by Rebecca Virgin
October 24, 2005
Substitute teachers have never caused such a buzz in school as when Leafs captain Mats Sundin and his teammate and fellow Swede, Alex Steen stepped into a grade six classroom at Kimberly Public School Tuesday.
The Leafs were at the school to launch a new curriculum for Leafs @ School, a TD Waterhouse web-based learning program that has been running for six years.
"The kids are just absolutely involved in it and they just love to do the activities," said Connie Bourne, a Grade 6 teacher at the school. "Anything related to the Leafs just gets them going."
The curriculum is split into sections called Math with Mats, Language with Eric Lindros, and Nutrition with Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle. A new addition to the program this year will focus on physical activity. Alex Steen demonstrated some of his skills at an assembly for the entire school.
"I saw all the kids enjoyed it so that really makes you feel good. They use hockey as a development thing for the kids so that they can associate hockey and their learning," said Steen. "It's great that they have something to connect to at the same time as they're learning because I know when I grew up it was easier to focus when it was something I liked."
It was no secret that the students liked spending an afternoon with the players. They welcomed the twosome with a rousing "Go Leafs Go" chant and the energy lasted for the entire assembly.
"When the two players walked into the room they screamed," said Vicky Whaley, a student teacher at the school. "They were totally over the moon with excitement. It's a very enthusiastic school."
The excitement and enthusiasm didn't go unnoticed by Sundin who has been attending visits like these since the program's inception.
"I hope we can motivate them a little bit," said Sundin. "I think when you look back when you grow older, being in school is obviously very important and sometimes it can be confusing when you're a kid to understand their priorities and what is important. It's great to come out and see the kids so excited."
He added, "I hope they can keep being interested in school and it's just a way to make sure that school keeps being interesting for the kids too and if they can do that it's a big win for us."
The kids were all decked out in blue and white, along with the corridors which had been decorated with posters and banners.
"I think it's really cool," said Rebecca Eldridge, the lucky student who got to introduce Sundin and Steen to the school. "It's really fun to see something so many people admire, made into something that you can learn from."
Teachers who are interested in enrolling in the program can go to www.leafsatschool.com for more information.