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Former Indiana teacher reflects on decision to walk away as state struggles to fill positions

According to the Indiana Department of Education, there are more than 2,300 open teaching positions in the state.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some schools across Indiana are feeling the pressure to fill open teaching positions as the fall school year approaches. School leaders say if they aren't filled, it could impact your child's education.

Karissa Hartwyk and her husband recently walked away from teaching at Decatur Township Schools, each for 18 years. They ended their last school year a few weeks ago and moved to New York. 

"What really was the kicker for me was my 5-year-old asking me why I was sad," Hartwyk said. "They were seeing it on both mom and dad, and I thought, 'This is not the way I want to raise my kids.'"

According to the Indiana Department of Education, there are more than 2,300 open teaching positions in the state., with 522 of those for elementary school, 546 for middle school and 799 for the high school level. 

Hartwyk said part of the issue is that years ago, teachers could make things fun and interactive, but that's not always the case now.

RELATED: Indiana schools struggling with teacher shortage

"We didn't have any freedom to do what we knew would work for our kids," Hartwyk said. "Now, you don't have that luxury, you are under a microscope, all day, every day, by everyone. By parents, by administration, by the state. It's always about a number, it's always about a test score."

That stress is what Hartwyk believes is leading other teachers to quit or walk away, along with pay.

The average salary in Indiana is $53,000 compared to $70,000 in Illinois and $63,000 in Ohio. For Hartwyk, any raises she saw didn't keep up with the hike in other critical costs.

"All of my health care costs went up, the amount that they're contributing to my health care went down, my out of pocket went up, things like that," Hartwyk said. 

RELATED: Indiana desperately needs special ed teachers

Hartwyk said, ultimately, it was her mental health that was most important, and she hopes more teachers can push through and be there for the students.

"To make the choice to leave, that is very, very difficult, but at the end of the day, it's about my boys, and I want them to have the best parents that they can," Hartwyk said.

To apply for a teaching job here in Indiana, click here

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