2009-04-16 / Front Page

Brambley Iditarod Teacher On The Trail

Southern Fulton educator to lend teaching skills to "The Last Great Race on Earth"
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Herb Brambley -  Target 2010 Teacher on the Trail -  PHOTO BY JEFF SCHULTZ Herb Brambley - Target 2010 Teacher on the Trail - PHOTO BY JEFF SCHULTZ As a second-grade teacher at Southern Fulton Elementary, Herb Brambley would often make references to and utilize Alaska's famous Iditarod sled race as a teaching tool. Now serving as the environmental and technology teacher for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, Brambley continues to use the Iditarod, also known as the "Last Great Race on Earth," as a "vehicle to learning."

His efforts to incorporate the Iditarod into the district's curriculum, whether it is the history of Alaska and its native people, global warming and the future of the polar bear or math lessons based on time, temperature and mileage, have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month, Brambley was selected to serve as the "Target 2010 Teacher on the Trail" in conjunction with the upcoming March Iditarod.

In sharing the news of his selection that was narrowed from a group of approximately 10 applicants nationwide, Brambley said the process for selection got under way with a detailed application as well as a video about himself. Literally a jack-of-alltrades, Brambley's video included footage of several areas that encompass his daily life and extracurricular activities such as bike joring with his three huskies Lobo, Dexter and Lilly; blacksmithing; shoeing his mule; trimming and blazing trails; and shooting his musket as an avid re-enactor.

Southern Fulton teacher Herb Brambley, a member of the PA Sled Dog Club, gets a sled ride through the forest with help from his huskies Lobo, Dexter and Lilly. Southern Fulton teacher Herb Brambley, a member of the PA Sled Dog Club, gets a sled ride through the forest with help from his huskies Lobo, Dexter and Lilly. Along the way, Brambley participated in the organization's winter conference in Alaska where he was required to do a 50- minute presentation and submit to an intense interview. Brambley, 52, also completed a total of 11 writing assignments, which can be viewed online at the www.iditarod.com; performed various tasks or challenges while in Alaska; was observed for eight days on his interaction with others; and even attended dog-handling school.

While at the handling school, Brambley was fortunate to be paired up with rookie musher Kim Darst of New Jersey. Even though Darst was "scratched" from the 2009 race, Brambley recalls that she and fellow mushers, including three-year-winner Lance Mackey, were some of the most personable people he met along the trail.

Brambley, who resides in the Breezewood area with his wife, Jamie, the director of the Fulton County Library, edged out two competitors from Florida to claim the 2010 title. Not wanting to exclude his students from the ongoing process, the youngest members of Southern Fulton's student body have been fortunate to hear about Brambley's travels and could possibly get to directly talk to students from Alaska via the Internet during the 2010 Iditarod.

To the delight of his students as well as educators at the teacher's conference, Brambley has shared several tunes on the guitar he penned, including "Nine Days on the Trail," "Musher's Blues," and "God Must Be a Musher." He intends to have his guitar shipped to Alaska for the 2010 Iditarod, so he can share his talents with students and faculty as he is flown by bush plane to various schools and communities along the trail as a member of the Iditarod's educational team.

Back home, Brambley has provided his students with hands-on instruction on wilderness survival through the construction of emergency shelter built with sticks and leaves; given lessons on making electricity from the sun; and also offered students dog sled rides using his huskies. In return, students colored and decorated paper husky dogs for a wall picture to commemorate his becoming the next Teacher on the Trail.

Brambley is currently preparing for his third trip to Alaska, where he will undoubtedly share his wealth of knowledge on the Iditarod and possible curriculum suggestions with fellow educators at the summer conference. Armed with a computer disc containing valuable Web sites related to his 100 top picks for Internet sites dealing with the Iditarod and Alaska as well as lesson plans that include both technology and environmental awareness, Brambley is surely an inspiration to future candidates for the Target storesponsored Teacher on the Trail.

"Fun is the key to learning," concluded Brambley. "It puts adventure back into the classroom."

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