Adventure and personal challenge have always been at the top of Blynne Froke’s to do list. It seems like she has been on the go her whole life. Blynne was born in Canada and immigrated to California with her family. When he father was sent to Venezuela for work, Blynne went along to start high school. It took seventeen years and three states to complete her college education, but she never gave up, finally starting her teaching career at 35. Summer 2007 found her back in South America working with her brother in Bolivia and spring 2011 she explored China with her oldest daughter. For the last thirty years though Blynne has called rural northern California home where she raised two beautiful daughters with husband, Mike, and an ever-growing menagerie of dogs, cats, goats, chicken and ponies. An active 4H leader, Blynne and her daughter raised a guide dog, which was a very rewarding experience.
After teaching English at the junior high level for almost 12 years, Blynne decided she was up for a real challenge and as is common in her life, an opportunity presented itself. Community Day School (CDS) is a contained “last chance” classroom for high school students that have been expelled. For nine years she taught everything from P.E. to Physics to British Lit. to reluctant teenagers and found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of he teaching life.
Challenge and Blynne’s new students seemed to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Her special mix of patience and passion seemed to work for many, but something more intense was needed to draw in these very needy students and she was on the search again. By chance, Blynne read a book about the Iditarod and shared it with her students. They shared her excitement. That was four years ago. What started as a half an hour read aloud turned into a cross-curricular thematic program around which the essential themes of goal-setting, planning, personal responsibility, problem solving and stewardship revolved. The mushers came alive as “Real life heroes,” in a struggle every bit as inspiring and challenging as their own struggle to graduate high school. It has found such fertile ground, that it graduated twice as many students from CDS than in previous years.
Blynne has embraced challenge not only in her professional life, but in her personal life as well. What started as a whim, “a couch to 5K running club,” turned into another great passion. Four years and a hundred pounds later, she has completed two half marathons and continues to train for distance events.
Last year saw more reductions in California’s education budget and following the “go where you are needed” call, Blynne returned to the high school to teach freshman and sophomore English. Maybe not so surprisingly, these classes also found an expanded curriculum using the Iditarod as students wrote up research papers on various aspects of competitive dog mushing and created cross-age teaching experiences for elementary students. These “Trail Buddies” were real heroes and are currently looking for other ways to engage elementary students in the Iditarod experience.
The adventure just keeps going as Blynne looks forward to a year as Target’s® Teacher on the Iditarod Trail™ and sharing the experience of the race and the remote villages of Alaska with students and teachers across the globe.
Blynne’s motto as always is “Challenge yourself and NEVER give up!”