Kate Newmyer – 25th Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™

Kate Newmyer 2024 Teacher on the Trail

Kate Newmyer as Libby Riddles for Reader’s Theater

Iditarod EDU welcomes Kate Newmyer as the 25th Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  Currently Kate teaches 5th grade language arts and social studies in the Clear Creek ISD, in Texas.  Her teaching experience is broad and includes music education, university art history adjunct professor, home school educator, and museum curator and she holds two master’s degrees in education. Newmyer serves on several committees for her school district and is an adult leader and merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts of America.

Kate shares how she came to use sled dogs as a theme for education in her classroom, “Iditarod sled dogs are endlessly fascinating to me, and that’s where I ground my love of the race. In 2018, I met sled dogs at Denali National Park. After hearing Blair Braverman talk about her dogs and share images on Twitter, I had to find out more! I started teaching about the Iditarod, and now the Iditarod is woven into practically everything we do in my classroom. Something I appreciate about my students year after year is that they love dogs just as much as I do. This shared love is a connecting point for us.

Recently as a presenter for the Iditarod EDU Summer Conference, Kate revealed her themes for the coming year. Her posts will fall into three categories that are listed below.  She’ll share ideas on how to use Iditarod as a theme beginning day one of the school year while still adhering to the district curriculum and state essential knowledge and skills.  Read on to get an idea of what Kate will be sharing in her articles that will come out three times each month.

Lesson Plans

I was first motivated to incorporate the Iditarod into my classroom after listening to an interview with Blair Braverman, Iditarod musher and writer. Her book, Dogs on the Trail: A Year in the Life is the inspiration for my lesson plan calendar.  Braverman describes a typical year of working and living with her dogs. She shares their personalities and the love she and her husband have for the dog mushing life. Lessons for each month will follow the adventures and ideas Braverman shares in this book. The lessons will take inspiration from exploring with new puppies, training, preparing for race day, mandatory gear, wildlife encounters, and life in Alaska, among other topics. I will be creating lessons for history, science, writing, art, and math, and will try to incorporate adaptations for multiple grade levels.

Classroom Culture

I love using the Iditarod in my classroom in fun and even silly ways. Classroom Culture posts will encourage teachers to have fun with the Iditarod and incorporate it into their classroom to build shared culture and citizenship.” 

Houston, We Have a Connection

I live ten minutes from NASA’s Johnson Space Center. JSC is the hub of human space flight research and development, and our area is home to many astronauts. The more I ponder, the more I see many fun parallels between space flight and racing the Iditarod. You’ll get some insight into our local space culture and how the Iditarod shares many traits.

Excited to be the lead teacher for the 2024 Iditarod, Kate Says, “Taking on the role of 2024 Teacher on the Trail™ is like when the sled dogs see the equipment coming out, they get their harness and place on the line, and they are excited to go!  It is humbling and thrilling to be asked to go on this great adventure.  I will do my part to share about the Iditarod and its history, people, amazing dogs, and the Alaska way of life through the lens of a teacher.  Thank you for coming along on this journey with me.”

While welcoming Kate, we thank Juli Westrich who served as the 2023 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.  Juli, an elementary librarian and museum educator, brought the Iditarod to classrooms around the world using her skills in object based learning.  Her lesson plans, SEL Snacks and Library Learnings activities will remain available on the Iditarod EDU web page.  Many thanks for sharing Iditarod as the powerful theme for education that it is.  Countless numbers of students and teachers were energized, motivated and engaged through your tireless efforts.  Congratulations on a job well done.