Program Outreach and Data

Mission Statements  and Program Information for Teacher on the Trail™

Mission Statement: Teacher on the Trail™ is an ‘Adventure Learning’ technology based project that provides opportunities for educators to focus on literacy, core content curriculum, life skills, and technology and to bring researched based teaching and learning to classrooms in the United States and around the world. 

Literacy (reading readiness, reading instruction, reading for pleasure, writing/communication) and technology skills are core elements in this unique approach to integration of the Iditarod into academic instruction.  Literacy is like the runners of sled.  The sled is filled with the ‘other content areas’ of instruction.  When the sled moves along the learning trail swiftly, on good runners, the ‘items in the sled’ are used at a more successful level.

 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ program:

  • Enhances education by selecting a highly qualified educator each year to advance the objectives and goals of the Teacher on the Trail Program and promote the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race as a teaching tool. (Selection process information can be found at this link.)
  • Develops and Support Projects to Encourage Reading Readiness and Reading Strategies for the Early Reader and Stronger Skills for the Readers and Writers of all ages. (Additional information is found at this link.)
  • Empowers Students for Academic Success by providing teachers with standards aligned curriculum connections for reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and all other content areas.
  • Emphasizes Best Practices of Teaching and Learning.
  • Maintains a focus on common core standards
  • Technology integration is a focal point for Teacher on the Trail, teachers following the race, and for students in the classroom.  Technology is a teaching and a communications tool as well as a tool for students to use during the learning process.


  • Provide teachers with standards aligned lessons
  • Provide students with pre-reading and reading opportunities and connections
  • Provide material to read and/or books to students: Books to the Trail project, On Line Journal
  • Provide inspirational programs that encourage reading: Idita Reads, Iditarod Reading Nights at School, Read Across the Iditarod Trail
  • Provide teachers, students, and race fan with unique opportunities to transition the learning experiences to their own location and specific needs such as: reading, writing, environmental awareness, communication skills, and community based learning projects
  • Provides opportunity to develop stronger science, technology, engineering, math, social studies, and other content skills including character education and life skills.


  • survey
  • program evaluations
  • verbal communications
  • written communications
  • website analytics

Our Customers:  Teachers, Students

Teachers in all 50 states and many foreign countries use Iditarod as a teaching tool.

Teacher Conferences in Alaska

Summer Camp Teacher’s Event: (Held June each year.  50% of participants eventually apply for Teacher on the Trail™ within a 3 year period)

  • 2008: 11
  • 2009:  6
  • 2010:  12
  • 2011:  7
  • 2012:  21

Winter Workshop (Feb/March prior to the start of the race)

* 20 – 30 teachers on average attend this event each year, with 65 attending in 2012.  The ‘Finalists’ for the ‘next’ Teacher on the Trail™ and the current  Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ are speakers at the event and the Teacher on the Trail program is a focal point at the winter conference.  During the summer camp, about 50 % of attendees intend to apply for Teacher on the Trail in the future, thus that event is a training piece for Teacher on the Trail and future applicants.

Teacher on the Trail School Visits and Presentations:

2008: Jane Blaile

In Alaska:

  • 12 schools in the MatSu and Anchorage School District, Nome school presentation,home school presentation in Anchorage

In Arizona and other locations: (2008, 2009, 2010)

  • Elementary and secondary schools, community church groups, teacher’s workshops in AZ, CA, Community organizations/clubs
  • 2010 (Oct) We will be hosting Target® Teacher on the Trail workshop in Phoenix

2009:  Cathy Walters

In Alaska:

  • February/March 2009, 12 Schools in the MatSu and Anchorage School district, about 3000 students/faculty/homeschool family members
  • June 2009:  Presentation with Herb Brambley at Anchorage Summer School Program

North Carolina:

  • Elementary and Secondary schools, retirement communities, nursing home, local community organizations

2010:  Herb Brambley

In Alaska

  • June 2009:  Herb and Cathy Walters, Summer School Program
  • February/March 2010: 11 School visits:  Wasilla, Palmer, Big Lake= 5 Schools, Anchorage 6 schools,  and students along the Iditarod Trail and in Nome,  about 3000 total students

Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Fall 2009, Winter/Spring/Summer 2010, school and community visits included:

  • Summer 2009, Trail to Every Classroom representing Iditarod and worked with teachers from Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina on the project (80 people)
  • (75 people) Fulton County, Pennsylvania Chapters of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority
  • (25 people)  Breezewood Elementary
  • (60 individuals) Daughters of the American Revolution
  • 475 Students, Southern Fulton Elementary School (35 Teachers)
  • 40 at Summer Reading Program, Fulton County Library
  • 50  at Boy Scouts, Bedford County
  • 70 at Mid State Trail Association Fund Raiser
  • 80 at National Parks Trail to Every Classroom Summer Teachers Program 2010
  • Still to Come – Gettysburg Summer School, PA Sled Dog Club, Bedford Rotary Club, Everett Paws in the Park
  • Still to Come – Gettysburg Summer School, PA Sled Dog Club, Bedford Rotary Club, Everett Paws in the Park
  • Will be presenting September, 2010, at an Iditarod Teacher’s Workshop in MI

Teacher on the Trail Applications:

  • 2008:  7
  • 2009:  12
  • 2010:  6
  • 2011:  8
  • 2012:  6

* The application process is a 2 – 3 year process, with selection of the ‘next’ teacher finalized in April of each year.  Thus applicants for a ‘year’ are in effect, applying for the teacher the following year.

Our Teacher on the Trail™:  Job Description Summary

  • Serves as the “leader” in creating curriculum aligned to national standards, developing projects and connections for schools and home school families for the website, and via Internet.
  • Shares in ‘real time’ specific observations and personal experiences with the world before the race, during the race while flying with the Iditarod Air Force bush plane pilots, from checkpoint to checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail, as well as after the race.  (1 Year term)
  • While in communities along the trail, the Teacher on the Trail™ is a good will ambassador for the race and the Teacher on the Trail™ Program, as well as a teacher– sharing the ‘Teacher’s Message’ when possible.

For a full year, before, during, and after the race, the ‘Teacher’

  1. Maintains a section of the Iditarod website and provides curriculum and journal entries.  (literacy, math, science, social studies, and other areas of the curriculum)
  2. Develops projects and curriculum connections which reflect that teacher’s expertise and goals.
  3. Provides presentations in the teacher’s school/community/state/and/or region that are designed to share the race, the Iditarod Education Department goals, the teacher’s own educational project and goals, and shares the Target® messages.  Target® is the sponsor of this program.
  4. Exemplifies the Teacher on the Trail™ Program, the sponsor, the teaching profession, and Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Prior to the start of the race once arriving in Alaska, the Teacher:

  1. Visits schools and presents programs for students in Alaska.
  2. Shares experiences and observations of Alaska and the pre-race activities, posting these experiences, observations, and lesson connections to the website
  3. Represents the Teacher on the Trail™ program and the race at events, provides interviews to media, presents at the Teacher’s Conference and other functions

During the race, the Teacher

  1. Visits the checkpoints and communities along the Iditarod Trail and shares the ‘Teacher’s   Message’ to students, teachers, and community members to promote the race and quality teaching and learning
  2. Observes all aspects of the race/checkpoint/community, reports the observations  connecting those observations and experiences to the curriculum, reporting them on the website as well as to students/teachers along the way as possible/appropriate.
  3. Uses technology as a vehicle to bring the race to teachers, students, and race fans.

After the race, the Teacher

  1. Assists in program evaluation and summaries the experience in a variety of ways.  (website, journal, presentations, etc.)
  2. Remains an important team member and Teacher on the Trail alumni

Who Follows the ExxonMobil Teacher on the Trail™?

* Educators in all 50 states, many countries around the world, and on all continents

* Thousands and thousands of students, preschool — through university level complete Iditarod related school projects to practice their skills in reading, writing, and other content areas of instruction.

* Private Schools, Public Schools, and Home School Families use the race in their studies.

* Preschool teachers use the race to help develop readiness and reading skills

* Elementary, Middles School, and High School Students are involved in thematic instruction with the race in all content areas.

* University professors use the race to inspire students to research, read, write, and use real-time math data from this event to gain academic skills.

* Special Education students are empowered to read more and learn academic skills. Children who are non-English speaking gain skills in speaking English, writing, and reading.

* After school programs and summer camps use the race as motivational and learning tools.

* Retirement communities and rehab facilities have used the race to inspire residence and patients to achieve therapeutic goals.


Students served by this project are from all learning environments. Public, private, and home school situations as well as university level teachers –use the race as a theme for content connections. Preschool students, elementary, middle school, high school, and university students who are in general education course instruction or who are in the field of teacher education are involved in our projects.

Special education students, English as second language, foreign language classes, behavior problem programs and schools, as well as other specialized areas of instruction are included in our projects. Diversity, multicultural, global, are words that could perhaps be defined within our projects and our communications. Thousands and thousands of students are involved on our projects, from all walks of life, from all ability levels, age levels, under the guidance of thousands of teachers.

Reading, writing, and every area of instruction can be addressed through our projects. Our outreach is from preschool through university level and to our cherished elders and includes all cultural groups.

Following the race is but a small part of our curriculum as students develop a focus on national questions as well as global questions ranging from global warming, to saving planet earth, to improving reading and math scores.

Teacher on the Trail is not a ‘two week’ program, nor is it simple a year-long program.  Teachers who use the race in their classrooms have discovered that this theme enhances classroom education and empowers students to be academically successful, develop essential character traits, be better readers, and become lifelong learners.

Our program is unique because it is not limited to one unit of study, one semester or one year.

It is year round and it applies to all learners ages 0 -100.

As 2006 Teacher on the Trail, Terrie Hanke states, “Teacher on the Trail isn’t a 365-day adventure. It continues for a lifetime.” The uniqueness of the Target Iditarod Teacher on the Trail program is that it reaches all cultures, all ages, all curriculum areas, not only in formal and home school environments, but in environments outside the school setting.

The ExxonMobil Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ program receives a variety of media coverage.  For more information, visit this link. (Or view a PDF document highlighting media coverage.)