Combining traditional Alaskan Native learning with western education at one school means mixing math with dog mushing.
The school mushing program at Effie Kokrine Charter School combines Alaska’s state sport with required subjects. Math, social studies, and English are mixed into the study of dog mushing and it’s influence on Native life and culture.
Students in Cassie Jackson’s class have been working with former rural Alaska teacher Mark Thompson to build two dog sleds. One sled is made of ash and the other of hickory. They will be on display in the school lobby and occasionally used by students.
“It’s definitely something the students relate to. It’s just part of the culture,” Jackson says. “We’re always, here at Effie, trying to infuse cultural and Native knowledge into what we do.”
The mantra that Thompson and Jackson instill in their students is “It’s not about building a sled. It’s about building students.”