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Jane’s Bio as it appeared on the Iditarod Website during 2007 – 2008.
Jane Blaile is from Christ Lutheran School in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. This is her 17th year teaching, having taught 4–8th grades over the years. Her bachelor’s degree in elementary education is from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL, and she holds a master’s degree with a specialization in gifted education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO. Currently she teaches 5th grade with an emphasis on science. What she loves about teaching is making learning fun and interesting for all learners, then seeing that “Aha!” moment when they discover something, figure out a problem, or achieve something new.
Jane has two daughters, 14 and 11; her husband works as a healthcare information technology consultant. They share their home with 4 cats and a dog. As a family, they love to travel, go camping, play games, have parties, swim, and see movies. In her free time, Jane enjoys gardening, hiking, riding her bike, and reading. She feels life should be experienced to its fullest and people should make a point of learning about the world and its people.
The excitement and adventure of the Iditarod is what first lured Jane into using it in her classroom. The value of using it became stronger as she saw that the Iditarod is the story of the Alaskan people, their spirit, their commitment, and their history. Jane uses the Iditarod throughout all the curricular areas in her classroom, from art to science, P.E. to writing. She encourages others to use the Iditarod in their classrooms as a tool to reach all learners.
“Although the Iditarod happens only once a year, it is a year long tale of practice and training, a lesson we can all learn from. The mushers compete in this race to accomplish something. I emphasize the power in that to my students: trying new things, accomplishing goals and doing your best at it.”
Join Jane, the tenth Teacher on the Trail™, as she expands the walls of her classroom to include this educational journey of a lifetime!
Jane wrote this article following her experience as Teacher on the Trail™.
Most of the ways I’ve benefited can’t be measured up against a standard or even a past teacher because they are so personal. When I reflect on who I’ve become over the past year, I’m amazed at and grateful for the challenge I’ve been given.
For example, since last February, I’ve read more than 8 books about Alaska, the Iditarod, Arctic adventure…for me, a working mom, reading 8 books of substance for leisure hasn’t happened in a long time. I have become a better teacher – I think about my lessons harder, I am more creative with my teaching, and I am very efficient. I enjoy going into my classroom every day feeling validated as an educator. Learning new teaching techniques and educational strategies has turned from drudgery to impetus. In my school community, I have become respected as a leader – something I didn’t dare allow myself to envision happening, but which makes sense to me now. I think beyond the walls of my classroom and how teachers everywhere love and serve their students as I do here. I have met people who know people I know or have met through my role as Teacher on the Trail and my love of the Iditarod and all things Alaskan. This Iditarod connection has literally brought people out of the woodwork to speak to me and support me in whatever way they can. My computer and other technology skills have blossomed. My public speaking skills have become better honed; even my writing has become more precise, descriptive, and powerful.
Personally, I have grown and improved myself as well. I feel empowered and bold in speaking to people. I feel as though I wear this invisible “stamp of approval” and serving as the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ has raised me up and given me purpose. As a mother, I’m more inspirational for my daughters, showing them that you aren’t ever too old to pursue your dreams or try something new. My husband is proud of me and shares my adventures with everyone we meet. I stand taller and walk more proudly with a big smile on my face.
In ways I probably can’t convey, serving as the Teacher on the Trail™ for the Iditarod 2008 has changed me and my life. It was what I needed at the time I needed it to happen. I love the Iditarod people I work with, who lift me up, who make me laugh, who affirm my wish for adventure and to step out of the box. And I’m proud and honored to work with the Iditarod in this way.
After the Trail…
(to be added soon)