• City Room: Vt students score through new partnership
    February 18,2013

    We all learn in different ways. Teachers are acutely aware of the challenge and constantly adapt to make subjects engaging for every student in the classroom.

    For years now, newspapers across the nation have collaborated with local schools through the Newspapers in Education program, which uses the contents of the newspaper to complement various curricula. Across Vermont, 600 copies of The Times Argus or the Rutland Herald are delivered to nearly 30 schools and 47 school libraries, either in print or digital formats.

    According to Melody Hudson, coordinator for the papers’ NIE program, more than 108,000 print copies are delivered around the state during the nine months of the school year. Educators report using the paper for nearly all of their major subjects (English, math, science, geography, social studies, civics), and with technological innovations through our e-editions, we can expand our NIE offerings to include several foreign languages.

    We are always looking for ways to let teachers know about the program and get more educators registered to take part.

    Then we learned something: The Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League have a similar program that is incorporated into schools around New England. A few phone calls later, and a partnership was formed.

    Beginning in March, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald will be providing teachers and students access to another education resource: Ice School.

    The Boston Bruins education program, which was started in 2006, also focuses on kindergarten through eighth grade. As with NIE, once a teacher is registered, the educator has access to resources, including Bruins-specific curricula for core subjects. Ice School also teaches fundamentals of sportsmanship and provides students with skills to detect, avoid and call out bullies. (Other NHL teams have similar K-through-8 education programs.)

    According to Kerry Collins, director of community relations for the Bruins, Ice School is well established around Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Schools in Rhode Island, Connecticut and spots around Canada also use the education program. Currently, 15 teachers around Vermont are using Ice School. In all, Collins said, there are more than 2,000 teachers and 60,000 students New England-wide taking part. (They even have a teacher — a New England transplant — working in Hawaii.)

    This is the Bruins’ first collaboration with any newspaper for Ice School, Collins said.

    “We are very excited about this partnership,” she said. “This will be great exposure for us in Vermont. It is a wonderful opportunity.”

    The Bruins are hoping to boost their program enrollment across the state.

    The partnership will include weekly pages appearing in the e-editions of both The Times Argus and the Rutland Herald. Registered schools will have access to both the NIE curriculum and the Bruins’ Ice School worksheets and skill-building assignments. The pages also will include recent photos from the team’s games, short articles and testimonials from Vermont educators using NIE and Ice School, and occasional interviews and articles about the Bruins.

    By combining the two programs, The Times Argus and the Rutland Herald will offer various methods for student learning at all grade levels, across several subjects.

    According to Collins, every two years a panel of participating educators meets to update the core curriculum to keep it fresh and interesting. The 15 educators on the panel are from schools around New England. Ice School uses customized hockey and team props and examples for all of its lessons.

    As schools complete Ice School tasks, they become eligible for incentives, including prizes, visits to their community by the Bruins’ mascot, the team’s street hockey crew, and other Bruins-related notables. Participating schools also can schedule field trips to team practices, where team officials offer plenty of interaction with Bruins’ folks.

    Collins described how, on occasion, there also have been player interactions with students.

    Some students from Chinatown — most of whom were first-generation English-speaking elementary students — even got to try on equipment recently; another school got to pose with the Stanley Cup banner.

    “There is no shortage of enthusiasm,” Collins said. “Everyone is so committed to this program. ... It is very positive for all of us. We take great pride in it.”

    Likewise, the staffs at both newspapers are eager to begin working with other teachers and Vermont schools.

    In the coming weeks, look for the Bruins logo on the front pages; it will direct you to the special e-edition pages. In the meantime, get your class signed up for Newspapers in Education by calling Melody Hudson at 479-4040 or by signing up for Ice School at www.bostonbruins.com.

    This is one partnership we can all learn from.

    Steven Pappas is editor of The Times Argus.

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