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Diane Wahto

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Diane Wahto has been a teacher most of her adult life. Her teaching career began in 1965 in a one-room country school in Decatur, Michigan. She retired as an English/journalism/creative writing instructor from Butler Community College, in El Dorado, Kansas, in 2001, but continued to teach English Composition I and II online until the summer of 2008. She taught high school journalism at Winfield High School, Winfield, Kansas, for nine years. There, she developed and taught a television broadcast journalism class, as well as advised the student newspaper and yearbook.

Diane was active in the Kansas-National Education Association, serving as Association president and chief negotiator during her teaching career. She also served as grievance officer at Butler. Her Butler peers chose her as Master Teacher in 1996.

Active in liberal causes throughout her adult life, Diane became a pacifist when she was 17 and has been an anti-war activist since the '60s, when she marched against the Vietnam War at Western Michigan University. Diane is currently the board chair of the Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, Wichita, Kansas. Among the Peace Center activities is an anti-recruitment Opt-Out program in the Wichita School district that has increased parental involvement by fifty percent in the four years it has been in effect. Other projects of the Center include a push for universal health care reform and the peace essay and art contest (PEACE) for Wichita students. These activities are in addition to ongoing member demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She is also a pro-choice advocate, as a clinic support volunteer for several years at Dr. George Tiller's clinic and other clinics in Wichita, Kansas. She volunteered as a campaign letter writer and spokesperson for ProKanDo until recently when the PAC was discontinued upon Dr. Tiller's death. With other pro-choice activists, she organized a rally in response to the return of Operation Rescue to Wichita in 2001. The featured speaker at the rally, Emily Lyons, spoke of the fight to maintain abortion rights as a war. The Operation Rescue return engagement was a bust, with the pro-choice community coming out strong against it.

A life-long Democrat, Diane is a precinct committeewoman for the Sedgwick County Democratic Central Committee and secretary of Kansas' Fourth District Democrats. She has campaigned for Democratic candidates since Jimmy Carter ran for president and was active in the K-NEA political action committee, lobbying for teacher rights in the state legislature.

Diane's first letter to the editor was published in the Detroit Free Press. Since then, she has had letters published in The Los Angeles Times, The Progressive, and on a regular basis in the Wichita Eagle. She also writes regularly at Everyday Citizen.

Her poetry has appeared in Midwest Quarterly, Mikrokosmos, Collage, Caprice, City Life, The Quill, and Coalition Connection: The Feminization of Poverty. She was awarded the American Academy of Poets Award in 1985 and first place award for her poem, "Somebody Is Always Watching," in the American Institute of Discussion Review.

Diane lives with her husband and two dogs in Midtown in Wichita. A native Kansan who has moved all over the Midwest, she has a BA degree, cum laude, in English from Western Michigan University, an MA in English from Pittsburg State University, and an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. She raised three sons as a single mother, and now has three wonderful daughters-in-law, and five entertaining grandchildren. Fortunately, they all live near enough that she can attend their music and drama performances and watch their soccer games.

We are fortunate that she has joined Kansas Free Press, the well-read citizen journalism project of Kansas!

Diane welcomes you to view her written words here.

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