Otsego teacher uses passion of Iditarod as fun lesson tool in classroom


    FILE- A long-time dream to see a famous dog race in person came true for one Otsego school teacher. (WWMT/MGN Online)

    A long-time dream to see a famous dog race in person came true for one Otsego school teacher. Cindy Cramer decided to take time off from the classroom to see the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.

    The annual race stretches more than a thousand miles between Anchorage and Nome, and takes up to 12 days to finish.

    Newschannel 3 caught up with Cramer before her trip to Alaska. Cramer said she has followed the popular sport for 40 years and has taught her students about it for the last 25.

    “We learn about the region, the geography, we do math related to the Iditarod—they have to count the miles that the mushers have gone, how many they have left to go,” said Cramer.

    “We’ve been learning all about the mushers and we’ve been learning how to track them. We’ve been learning about the dogs,” said Kassandra Lafler, Cramer’s student.

    The second grade teacher at Dix Street Elementary School said the trip to Alaska could help bring her classroom lessons to life. She said she has never experienced anything like the Iditarod in person before.

    “I’m very excited, I am. It’s all I’ve been really thinking about lately,” said Lafler.

    Cramer said she’s not competing in the race, but mentioned watching from the sidelines is enough. She planned to attend the start of the race in Anchorage, visit checkpoints in various villages in between and end at the finish line in Nome.

    “The dogs are such trained athletes and they are really the stars. They are really the stars of the Iditarod and they love to run and I’m just so anxious to see them,” said Cramer.

    Prior to the start of the race, Cramer said there is a week-long teachers conference.

    “They are going to share with us ways to incorporate the Iditarod into our curriculum,” said Cramer. “I am anxious to get with other educators that have the same passion to see what they do.”

    Cramer said she hopes the experiences will bring new energy to her classroom.

    “I’m hoping that Skype will work and FaceTime and all of that. I can videotape and put them into a Google drive, so the kids can see the things they’re really interested in,” said Cramer.

    Cramer thanked the Otsego Public School District for allowing her time off to fulfill the life-long dream.

    Connect with Franque Thompson on Facebook and Twitter.

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