Diane Johnson, 2000 Teacher on the Trail™

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Iditarod Teacher on the TrailTM 2000


    Diane Johnson     Aberdeen, South Dakota

Diane’s Notebook (Click here to view Diane’s messages and lesson ideas.)  to be updated soon.

Diane was born in Hendricks, Minnesota to Harvey and Delores Buchholz. She is the oldest of 6 children. She graduated from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD with a teaching degree in 1977.

She married Mark Johnson in 1976. They have 3 children: Melissa 19, Scott 16 and Michael 4.

She moved to Aberdeen, SD in 1976 and worked for 2 years at Dakota House – a half way house for troubled teens, before being hired by the Aberdeen School District as a 5th grade teacher at May Overby Elementry School, where she is still teaching.

Diane has been very involved in the Aberdeen Education Association serving as vice-president and then as President 2 years and is currently on the contract negotiations team. She is also active in in the South Dakota Education Association serving on various boards and committees.

She became interested in the Iditarod several years age when Vern Halter, originally from South Dakota, visited her school. She saw how excited the kids got over the dogs and the race and thought the Iditarod would be a great way to “hook” kids on learning as she puts it. Since then she has incorporated the Iditarod into all the subjects she teaches with great results.

She has also “hooked” hundreds of other teachers on the Iditarod thru seminars she gives and workshops she attends around the Midwest. She is available for presentations anywhere in the USA.

She is a big Minnesota Viking fan. Consequently most everything in her school room is purple. That is why the name Purple Palace has been given to her classroom.

Original website announcement:

Iditarod Trail Committee Appoints South Dakota Teacher for 2000

The Iditarod Trail Committee is proud to announce the selection of its second Iditarod Teacher on the TrailTM. Diane Johnson, a fourth grade teacher at May Overby School in Aberdeen, SD, was selected from over 15 applicants for the position.

The selection process included an extensive application process from which three finalist were chosen. The finalists were required to come to Alaska for the week of the start of Iditarod 1999 to have personal interviews and be observed under different circumstances. “It was a very difficult decision,” said selection committee chairperson, Wrex Diem after the announcement was made. “Each of the applicants was extremely qualified and had the personality and desire to be an excellent representative for the educational community and the Iditarod’s educational program.”

Diane has been using the Iditarod Race in her classroom for many years, she was first introduced to the sport when Vern Halter visited the Aberdeen area. Each year, Diane has added to her unit on the Iditarod and has incorporated the Iditarod into much of her present teaching style and units of study.

Diane Johnson was born and raised in Hendricks, MN. She and her husband Mark, have 3 children, Melissa, 18, Scott, 14 and Michael 2 and a half.

The Iditarod Trail Race has provided teachers around the world with a “hook” to grab their students’ interest. Students are enthusiastic about learning how to figure the amount of booties and dog food a mushers must have for his team. They learn to find checkpoints on the map; read books about the Arctic, Alaska, dog mushing and other winter activities. They learn about courage, sticking with your dreams and using teamwork.

Teachers wishing to apply for the 2001 Teacher on the Trail position should contact the Iditarod Trail Committee to request an application packet.


After the Trail….

(To be added later)

Photos of Diane