Jen began her teaching career in 1993 in public schools and moved to the independent schools in 2000. She holds an undergraduate degree from Towson University with dual majors in Early Childhood Education and Dance Performance, Education, and Choreography and a MA from Johns Hopkins University in Gifted Education.
She began using the Iditarod as a teaching tool as soon as she began teaching! Initially it was a way to introduce her students to a place and pastime different from anything they would ever experience in their urban lifestyles. As she began to see the benefits to her students, her passion, interest, and dedication to the race grew and developed. Through changes in grade levels and schools, the Iditarod has remained one constant in her teaching. In the winter of 2012, she and her teaching partner were awarded a grant to travel to the Wintergreen Lodge in Minnesota to learn the art of mushing. They also traveled to Alaska to attend the Iditarod Winter Conference for Teachers and experience the start of the race. That trip planted the seed that become her desire to serve as the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.
Currently teaching third grade, the Iditarod is deeply infused in her curriculum and reaches its apex in a nearly three month math curriculum centered on the sport of mushing and the Iditarod. The Iditarod is a natural fit for her boys and all students – dogs, adventure, and racing – what else could anyone ask for? It is also the perfect way for her students to be exposed to the character development ideals of honor, integrity, respect, humility and excellence.
Jen has always had a bit of the adventurer spirit in her, her summer jobs have included working on archaeological digs in southwest Utah and a shark research lab in the Bahamas! Following the racers down the trail would allow her to appease her inner explorer while sharing the amazing experience with teachers, students and their families all around the world!
* Jennifer will begin her job as the 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ in June when she arrives in Alaska to continue her training and to be a staff member at the 2013 Summer Camp for Educators to be held June 22- 30. Jennifer will provide a preview of her plans to facilitate educators around the world in guiding students to academic success in school through the use of Iditarod based lessons and activities.
Beginning in June, Jen will begin to update the Teacher on the Trail™ website and provide monthly information to educators. Lessons and activities and Jen’s journal will be housed on the website and will inspire educators to follow Jen throughout the school year and the race challenging students to meet their academic goals. During the race, Jen will travel by small plane to checkpoints along the Iditarod Trail, observing, volunteering, photographing, recording, and sharing the experience to classrooms and race fans around the globe. Iditarod is a tool that enhances teaching and learning. It’s a vehicle that leads students down a trail of experiences that results in academic success. This year’s ‘leader’ in bringing the race to classrooms around the world is Jen Reiter.
*The Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ program began in 1999 after ‘Finney’ shared this unique teaching concept with Iditarod Trail Committee. Learn more.
*Applications for Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ are due December 1 of each year. Three finalists are chosen to continue in the selection process. Meet the three finalists, Susan Smith, Shannon Wyckoff and Jennifer Reiter by following this link and by reading this article. It is with great appreciation that we thank the finalists for their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm in using the Iditarod as a tool in their classrooms. Although not selected, Susan and Shannon are testimonial figures in the world wide recognition that Iditarod based lessons and activities greatly enhance classroom instruction and impact student success. We congratulate Susan and Shannon for their contributions and commend them for their dedication to student success. Learn about this year’s selection process by reviewing articles written by this year’s finalists at this link.