Kingman rated as great spot for elementary teachers

Cost of living, scenery two pluses for former New Yorker Naomi Craig

Naomi Craig, special education teacher, works with a student at Desert Willow Elementary School Friday.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR> Naomi Craig, special education teacher, works with a student at Desert Willow Elementary School Friday.

KINGMAN - Naomi Craig doesn't doubt the truth of a recent study ranking Kingman as the 14th best city in the Mountain states for elementary teachers.

Craig, 24, a special education teacher at Desert Willow Elementary School, moved to Kingman last fall from Rochester, N.Y., to take a job at La Senita Elementary. Not only did the position and salary appeal to her, but she fell in love with the area's beauty and its lower cost of living. When La Senita became a preschool this year, Craig was moved to Desert Willow Elementary.

"Teaching jobs are scarce back East and the school district here really needed a special education teacher," said Craig. "Kingman is definitely different from New York and I'm glad I came here. There's not a lot of shopping yet, but it's very beautiful and there are mountains wherever you look. My family is always asking when I'm coming back. I tell them I don't have an answer for that yet."

Kingman snagged the 14th spot in a list compiled by Ting Pen, co-founder of, a computer research and data website. Pen said he gathered data from cities in eight Mountain states and analyzed it. The list was developed using a combination of factors, including salaries, cost of living and concentration of the profession at each location. Statistics came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling's Best Places Cost of Living Calculator.

"This list is important because it highlights Kingman's attractiveness as a destination for teachers to work," said Pen. "Most teachers tend to gravitate towards large cities, and this study calls attention to other cities that have a great balance of employment concentration, median salary and cost of living."

With this study's results, said Pen, new or relocating teachers are informed of alternate cities they may not have considered and the highlighted cities may have access to more diverse pools of teachers. Pen said the job outlook for elementary teachers in the U.S. is projected to be 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, a few percentage points above the national job growth for all occupations.

According to the study, the median salary for elementary school teachers in Kingman is $37,660 and the city has a low cost of living index at 93. Pen said the hiking trails and campgrounds of nearby Hualapai Mountain Park, various museums and neighboring ghost towns offer elementary school teachers respite on weekends or academic breaks.

The median salary for teachers used as a basis for the ranking was $44,980 in the Mountain states as of May 2012. The average salary at that time ranged widely from city to city, said Pen, starting at $36,750 in Prescott to $67,240 in Las Cruces, N.M. There were a reported 74,570 teachers working in those eight states at that time, he added.

The top 13 cities in the study from highest to lowest were Las Cruces; Ogden and Clearfield, Utah; Boise City and Nampa, Idaho; Farmington, N.M.; Provo and Orem, Utah; Greeley, Colo.; Las Vegas and Paradise, Nev.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Phoenix, Mesa and Glendale; Boulder, Colo.; and Lewiston, Idaho. Lake Havasu City was included in Kingman's ranking.

The remainder of the top 20 included St. George, Utah; Fort Collins and Loveland, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Yuma; Tucson; and Denver, Aurora and Broomfield, Colo.