INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — When I first stepped into Laurie Countryman's classroom, I knew she had a passion for teaching — and the Chiefs.
She combined those passions effortlessly when I first visited back in February. It was just a few days before the Super Bowl.
Mrs. Countryman married math with football, and her students were engaged. The William Southern Elementary first graders explained to me that they tracked every Chiefs score throughout the 2022-23 NFL season. They learned what a team's record was, and they knew that the Chiefs' record last year was really good (14-3 in the regular season).
Since we talked shortly ahead of the Super Bowl, there were a lot of unknowns, which we discussed.
The "unknown" was tough enough for adults to comprehend. So how did she prepare her kiddos?
This was the first piece that led into our Super Bowl pregame show:
After the team hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, I knew where I had to be that following Monday.
Mrs. Countryman was going to cement the season with a permanent marker. In addition to writing all of the game scores down, she also created a playoff bracket that she filled out as the Chiefs made their playoff run.
She let me chronicle that celebratory moment in a piece that led into our Super Bowl parade coverage.
Here's "Written in Ink":
I knew I wanted to come back to Mrs. Countryman's class this school year.
Just like the Chiefs, she faces a new year and welcomes a new roster. At least the Chiefs have a few players returning!
I did an interview with her and compiled some of the main themes to create our latest piece, "Run It Back."
Countryman said her class will track the Chiefs' scores again this year as she plans to continue bringing lessons from the football field into the classroom.
By the way, I told Mrs. Countryman that I'll keep coming back under two conditions: 1) that she still welcomes me and 2) that the Chiefs keep winning.
Here's to many more collaborations with those first graders and their remarkable teacher, who is starting her 25th year teaching!