Congratulations to these 3 educators! The Iditarod Education Department has selected them to be the finalists for the 2024 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™️. Each year, teachers from around the world apply for this honor starting with a portfolio submission, due December 1. This portfolio takes months to compile because it includes showcase lessons, experiences and background that are helpful to performing the tasks of the Teacher on the Trail™️, letters of support from districts and administrators, a video introduction, many answers to important situational questions, and more. It is a candidate’s opportunity to put their “best boot forward” in hopes of being selected to continue the process.
Each member of the committee reviews and scores each application. These scores provide a rank for the applicants. But it is not just the score that determines the choice. The committee meets to discuss their perspectives on the strengths and possibilities of each applicant based on the their professional knowledge of the role of Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™️. The selected three have now “nudged the door open” a bit further and are invited to place their boots on the ground in Alaska the week before the upcoming race for the next round of competition. Here is where they work with Iditarod education committee members, present at the educators conference, and do “assignments” so to speak.
Join us in congratulating and welcoming these three finalists who have accepted the challenge and are on their way to Alaska for the next round of their application process. Meet our finalists for the 2024 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™️ through the bios and photos they sent in their applications. (in alphabetical order by last name)
Andrea Cox is a middle school teacher in South Beloit, Illinois. Over the past 13 years she has worked with all grade levels from 1st through 8th grade, in both special and general education. She has taught 6th and 7th grade for the past seven years, specifically teaching ELA the past four years. When she is not lesson planning and grading essays, some things you may find her doing are spending time with her family & friends, reading, paddleboarding, going to concerts, and always looking for the next best sunrise or sunset. Andrea has a rescue pit bull named Rex, who she is pretty sure would make a great wheel dog, if only he had thicker fur and some team spirit. She also has a rescue cat named Zula.
In November 2017, Andrea became involved with important work that led to her founding and becoming the Chair of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization within her community. Her nonprofit works to support first responders, for which she dedicates much of her time. This work and what led to it is a defining chapter of her life.
A decade ago, while teaching 4th grade, Andrea’s co-teaching partner suggested they learn about and teach a unit about the Iditarod, which sparked an instructional passion for a unit and topic that she looks forward to introducing students to each year. Together, they created a multi-week, cross-curricular unit that they presented about at the Illinois Reading Council’s Reading Conference in October 2017. After starting a savings fund in 2016 to one day get to Alaska to see the Iditarod, they finally made that dream come true and were able to be at the Educators Conference and the starting line of the 50th Iditarod in 2022. Being a part of the 2022 conference is what officially pushed her to apply to be the Teacher on the Trail for 2024.
Keeli Cullen I was born and raised in rural Vermont, in the town of Bradford, and traveled throughout the state frequently as a child to visit family in even more remote parts of the state. Including my Grandfather’s home in East Concord. My Grandfather instilled in me a deep love of the outdoors, hiking, snow shoeing, learning about the native ecology and caring for the environment. All things I continue to do today.
Kate Newmyer I was born 50 years ago and have lived in eight states. When I was a child, I loved being outside in the summer, and grew up camping, hiking, biking, and sailing with family and friends. As I grew older, music, art, textiles, and languages enhanced these pursuits. I studied Greek, Latin and art history in college, including a semester in Rome. I began my art career as a Registrar with the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, where I took care of the collection and collection records. When I met my husband, I moved to rural Colorado. Together we completed a water well service project in Mozambique West Africa.