COLORADO SPRINGS — Some local teachers have a special connection to their schools as they head back to work.
Harrison School District 2 has 52 alumni returning as teachers, administrators, and educational support staff for the upcoming school year.
"District 2 is just a place of community and culture. To be able to be a part of that, and on the other side of the desk, is exciting," said Kelby Dias, Student Support Specialist, Student Success Center at Sierra High School.
He spent his entire educational career in the district and that time helped shape him into the person he is today.
"It gave me more of a clear path to success. Being able to succeed in athletics, and then leveraging that to go to college," said Dias.
When faced with challenges, the district also helped him overcome obstacles in his life.
"I had an early diagnosis of ADHD which was a little challenging early on, but the wrap-around situation in the community and culture of Sierra High School helped hone my skills and my path once I got to high school," said Dias.
Now Dias gets to help kids who may be going through the same struggles.
"It will be full circle for me. Helping those students who are struggling right now and being that person they can come to," said Dias.
He is not the only alum with a strong connection to the district.
"My mother works at Turman Elementary. She has been there since I've been there, and she has worked her way up from the cafeteria to be a secretary," said Selina Barners, PE and Health Teacher, Sierra High School.
She returned to the same district her mother works in to help make a difference for kids in the southeast part of the city.
"Just trying to be that example for them because I know that they struggle with commitment and attitude, and help them persevere no matter where they live," said Barnes.
"I grew up in a single-parent household, and funds were tight. Despite that, the district was always there. They pushed me to get to college, and showed me anyone in any circumstance can achieve," said Andre Ellis, Mathematics Teacher, Sierra High School.
Like so many graduates, Ellis is hoping to set an example for kids in the district.
"It is always good to see someone who looks like you that is doing something that you thought you couldn't do," said Ellis.
"Seeing someone who looks like you, and came from where you came from definitely gives you more perspective and more relatable. The students really do see that, and can sense that," said Dias.
The district has also launched a teacher cadet program to assist seniors who wish to become teachers. They will return to the district to work in exchange for the assistance they received during their senior year.