Off to the Races

A Gilman teacher travels to Alaska for the Iditarod.

Jennifer Reiter has been tricking her third graders. Since she started teaching at Gilman in 2000, she has used the Iditarod dogsled race as a part of her curriculum.

“It’s a natural fit with boys, who are excited about dogs and adventure,” she says. “They think it’s fun, but really they are learning math and geography.”

This month, Reiter travels to Alaska for the Iditarod’s “Teacher on the Trail” program, where she will Skype and blog ( for students nationwide.

“The race itself will be fascinating,” says Reiter, who learned how to dogsled in Minnesota. “But I’m also excited to see these remote parts of Alaska.”

Reiter, 43, went through a rigorous application process and travels to Anchorage on February 14, where she will follow the Iditarod trail for five weeks, first riding a dogsled for 17 miles and then flying to checkpoints by bush plane.

“There has been talk of eating things like muktuk—whale blubber,” she says. Most of all, Reiter is excited to share her insights with her students back at Gilman. “Most mushers don’t enter the race to win,” she says. “It’s more to challenge yourself, which is a great character lesson for the kids.”

Issue date: February, 2014
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