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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.

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

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.”