Dimond Principal to Retire after 10 Years

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Cheryl Guyett has been Dimond’s principal for 10 years, and last month she announced her retirement.

“It has been a really good legacy,” Guyett said.

She is trying to prepare herself to leave Dimond, “which is hard to do when you invest so much and you get so close to people.”

“I have talked with some of my friends who have already retired or are getting close, and most of them haven’t been nearly as fulfilled in the kind of work they do. They feel like they do good work, and they did a good job, but until you really work at something that really makes a difference in life, you don’t realize how great it can be,” she said.

“It has just been an amazing, wonderful 10 years as the Dimond principal. I certainly haven’t accomplished everything I thought I would,” Guyett said, “but I’m very, very pleased with how much the staff, students and community set out to do.

“I just have had so much fun, really, professional fun, working with students, and the staff and parents at Dimond who bring in the things such as the freshman house, and the late start Mondays, Engineering Academy, the initiatives that Student Government by themselves have incorporated.”

Guyett also cited the Dimond Birthday, A.J. Dimond Day, the Spirit Olympics this year, “maintaining a very, very strong JROTC program, the improvements in our facility itself,” with the stadium, and then the track, enlarging the library and finally getting the art out there in front of the school.

“They seem like small things, but they really add up to quality,” Guyett said.

Even though Guyett has been Dimond’s principal for 10 years, she has lived and studied in many places.

“I graduated from the same high school, although a different building, but the same building as my great-great-great grandparents, in New York,” Guyett said.

Guyett knew that she wanted to go to college, although neither of her parents went to college. “So, I set my sights on state schools in New York and graduated in three years with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a teaching degree.

“From there, it took me awhile to actually start teaching and I was doing a variety of different kinds of work, like running a bookstore, running a post office in Colorado, I worked with an Upward Bound program and then started teaching high school English, and journalism and yearbook in Colorado and in Montana,” Guyett said.

“After teaching for awhile I felt like I was extremely happy teaching. It was really a creative kind of work, and I love English, I love spoken word and written word.

“I just felt like, truthfully I felt like I had terrible principals, and I shouldn’t criticize about finding out what it was like so I decided to get a master’s and that would set me up to be a high school principal.

“At that time I had no responsibilities to anybody so I applied all over the place and was accepted at Harvard.

At Harvard, she got her master’s in a “concentration called Teaching Curriculum and Learning Environments and just enough administration to get my principal certification,” Guyett said.

Then, Guyett wanted to return to Montana as a principal, but couldn’t find a job. “In Montana they felt like a female principal coming out of Harvard probably couldn’t relate to their student body or do the kind of work that needed doing.

“So, I ended up taking a job with Educators for Social Responsibility back in Boston.” She was their national program director so she “got to travel  around the country working with that great organization, which still publishes all kinds of material about social emotional learning, today.

“After a year again, the bug to return to Montana got into my bloodstream, and I wanted to leave the big city. So, I drove back across the country and this time got a principal position,” Guyett said.

Her first principal job was on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation with a 6-12 school and after working there for just two years, “I took a job at another school, West Yellowstone, which is in Yellowstone Park.”

She was the 7-12 principal there, and “we would graduate and have our graduation ceremony in Yellowstone Park and it was really pretty awesome.

“Then, my husband at the time wanted to return to Alaska,” she said. “I’d never been to Alaska, so I started applying around for jobs and I got a job as an assistant principal in Sitka.

“I worked there for four years and lived right on the ocean,” she said. It was a “very strong community really supportive of their schools, like here in Anchorage.

“Finally, I really felt the calling to be a mother. We owned a ranch down in Montana, so I felt it would be best to go back to Montana, get away from the stress and just focus on having a baby,” Guyett said. “That’s exactly what happened. I got to spend the first year of my daughter’s life with her down there in Montana not working.

“I actually took care of other kids in the neighborhood and lived on our ranch. And then, it was time to return to work and Anchorage had a job,” Guyett said. She “applied and got a job as the Activities Principal at East High School and that was in ‘95.

“I packed up the one-year-old, and we actually bought a moving truck and drove it up the highway from Montana like so many families do,” Guyett said.

I “started out at East High and I was there for five years and I did activities, and then I did discipline and then I ran the school within a school program at East.”

Guyett was transferred over to Dimond in the fall of 2000, she said. “I came over here as an Assistant Principal and it was the last year in the original Dimond High School.

“I think I was brought over here mostly to help bring staff together to get ready for this enormous and very challenging move into a new building. And it really was a challenge because we were building at the same time we were living in the old building. Guyett was appointed principal of Dimond the “year after we kinda moved into this building,” Guyett said. “And the rest is history.”

“For the last 20-some years, I’ve had goals that I’ve needed to get done every single day, all day long,” Guyett said. “So right now, I’m not making any plans. I’m taking some months to figure out what it is I really want to give this next chapter of my life to, what kinds of things I want to get done. But for sure, one thing I want to do is to get back into better physical fitness and health, dedicate more of my time to friends and extended family, have fun,” Guyett said.

“I’ve already got a bucket list of things I want to do in Alaska. I, like many hardworking Alaskans haven’t really gotten out and done a lot of things a lot of tourists do. So there are places I want to go and see,” Guyett said.

It has just been an amazing, wonderful 10 years as the Dimond principal.”

— Cheryl Guyett