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Cold Mush: Serving Stories from the Iditarod Trail

Jeffrey M. Peterson of Minnesota, this year's Teacher on the Trail, is eager to experience the Iditarod and to share his observations and lessons with students around the world. Included: Information about Iditarod lessons.

Fourth grade teacher Jeffrey M. Peterson is getting away from the Minnesota winter for a month -- but he won't be getting any relief from frigid weather. Peterson, a teacher at Wilshire Park Elementary School in St. Anthony, Minnesota, plans to spend the time away from Minnesota in the Alaskan countryside as the Iditarod's 2004 Teacher on the Trail. He is the first male teacher to earn the title.

Equipped with a laptop and digital camera, Peterson will be collecting and sharing images and information from the race. This will help more than 5,000 elementary, middle, and high schools around the world follow the race.

Jeff Peterson and friend.

Peterson already has prepared a series of lesson plans pertaining to the Iditarod, which are available at Jeff's Index.

Shortly before mushing off, Peterson talked with Education World about his trip preparations and plans.

Education World: How did you first become interested in the Iditarod?

Jeff Peterson: I first became interested in the Iditarod in 1991. Jeff King was running his first Iditarod, and my family was in Florida on vacation. I can remember calling 1-800-SLEDDOG to get updates on the race. Now, I have a retired champion dog of his, Paris.

EW: Who or what inspired you to apply for the program?

For more Iditarod activities, see March Holidays.

Peterson: I guess it would have to be the students. Each year, the excitement and anticipation of this great race motivates children of all ability levels to learn. They learn more than just math and science in a hands-on way; they also learn about dreams, character, and perseverance in a hands-on way.

EW: What are you hoping students will learn from your experience?

Peterson: I hope students learn how important it is to dream, and how difficult and rewarding it is to follow that dream.

EW: How do you think the experience will make you a better teacher?

Peterson: I think the experience will give me an appreciation for diversity, culture, and character. All those things play a key role in the "Last Great Race on Earth."

EW: What types of lessons or activities are you developing in conjunction with the trip?

Peterson: I have developed lessons across the curriculum. I plan on updating those lessons from the trail.

"I think this experience will give me an appreciation for diversity, culture, and character. All of these things play a key role in the 'Last Great Race on Earth,'" says Jeff Peterson, the 2004 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.

EW: How did you prepare for the trip?

Peterson: I've always been an athlete and a lover of the outdoors, so I've pretty much just continued my normal approach to life and career.

EW: What are you most looking forward to about the trip?

Peterson: I'm most looking forward to meeting all the people the Iditarod touches. The opportunity to meet the volunteers, villagers, and mushers that make up this race will be great.

EW: What are you least looking forward to?

Peterson: The thing I'm looking forward to the least is being away from my six-month old daughter, Ellie, for one month.

This e-interview with Jeff Peterson is part of the Education World Wire Side Chat series. Click here to see other articles in the series.

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
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Links last updated 03/02/2012