Northwest Maritime Center launches K-12 education program
A new program in Washington state is bringing maritime education to students from kindergarten through high school.
The Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Wash., is partnering with the local school district to integrate maritime experiences into daily education for its 1,200 students.
As a small district in a maritime town, Port Townsend was the perfect place to try out this program, said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center.
The program is modeled after one the center has been doing for the last decade with the district’s 7th-graders and is based on the theory of “place-based education” – that students learn better when education is related to their community.
“Every single grade, every single classroom, every single subject will have a maritime/salt water experience embedded throughout,” Beattie said.
By teaching regular subjects through a maritime lens, it makes it more relevant to the students. The program also takes a cohesive approach, tying subjects together.
For example, Beattie said, students will create a navigational plan in math class, then go out in physical education class and row 18th-century replica longboats along that navigational plan, followed by a discussion in history class about the boats and the experience they just went through.
The plan has been greeted with enthusiasm by most in the community and the district, which has been searching for ways to improve school performance and keep young families in the area, Beattie said.
The curriculum will be rolled out over the next several years as the center raises funds for the new program, which will cost an estimated $125 per student per year. By year five, the plan calls for the program to be opened up to students outside the district as a regional, distance learning resource. Students from other areas will be able to learn remotely, with periodic week-long experience in Port Townsend.
“It has great potential as we scale it up,” Beattie said. “It will be the only integrated school district around a cohesive maritime theme.”