Teacher on the Trail™ 2017 Finalists

Hi Boys and Girls, Every year there is a special teacher who is selected as the Teacher on the Trail ™. This year Laura Wright from Austin, Texas will be will be flying from checkpoint to checkpoint reporting on the race for teachers and school children who are following the race. She also provides lessons for classroom use. It is a very exciting and important position. I bet you’re wondering how she became the Teacher on the Trail™? Well it starts a year earlier. Teachers can send in an application to the Iditarod Education Department. From those applications, three teachers are selected as finalists. The finalists fly to Alaska, participate in the teacher workshop, have an interview, write lesson plans, and attend the banquet, the start and the restart. After the race is over, one of these teachers is selected to be the next years Teacher on the Trail™. It’s going to be an exciting adventure for these three teachers. I was very lucky to be able to interview them. Presenting this years Teacher on the Trail™ finalists: annieAnnie Kelley Annie teaches 4th grade at Saint Andrew School in Chicago. She has been teaching for 7 years. When she’s not teaching she loves to run. She has finished 8 marathons! That’s amazing. I love to run too. Maybe she’ll let me run with her someday. She also teaches Irish dancing. In May she will graduate with her Masters degree. I asked Annie why she wanted to be the Teacher on the Trail™. She said, “because I see the Iditarod as the ultimate teaching tool which can be incorporated into all subject matters, while motivating reluctant learners, enriching advanced learners, and allowing students to experience a culture far moved from their own.” Don Thomas Don teaches 4th grade at Dexter Southfield School in Brookline MA. He has been teaching there for 23 donyears. Don has a lot of responsibilities at the school. He writes and directs public speaking programs for the students and creates and presents assembly talks. He has also been responsible for the schools Iditarod Educational Program for the past 15 years. This program helps students explore the values in the race both in the classroom and through other presentations. He has also coached the High School boys varsity Lacrosse team. Don possesses a great spirit of adventure and a lifelong love of the outdoors. Due to this, he has planned and led overnight hiking and camping trips for boys in grades six through ten. He has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Alaska. WOW, what a busy guy! Why does Don want to be the Teacher on the Trail™? He said, “ There are a number of reasons. It would be the adventure of a lifetime! It would be an opportunity to expand my teaching experience while sharing the values of the Iditarod adventure with a much wider audience. “ Don will be an iditarider in Trent Herbsts’ (a fellow 4th grade teacher) sled during the Ceremonial Start. He is really looking forward to an exciting ride. Dana Tuyls DanaDana teaches 5th grade in Fountain, Colorado. This is her 6th year teaching. Before moving to Colorado, Dana lived in Wisconsin where she was a Special Education Teacher. Guess what she did while she was in college! She was a wrangler on a dude ranch in Colorado. How cool is that? She has always loved training and working with animals. In her free time she mountain bikes, goes horseback riding, snowboards and runs. She shares these activities with her dog Dixie. That’s one lucky dog. Here is Dana’s response to my question on why she wanted to be the Teacher on the Trail™: “ I can’t say enough about why I would LOVE to be Iditarod’s Teacher on the Trail™. Throughout my career in education I have worked to inspire both teachers and students everyday. I have seen first hand the impact that integration of the Iditarod into a classroom has had on my students, and would love the opportunity to share that with teachers throughout the world. Being creative and innovative with my curriculum and lessons is something that I have been extremely successful at. I can’t wait to travel to Alaska for the finalist selection and network with teachers from around the world.” These sound like three really cool teachers. Do you have a teacher that you think could be Teacher on the Trail™? If so, tell them to apply and maybe next year I’ll be writing about them. Happy Trails, Gypsy