SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Five students returned to the Aberdeen School District this year, but this time, they are the teachers.

Sydney Hepperle, Haylee Mork, Megan Tiede, Mariah William and Ezekiel Wills are all graduates of Aberdeen Central High and are now first-year teachers in the Aberdeen district.

William did not apply to work in any other district. “I’ve always loved this school district. I’ve always had amazing experiences,” she said.

William attended district schools from kindergarten through her high school graduation.

Aberdeen superintendent Dr. Becky Guffin has been working in the district for 33 years. She has been the superintendent for nine years and was the assistant superintendent for several years prior to that.

“It’s just always thrilling to watch students be successful in whatever they choose to do,” Guffin said of students who have graduated from the high school.

“As we’ve watched these students grow throughout the years, it has been fun for us to watch them develop into the great teachers we know they are going to be and to see that excitement for coming back to the district and for serving our students,” Guffin said.

William said she was inspired by her teachers in the district. That includes her debate coach Kerry Konda who encouraged her in debate and in her ideals to give back and make changes in the world.

William stayed connected to the district as a coach in the debate program and being a substitute in the classroom.

“I really knew I wanted to be a teacher when I got to sub in the district,” William said. “I just knew that I loved kids and I wanted to be able to do something that I could see a positive difference every day in someone’s life.”

In a news release from the district, the four other teachers at Aberdeen also cited the influence of their own teachers and experience in the district as reason they wanted to teach and work in the Aberdeen district.

“After growing up in the district, I knew I always wanted to come back, especially since the impact that the teachers had on me,” Mork said in the district news release.

“I think it speaks to the culture here in Aberdeen that people want to be part of something that’s really good. That they want to come back. That they want to continue growing and learning and they want to give back,” Guffin said.

The new teachers will be teaching with many of the teachers who taught them.

William said she will feel some pressure to be teaching with former teachers but she will use that as a learning experience.

“It’s really cool to teach alongside them and to learn alongside them,” William said.

William said it was exciting to have her own classroom and know she’d be working with kids every day.

Four of the new hires are graduates of nearby Northern State University and one graduated from Dakota Wesleyan. Guffin said the district works closely with NSU’s education department and encourages any student interested in education.

William said she knows she could make more money in a different profession but that is outweighed by the chance to work with students. Kids need teachers that care about them, that can inspire them, William said. That’s what she wants to do. “No amount of money could ever pay me enough to give that up,” she said.

Guffin said that’s the overall sentiment of teachers in the district.

William said as a debate participant in high school and later, as a debate coach and a sub in the district, she saw firsthand success stories of students. “I think if more people had the opportunities to see those successes or just see the amazing stories that take place in schools, they’d may be a little bit more interested in education,” William said.

William will be teaching Project Lead the Way in middle school. It is a career exposure curriculum class for middle school students. Tiede will be teaching in the CARE Resource Room at the elementary level. Mork will teach sixth grade science middle school. Wills is a counselor at the elementary level. Hepperle is a special education preschool teacher.