Super celebration for Saints fan

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mamie Martin Elementary School first-grade teacher Judy Bogganwas a New Orleans Saints fan long before there were ever wheels onthe Who Dat bandwagon.

And as long as she has been a teacher, she has been creating newgenerations of little Saints fans.

So understandably, for the teacher who uses scores and opponentsfrom her favorite team’s games in her math and geography lessons,the chance after years and years to see her team in the Super Bowlis no small thing. Her students knew it, too.

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“They all congratulated me like I did any coaching,” she said witha laugh. “(Saints head coach) Sean Payton doesn’t call me. He couldthough, because I have some ideas.”

Following their victory Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings, theSaints will go on to play in their first Super Bowl against theIndianapolis Colts on Feb. 7.

In recognition of Boggan’s team’s milestone, her students and herassistant teacher Angela Mixon decorated her classroom in black andgold, with streamers and balloons and a giant football helmet bythe door. When asked whose idea it was, every child in the classraised his or her hand.

“One of them is going to grow up to play for the Saints,” Boggansaid. “I have season tickets now, but when that happens I wantsideline passes.”

And as the black and gold runs deep in Boggan’s blood, makingSunday afternoon football a family affair for many years, herinvolvement of the team in classroom activities has encouraged herchildren to do the same.

“I grew up on the coast, and my mom and dad were huge fans and wewatched as a family,” she said. “And one little boy told me hewatched the game with his dad the other day, and that he’d neverdone that before.”

But it is a school thing too, Boggan said.

The class has learned to count by sevens to make computing footballscores a little easier. And they’ve learned much about citieselsewhere in the country based on who New Orleans was playing on agiven Sunday, Boggan said.

“They also know all the numbers of all the players on the team,”Boggan said proudly.

Also, many of the students are learning for the first time thatthere are other places in the world besides Brookhaven, and thatBrookhaven is in the state of Mississippi.

“You ask them where they’re from, and they say, ‘Brookhaven,'” shesaid. “But they don’t know what state that’s in.”

But when they look at the map of the United States to find outwhere the Saints’ opposing teams come from, they learn not onlyabout Mississippi, but also about the whole country.

The curriculum is teaching the children other things besides thingsthat are directly relevant to Sunday afternoon sporting events,Boggan said. The children are rewarded for coming in and reportingthe score of the Saints game every week, and it has reinforced apositive attitude toward school.

“They won’t miss a Monday,” she said. “Even if they’re sick, theystill come in on Monday to tell me the score. That’s importantbecause I want them to love school.”

She asked the students what the sad day of the week was, andcontrary to what most adults might say, little Caleb Carithersblurted out the answer.

“Friday! Because we don’t get to see our friends!” he said.

Boggan said she also uses the team to teach her studentssportsmanship.

“When they say things like, ‘We hate the Bills,’ I can remind themwe need to be good sports, that it’s a game and the Bills have fansthat like them too,” she said.

Meanwhile, the spunky blonde teacher said there was cake for snackTuesday to celebrate the victory, but that she had asked for alarger recognition.

“I tried to get (Mamie Martin principal) Mrs. (Danita) Hobbs to letus off Monday, but she said no,” Boggan said laughing.