The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 7, 2014

Camanche teacher is living a dream

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CAMANCHE — Erin Montgomery is living her dream. After nearly a year worth of research and work, she is the 2015 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.

The Camanche Middle School social studies teacher faced off against two other qualified candidates in the final round of the competition in January, and on March 28, she received the call of a lifetime, surrounded by her students.

“I was kind of silent at first, kind of a bunch of excitement but not able to believe it all at the same time,” Montgomery said. “I think (the students) could tell by the look on my face and then they started cheering so I had to go out in the hall to finish talking.”

While she is thrilled with the accomplishment and opportunity, Montgomery admits that the reality of winning the competition still hasn’t quite set in.

She doesn’t think that time will come until she arrives in Alaska in June to begin her duties as the teacher on the trail.

Those duties will include blogging about her experiences, writing lesson plans based on the Iditarod and visiting schools in Alaska, sharing her information on the famous dog race.

All of that preparation leads up to her actual attendance to the race in February 2015, a time when she and Camanche Middle School Principal Justin Shaffer are both looking forward to but also feeling nervous about.

“There’s a lot of different things going through my head right now,” Shaffer said. “The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we’re going to have for Erin and the kids is really coming true. Now, I’ve got to figure out how we’re going to put someone in her place, obviously she does a great job and her work ethic and all of those types of things speak for themselves just even putting forth the effort to apply. Now, I’ve got to find someone to fill that role for the amount of time that she’s going to be gone.”

That time will be from February to March when Montgomery will take part in the race, a time that she plans to Skype with her students at least once a week, keeping them updated on her status in Alaska and sharing stories she hears along the trail.

Offering that insight to her students and the entire school is why she and Shaffer felt this opportunity couldn’t be passed on, and why both pushed so hard to make it a reality.

“This really is a community based accomplishment,” Shaffer said. “We can all learn from this experience and we need to take full advantage of this and make this as valuable as possible.”