Anika Althouse and her horse recently competed in barrel racing at NBHA world championships.
When CCA special education teacher Anika Althouse isn’t working with students from her post in the Family Service Center in Dickson City, she trains in Union Dale and competes as a professional horseback rider up and down the East Coast – a pastime she has been passionate about for 23 years.
“I was 3 years old when I first started, and I mostly trail road,” Althouse said. “Now it is my fourth year training and competing in barrel racing.”
Althouse’s horse’s registered name is Dashin Thru Shawnee, and his barn name is Touchdown.
This year, Althouse qualified for the National Barrel Horse Association world championships in Perry, Georgia, where she joined more than 1,000 people competing across 200 categories.
“It was an awesome experience,” Althouse said.
She said that as a cyber school teacher, it’s nice to be able to take her laptop along in case a student or family needed to check in while she was away.
Working in the cyber school setting isn’t a typical teaching job. And, if you’re a special education teacher, it’s even rarer.
“The best part about teaching is helping the families,” Althouse said. “Every student is different, so for me it’s all about being able to give the students the support that they need to learn and succeed.”
Althouse has been teaching at CCA for two years, and before that she was a one-on-one aide in a brick-and-mortar school. In the cyber setting, she spends every day going over lessons with her students and makes more than 20 calls a week to check in with families.
“The relationships I can make with the students and their family members allow me to make sure I am doing what I can to meet each individual student’s needs,” Althouse said.
“Being an itinerant teacher can definitely be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. And the reward is greater than the occasional challenges.”