Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ 2015 Finalists

Hi Boys and Girls

Did you know that every year a teacher is selected to be the Teacher on the Trail ™? That special teacher flies from checkpoint to checkpoint following the race and reporting what they learn on the trail. They also provide lessons for classroom use during the entire school year. It’s a very important and exciting position. To select the teacher each year,  3 teachers are  named finalists and travel to Alaska for interviews, be a part of the teachers workshop, complete some assignments, and watch the start and restart of the race.  I’m really jealous and wish I could go with them.  While I can’t be with them in Alaska, I did get to talk to each of them and find out a little about their goals and what they expect to learn on this great adventure they are getting ready to go on.  Here is the information on the teachers who applied for the 2015 Teacher on the Trail™.

 Erin Montgomery



Erin is from Camanche, Iowa and teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies.  She coaches volleyball, basketball, and tennis.  She also organizes the 8th grade trip to Philadelphia and Washington DC.  She sure is a busy person!  She just finished her first marathon in September.  Do you know what a marathon is?  She also enjoys playing with her dogs Dixon and Chili, reading and playing the piano.

Erin loves to travel (just like me).  She has traveled throughout Europe and this past summer she attended the Iditarod Summer Teacher camp.  This experience helped her decide to begin this journey.

I asked Erin, if she was chosen, what would her goals be.  This is her response:

“If chosen as 2015 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™  I will strive to bring the passion, history, and culture of this race to classrooms in my community, state, country, and across the globe.   

My main personal goal on this journey is to enhance myself as a person and an educator. I feel in this journey already I have learned a great deal about myself. I feel if selected as 2015 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™  I will discover much more about myself that I did not know. This race teaches us perseverance, determination, courage, heart, love, integrity, service, survival, and so much more. I am excited to incorporate this in my lifestyle as well as in my classroom and classrooms across the world.”

 Mark Poulterer

Mark grew up in Pennsylvania but has lived in Illinois for the past 17 years.  He teaches English to students from other countries.  That sounds fascinating. 



Mark lived in Fresnillo Mexico for 4 years, where he was a founding member of Christ for Children International.  After that he went to graduate school in Illinois and has been there ever since.  Mark is married and has two daughters.

Mark started using the Iditarod in the classroom and realized he had “struck an educational goldmine.”  Mark said that “even with limitied English proficiency, his students were excited about following the race.  It was an excellent way to hook them on just about any educational topic that met the curricular requirements in my classroom. 

When asked about his goals if picked as TOTT ™ Mark said, “ As Teacher on the Trail ™ I would love to continue to make this curriculum accessible to students from other language groups and cultures.  There are so many rich lesson plans already created and on the website.  One of my goals would be to help expand the audience that takes advantage of this program. 




Shannon Wyckoff

Shannon is from Ohio and teaches Senior Project, Biology, and students with multiple disabilities at Willard High School.  She loves to learn new things and experience new adventures to incorporate them into her classroom. 

Shannon has had some great adventures.  She has spent the day with a Top Fuel Dragster racing team, getting her black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has lived in the Alaskan Bush.  This year her classroom has skyped with a scientist on a glacier in Iceland, marine biologists from the U.K. and will soon skype with a scientist living 63 feet below sea level.  What an exciting classroom she has. 

Shannon was a finalist last year also.  During her time in Alaska she was a race volunteer, a dog handler and worked in race stats.  Her favorite experience was skyping with two different classrooms while at Iditarod Headquarters for the vet check.  She said there was nothing like seeing the start of the Iditarod in person.

I asked Shannon about her goals.  She said, “ I want to bring this amazing adventure to classrooms all around the world and share how my classroom uses the Iditarod to learn about math, science, social studies and language arts.  My goal as the Teacher on the Trail ™ would be to submerse myself in the experience of a lifetime as I take students and teachers along for the ride!  I think the Teacher on the Trail ™ is a truly unique position that allows the teacher to share in the inspiration that makes the Iditarod the Last Great Race on Earth!” 

 What incredible teachers.  Congratulations and good luck to all of them.

 See you on the trail,