The question I seem to be asked most commonly these days is how I got chosen to be this year’s Iditarod Teacher on the Trail ™…. Kids ask me, teachers ask me, old friends ask me…. So here’s the story!
Two years ago my teaching partner and wonderful friend Ellen Rizzuto and I applied for a grant from our school to travel to Minnesota to go to dog mushing school and then to attend the Iditarod Winter Conference for Educators and to see the start of the 2012 Iditarod. I had always taught the Iditarod as part of my curriculum – through changes in schools and changes in grade levels, the Iditarod was one constant in my teaching. It’s an amazing motivator for kids and an even better character development lesson. In anticipation of the trip ahead, Ellen joined my madness and we fleshed out and expanded my Iditarod math related activities to a full blown math unit to teach from January – March. I had found my partner in crime!
When we returned home from the conference, Director of Education, Diane Johnson emailed us to find out what our next step was. That’s when I started to seriously consider applying for the Teacher on the Trail program. I spent the summer compiling my binder full of application materials and sent them off that fall. It felt like a large part of my heart and soul went in the mail when I left the binders at the post office!
In January of 2013 I received a call that I had been selected as a finalist for the 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail! It was a whirlwind from there! I had about a month and a half to make plans to be in Anchorage for the 2013 Iditarod start and Teachers’ Conference! At the conference I had to make presentations, participate in challenge activities, volunteer for the race, and have several interviews. As I Skyped with my class from Alaska, they got more and more excited for me! They decided that “when” I got the call telling me I was selected, I wouldn’t be able to tell them while I was on the phone, so I should jump up and down so that they knew the answer was “YES!”
On April 2nd I got the call that I had been selected to be the 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail! Diane Johnson called me in my classroom! I must have jumped up and down because my class broke into cheers so loud I had to go out my outside back door to hear what she was saying! When I came back in, the kids were doing a conga line around the room chanting, “Teacher on the Trail! Teacher on the Trail!” And teachers, I guess hearing the commotion, had started coming from all down the hall.
And that brings us to today! I’m ready to fly out to start my grand adventure! Cross your fingers the snow in Baltimore doesn’t prevent me from getting my flight out! Next stop, Anchorage!!!