GREENFIELD — Teachers come and go each school year for a variety of reasons, but a bumper crop of new teachers has turned up within the Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon school districts this year.

Forty new teachers were hired at Mt. Vernon while 37 were hired at Greenfield-Central at the start of this school year.

Three new teaches were hired at Hancock County’s smallest district — Eastern Hancock schools — while 16 new teachers were hired at Southern Hancock schools, where four teaching positions are yet to be filled.

“The number of vacancies we had to fill this year were down a little compared to last year, which is good,” said Craig Smith, the district’s director of communication and community outreach.

Greenfield-Central Superintendent Harold Olin said the number of vacancies in his district were up from years past.

“I thought we were in pretty good shape as we ended the year — we had about 20 spots we knew were were going to have to fill — but we continued to get a few surprises over the course of June and July,” said Olin, who commended his principals for spending a good part of their summer conducting interviews and hiring top-notch candidates.

“We had a number of teachers join us in the hiring process too,” said Olin, who has personally met with each new teacher.

At Greenfield-Central, some of the new recruits are fresh out of college while others transferred in from other districts. A few have come out of retirement to return to the classroom.

“We had multiple people apply for the jobs we had to fill, and I’m very pleased when I look at the Class of 2023 (teachers) we were able to bring in,” said Olin. “We brought in a nice amount of young people right out of college and also brought back four or five retirees who were interested in coming back to Greenfield-Central.”

Ken Howell is a former school administrator who was hired to teach science at Greenfield-Central High School.

Marti Dudley, a former Greenfield-Central teacher, came out of retirement from Lawrence Township to teach at Maxwell Middle School.

David and Sarah McKenzie, a husband and wife pair of educators who retired from teaching in Plymouth, were both hired to teach language arts at Greenfield-Central High School.

Other educators who are new to the staff came out of retirement from Wayne Township and Carmel-Clay schools.

“I think that’s a pretty extensive list of retirees that wanted to join us here at Greenfield-Central,” said Olin. “They bring with them a wealth of experience and expertise, and we’re glad to have it.”

While Greenfield-Central was able to hire a number of new and returning teachers, studies show educators are leaving the profession at an alarming rate in recent years.

According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, research shows that nearly a third of K-12 educators in the United States were thinking of leaving their jobs last year, which equates to roughly 900,000 teachers nationwide.

In a survey of more than 1,800 U.S. educators, school leaders, and school mental health professionals at the end of the 2021-22 school year, respondents listed compensation and expectations as the two main factors for leaving while meaningful work and colleagues were cited as the two main factors to stay.

A rise in school violence and the stress of the COVID pandemic have also played a big role in educators opting to leave the profession in recent years.

Yet that doesn’t keep scores of teachers from continuing to do what they love.

Recent Ball State graduate Noah Mohler of Greenfield knew the teaching profession was right for him.

Just four years after graduating from Greenfield-Central High School, he returned to his alma mater this month to launch his teaching career.

The 22-year-old said it’s been a fun yet odd experience to be teaching at the same school where he walked the halls as a student not long ago.

“It felt really weird that first day because I didn’t even feel qualified … like I was in their seat four years ago and here I am being their teacher, so it was kind of crazy in that regard. Calling (former teachers) by their first name was also really weird for me,” he said with a smile.

It’s also an odd experience to teach his friends’ siblings.

“I even had one of my best friends in class when I was student-teaching here last spring,” he said.

With a mop of thick hair and a young man’s style, Mohler blends right in with some of his students, but he uses his youth to his advantage in connecting with them.

“I think there’s something about youth that allows them to have conversations with me that maybe they wouldn’t feel as comfortable having with someone else, and that’s something I tell them at the beginning of the year,” he said.

“The main reason I came into education was that I was always driven to help and motivate others and be a resource for them, so I tell them straight up, ‘I may be a little more approachable because of my age — I might be able to relate to you a little better — so by all means stop by and talk when you need to.’”

Mohler said his mom — a special education teacher for the past 25 years — has been a tremendous influence on his desire to teach and make a difference in students’ lives.

“Like her, I feel I’ve always gravitated toward anyone who has any type of special need, whether it’s behavioral or social or whatever, and I always want to try to tend to that need and make them feel safe in my class,” said Mohler, whose teaching style is light on lecturing and heavy on classroom interaction.

“One thing I heavily prioritize is relationship building, so I like to get them up and moving and interactive to create a little bit of community in the classroom,” he said.

Mohler graduated from Ball State this past spring with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with concentrations in historical perspectives and psychology.

While in high school, he played four years of golf and two years of tennis. He plans to serve as assistant coach for the golf team and assist with student council this year.

“It just feels good to have the opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” said the young educator. “My mission is hopefully to help these kids as much as I can and enjoy what I do. I want to help get them ready for college or to have a successful career in whatever they want to do.”

Administrators at Greenfield-Central High School feel lucky to have an ambitious young teacher like Mohler join their staff.

“He’s wonderful,” said assistant principal Susie Coleman. “We’re so happy to have him.”