PEABODY – As Heidi Mason’s kindergarten class was settling back in after a long holiday vacation, they were joined by a new classmate.
On Monday, Bruins Boston Bruins forward Reilly Smith made an appearance at the Thomas Carroll Elementary school in Peabody, MA as part of the Bruins I.C.E. (I Can Excel) School program that provides teachers with supplemental curriculum incorporating the sport of hockey and the Bruins into lesson plans. Smith walked into Mrs. Mason’s excited kindergarten classroom ready to teach the young Bruins fans about teamwork and answer some questions.
“Honestly, it’s nice to answer questions other than hockey,” Smith said. “ It’s good to see these young faces and them having so much fun. It honestly puts a smile on your face”.
Children are rarely bashful when given opportunities to ask the questions they want. The most difficult question of the day for the 23-year-old forward was regarding his lack of a canine companion.
“It was about a pet. If I had a dog and why didn’t I have a dog,” laughed Smith. “I didn’t have the heart to tell them I probably wasn’t mature enough to have my own dog”.
The day’s lesson plan focused on teamwork. Smith and the kids worked together to read a book, graph numbers and even create some little jerseys of their own.
“There’s a little bit of math, a little bit of writing and a little bit of literacy there, so we kind of touched on a few of the standards,” said Mason, who has been adapting the I.C.E. school into her curriculum since 2009. “It’s a free resource to supplement [a teacher’s] program. It’s kindergarten through eighth grade. There’s math, english-language arts, science, and there’s also anti-bullying programs, and there’s five lessons in each section for each grade level. You can accommodate them to meet the needs of your students. They’re easy to sneak in and it’s a lot of fun.”
The I.C.E. School program incorporates hockey into a teacher’s curriculum. For example, students will discuss Bruins statistics, graph landmark NHL scores and explore different climates to track fan attendance.
“It’s all aligned with the common core which is a huge buzz word right now,” said Mason. “The state of Massachusetts-and mostly a lot of the states-are under this common core that we have to follow. It’s really a nice piece of authentic teaching resource for other teachers to use that’s free online.”
The event brought out plenty of smiles from both Smith and the youngsters-one of the biggest coming from a young hockey fan who was in disbelief about the size of the Stanley Cup.
The young Bruins forward returned to Boston with a positive perspective of his own. “There’s little things. You learn something new every day,” Smith said. “All these young students, they work together so well. Something like that we’ll take to the dressing room.”