Iditarod Inspiration


Puppy walks!

The last two days at summer camp have been quite exciting.  We’ve listened to presenters, gone on puppy walks, and enjoyed getting to know one another.  However, besides the adorable puppies, there have been two parts that have stuck out to me.

First, Jeff Schultz, official Iditarod photographer, visited us and taught us his best practices of taking pictures, along with sharing his many stories from the trail.  Jeff has been volunteering his photography skills to the race for over 35 years, so his passion and knowledge for the race were truly an inspiration to all of us.


Jeff Schultz teaching the campers how to take great pictures.

Then, we had a surprise guest visit us before dinner last night.  Larry Daugherty, first time finisher this year, stopped by to share his story with all of us.  Larry explained that his love for the Iditarod began when he was ten years old when his grandmother would send him articles about the race from Alaska.  Larry followed his dream to Alaska, with his family in tow, and completed the 2016 Iditarod (despite taking his dogs in the wrong direction towards the beginning of the race).

One person Larry spoke to us about was his high school debate coach, Mike Burton.  Coach Burton helped Larry overcome obstacles, and made him feel as if he could achieve his dreams.  It reminded me that by using the Iditarod in our classrooms we are making an impact on our students and teaching them the importance of dreaming big and working hard to make their dream a reality.  As we say often up here, the Iditarod is more than just a race… it is a powerful teaching tool which inspires our students to work hard to reach their goals.


Larry Daugherty with the teachers at summer camp.


Greetings from the Windy City


The Chicago skyline from Ping Tom Park in Chinatown

I am so excited to be the 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™!  I teach 4th grade at Saint Andrew School in Chicago, and I will be starting my eighth year this fall.  I teach math, social studies, language arts, and religion.  Besides teaching at Saint Andrew I also run an after school Irish dance program and help with the cross country team.


Ice climbing on Root Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

I am a born and raised Chicagoan; however I love being in nature whenever I can!  I enjoying camping, hiking, kayaking, and I’ve just started to get into backpacking.  Running is also a passion of mine.  I have completed 8 marathons, including the Anchorage marathon last year.  Over the next year I plan on “running” the Iditarod trail (1,049 miles of running!).  My adventurous bone has led me to many beautiful places including the San Juan Islands, Smoky Mountains, and a month long trip to Alaska.  Needless to say, I am extremely grateful and excited to travel down the Iditarod trail in March.


Hiking in Minnesota with a pup friend

The last few days have been quite exciting up here in Alaska.  Teacher Summer Camp is underway and the group will be spending the next few days at Vern Halter’s Dream-a-Dream Dog Farm in Willow, AK.  The teachers will be treated to presentations by 2015 Red Lantern winner Cindy Abbott, mushing veteran Deedee Jonrowe, photographer Jeff Shultz, and many more Iditarod favorites.  Stay tuned for updates throughout the week!

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My family and I after completing the Chicago Marathon in 2015