Dimond Attracts Former Students As Teachers

Every high school has traditions.  A.J. Dimond High School is no exception, but traditions are not what set Dimond apart.

What makes Dimond such a unique school is the incredibly strong sense of community between staff members and students.

At any given time between 20-25 percent of the staff graduated from Dimond as high school students.

Scott Campbell, a science teacher and graduate of the class of 1999, attributes this large number to the strong community and culture that has characterized Dimond for decades.

He says of former principal of 14 years, Cheryl Guyett, “[she] fostered an environment you want to be in.”

Also a graduate of the class of ‘99, Lem Wheeles, the Student Government advisor, attributes his interest in teaching to his own experiences in Student Government as a junior and senior.

When offered the position after six years of teaching Social Studies at Dimond he jumped at the chance to be even more involved in the atmosphere and community of the school.

Danielle Brister, a graduate of the class of 2005, says “Everyone’s friends. They all help each other out.”

Because such a large number of graduates return to Dimond as teachers, peers become colleagues and teachers become friends.

Brister and Wheeles both said that at first it seemed strange to call their former teachers by first names, but as the years go by it has become normal.

Of students returning as teachers, Susan Derrera, one of Dimond’s most experienced Language Arts teachers, says, “it makes [her] really proud… to see someone come into themselves.”

She taught both Wheeles and Campbell and smiled when relaying how the strengths she saw in them as their teacher have come out in their adult lives.

Returning to high school as a teacher provides a vastly different perspective, and for Dimond alumni teaching at Dimond that perspective is particularly unique.

Rob Hartley, a graduate of the class of 1984, says that being a counselor has made him “far more aware of different styles of teaching and learning”.

Campbell has also realized the “difference in abilities” between students and adds that he has learned “you can have a way more personal relationship with your students than I ever thought.”

Derrera states that Dimond is fortunate to have “very supportive compassionate staff who genuinely care about each other and the students.”

For staff members who taught Dimond teachers, seeing their young families and understanding their struggles is an important component to the supportive environment.

Some Dimond students are the second or third generation in their family to attend Dimond, adding to the family friendly environment.

Many of both the multi-generational Dimond families and the alumni teachers attended school in the old Dimond building.

Brister, who spent her freshman and sophomore years in the old building and junior and senior years in the new, said the new building had a sort of “prison feel” because of the lack of windows but was still very nice.

Hartley says the new building has a “similar environment” to the old and “kept some of the  culture” from the old building.

If you happen to be walking down the halls on any given day you might happen upon Wheeles and Campbell “rehashing memories,” or Derrera fostering new relationships with students who just might return to Dimond as teachers.