higher. The city school district's 2014-15 starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree was $44,826, according to a district representative.
Mark Holman, human resources director for School District of Lancaster, agreed that local amenities make Lancaster an attractive place for new hires, most of whom are in their 20s or early 30s. The proximity to larger cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. enhance the attraction, he said.
But being a great place to teach can make it hard to land a job. The district has about 35 openings and received 400 applications so far this spring, according to Holman. Certain teaching positions, such as special education, can be harder to fill, though, he said.
Helena Tuleya-Payne, interim dean of Millersville University's education department, said that the college encourages students to consider Lancaster jobs for a different reason from GoodCall's data.
"There are opportunities there to make a difference in the lives of students," she said.
About 84 percent of the 11,000 students in School District of Lancaster are economically disadvantaged, according to the state Department of Education. Last year, the district had almost 900 homeless students.
Student demographics played into Hoover's relocation decision. The English as Second Language teacher said he wanted to work in a community that welcomed refugees and immigrants.
"The students here are great. They’re accepting of difference in a way that’s inspiring," he said.
Tuleya-Payne said she meets often with local superintendents and is impressed by the quality of education, innovation and vision across Lancaster County schools, not just in the city.
“It’s a great place to be a student and for our student teachers to be trained and hopefully find jobs,” she said.
Still, local kindergarten teachers might not be jumping for joy this week. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the top 25 hedge fund managers earn more than all of the nation's kindergarten teachers combined.
Are you a teacher? Where do you think is the best place to work? Tell us in the comments.