Allenna Ward

LAURENS, S.C. (AP) — A former middle school teacher was sent to prison for six years Tuesday for having sexual encounters with five teenage boys.

Authorities said Allenna Ward, 24, met 14- and 15-year-old boys at the school where she taught as well as at a motel, a park and behind a restaurant.

"I apologize from the depths of my heart," Ward said in court.

Police began investigating last year after school officials found a note believed to have been written by Ward to one of the boys. Some of the victims were students at Bell Street Middle School in Clinton, where Ward taught. She was fired about a year ago.

Ward pleaded guilty in September to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and three lewd acts on a minor.