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National Society of High School Scholars Recognizes Dimond High School Teacher
Anchorage School District educators adapted to distance learning in a year of challenges, while continuing to ensure students were set up for success. Dimond High School teacher Lem Wheeles was recognized by the National Society of High School Scholars as one of two finalists for Coach of the Year for his commitment to excellence in education, coaching, counseling, and productive instruction.
This award is presented to an exemplary educator for demonstrating an outstanding and noteworthy commitment to preparing their students for success inside and outside the classroom in a role as a coach or advisor. They are role models who consistently demonstrate stellar leadership.
Wheeles has been a teacher for 17 years and has spent his entire teaching career at Dimond High School and he has been no stranger to national awards and recognition.
Dimond Student Government was awarded the National Gold Council of Excellence Award under his leadership. He has also been recognized as the Alaska History Teacher of the Year, Alaska World Affairs Council’s Teacher of the Year, the Model UN of Alaska Advisor of the Year, and a BP Teacher of Excellence.
In 2020, his work as student government advisor earned him recognition from a former student and Dimond High School Principal Tina Johnson-Harris.
“It's an honor to be recognized for the work that I do, because it acknowledges that it’s important work. I'm a fulltime teacher and a student government advisor on top of that job. In many ways, it's a second job altogether. Being recognized honors all that my family and I sacrifice for the students to have this experience,” said Wheeles.
For all the accolades he’s received as a teacher, it's the bond to Dimond High School and the community around it that he is proud to support. “Dimond is my family – my parents are alumni, my wife and I started dating our senior year at Dimond, and our older daughter is a Dimond sophomore this year. We bleed maroon and gold!”
Wheeles made it his mission to continue the work of improving their school and community. Despite hurdles surrounding COVID-19, the Dimond Student Government group he oversees recently partnered with the Center for Safe Alaskans to ensure a safe and clean school parking lot. Wheeles said seeing his students take these steps to be leaders is what makes him most proud.
Johnson-Harris sees first-hand what Wheeles means to Dimond. “Lem models what we aspire our students to be able to do; lead fulfilling and productive lives in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex society. He is a teacher, leader, and life-long learner. It is truly an honor working with Lem,” she said.