Diane Apple

2017 Teacher: Diane Dittmer

Diane Dittmer

4th Grade at Wilson Elementary

“I truly believe I was born to do this job. When I was little, I wanted to teach—just so I could write on the chalkboard. Later, when I went to college and started working with kids, I knew instantly that I had picked the right career.”


Following in her dad’s footsteps, Diane always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She began her teaching career at Wilson Elementary School in Rapid City and has been there for the past 27 years, inspiring countless students and changing their lives for the better. Her engaging, interactive approach to teaching also paved the way for her own daughter, Shawna Delaney, to follow in her footsteps.

“My mom has inspired me to become a teacher, and she is the best one I have ever encountered,” Shawna says. “Throughout my entire life, I have been approached by past students who still rave about her.”

Diane teaches all subjects, including reading, writing, math, and more—but, when you ask what her favorite lessons are to teach, with no hesitation she replies “science.” She teaches science in two fourth-grade classrooms and enjoys coming up with hands-on demonstrations for the kids. Whether it is gathering a DNA strand from a strawberry, exploding a clay volcano, or building ecosystems, Diane’s students are having a blast while learning.

“I love having fun with them, and laughing with them. I love their personalities and their thirst for knowledge,” she says. “I spend more time with my students than with my own family, and we talk about what family means. My students look out for one another, protect one another, and encourage one another.”

Likewise, Diane also looks out for her fellow teachers. Daughter Shawna reports that her mom is the Rapid City Education Association representative for her school, and that teachers come to her for support.

Diane specializes in making a difference in people’s lives. Each year, she adds 30 kids to her “family,” hoping that her students leave in the spring “knowing they are precious, important human beings, and that they are loved,” she says.

Photo by Jesse Brown Nelson Photography