The caring woman with two first names and no middle name


Physical Education teacher Mary Kate Dieter takes in some of the tourist sites over summer break. (Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Dieter)

By Sasha Baumgartner , Editor-in-Chief

From a hard workout to binging an enormous amount of true crime while cuddling with her dog, Georgia, Mary Kate Dieter, Physical Education teacher at West Chicago Community High School, leads an authentic life with two first names: 

“My whole life I’ve been ‘Mary Kate’, and my parents called me that. My mom told me I had two first names and no middle name,” Dieter said. 

Dieter with her family, including her husband, mother, father, brother and his partner. (Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Dieter)

Unsurprisingly, Dieter grew up playing many sports, in addition to participating in dance, cheer, and gymnastics. She found a love for gymnastics as a child and ended up picking that sport over others. Later in her childhood, she found a passion for softball and did more with cheer. In fact, in high school she was the cheer captain at St. Charles East High School.  

“My favorite memory of her is when she was the captain of the Varsity cheerleading team at St. Charles East. She was a great leader,” said former STCE teacher and now-friend Megan Payleitner.

In her younger years, Dieter was always involved in something, making her a very busy child, by her own admission. She claims she enjoyed her activities more than she did school.

“I did well, but was not naturally a smartie,” Dieter said. 

During her undergraduate years, she attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. While there, she participated in softball and the diving team. It was the sports and activities that really made her feel whole, and she felt she would make a great candidate for a job in the physical education field. 

“I wanted to teach PE since I was a junior in high school. Before that, I wanted to be a physical therapist, because with my sports, I had been in physical therapy most of my life. And then I was like, ’I don’t want to go to college for seven years, which is great for some people, but I wanted to get started with my life and I want[ed] to be involved with sports,” said Dieter. 

Dieter works hard at weightlifting, an activity she loves. (Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Dieter)

Now, Dieter is a teacher who prides herself on being involved with her students and wants to create a safe, welcoming environment for all students. In teaching PE, Dieter understands that she needs to boost and encourage students. 

In the mornings, Dieter can often be spotted outside the studio where she teaches Dance Technique and Dance Production. She welcomes students by the door, engaging them in conversations about music and pop culture. In return, students smile and joke around with her.

Dieter provides “a safe space where everyone is free to show their technique and help others grow a passion for the sport. Not just as a sport, but also an art,” junior Alexa Morales, a student in Dieter’s Dance Technique class, said. 

Colleagues are drawn to Dieter’s inviting personality as well.

“My favorite part about working with Ms. Dieter would definitely be getting uplifted each day by her upbeat and positive attitude,” Brittany Abdishi, a fellow P.E. teacher and friend of Dieter, said.

While Dieter has many friends and family members, her mom is her closest confidante.

“Well, other than my husband, my mom is like my number one. She will come to the school and we will have lunch in the parking lot,” said Dieter.  

Mary Kate Dieter with her husband, Cody Dieter, amidst the city skyline. (Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Dieter)

Dieter has been married to her husband, Cody Dieter, since 2019. They met at Orange Theory Fitness,where Dieter (Brooks at the time), was taking a class: Cody happened to be teaching that class. Long story short, they hit it off and ended up making it official a few months later. They have been married for three years and welcomed beloved dog Georgia in September of 2022. And now, there is now a fourth family member who is preparing for delivery in the summer of 2023. 

“What you see is what you get. Mary Kate will be open and honest, no matter what. It’s a breath of fresh air to hear the truth, whether it’s what you wanted to hear or not,” Cody Dieter said. 

Speaking of the truth, many may not know that Dieter has an itch for the darker side of humanity and life; consequently, she is drawn towards true crime podcasts and documentaries. Since she was in her early double digits, Dieter has found herself fascinated by true crime.

“I feel our society forces us to only share the good and keep the darker stuff hidden.  However, we can learn a lot from the dark stuff. When you hide the dark stuff, you might think you’re the only one going through it, but in reality, so many of us are having a shared experience and just not talking about it.  I’ve been drawn to the darker side of humanity since I was about twelve years old.  I was curious why darker things were always handled so secretively, when it’s really just another part of life that affects us all,” Dieter said. 

There is not a day that goes by in which Dieter cannot be found looking into new cases and listening to podcasts regarding true crime. Dieter always looks towards content that elevates the families’ voices of the criminal because she views that as the most concrete.  

“One of the most shocking things I’ve learned from consuming so much true crime content is that the issues in this community mirror the issues of our society as a whole. There are cases where race, religion, sexual orientation, and wealth have largely influenced the style of investigation, and even the conviction. Fortunately, this community is full of people who are determined to make sure we learn from previous mistakes and improve,” Dieter said.