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    Seafaring in the San Juan Islands
    Posted on 10/19/2018
    Students row during their summer course

    Seafaring in the San Juan Islands: Seattle Skills Center Course Builds 21st Century Skills

    In addition to technical skills, soft skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and leadership (21st century skills) have become a prerequisite for employment. To help prepare students for college, career, and life, the Seattle Skills Center provides students with hands-on learning opportunities where they gain tangible knowledge to become competitive applicants in the job market.

    Seattle Public Schools has many opportunities for career connected learning. With Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, Seattle Public Schools students have opportunities to engage in enriching coursework throughout the year. During the school year, students ages 16-20 years old can also participate in Skills Center courses which incorporate longer class times, advanced equipment, and project-based learning. In all CTE and Skills Center courses, students earn high school credit and in some cases free college credit. Seattle Skills Center also provides free summer courses for incoming 9th graders to 12th graders where students can engage in hands-on learning and earn high school CTE credit in a wide range of career connected learning courses.

    One such course this past summer, “Introduction to Maritime Vessel Operations I” was offered in partnership with the Seattle Maritime Academy, based at the Seattle College campus in Ballard. During the course, students honed their skills in fundamental maritime skills, including safety, navigation, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking.

    Careers in the maritime industry are widely available in the Puget Sound area, with nearly 70,000 jobs in Washington state employing trained staff in this high-wage career path.

    The Skills Center has two summer introductory courses and starting in the 2019-20 school year, an advanced Maritime Vessel Operations course will be offered in conjunction with the Seattle Maritime Academy. Following this course, students who want to continue in the maritime career path can study at a four-year college, complete a one-year college certificate program at Seattle Maritime Academy, or go directly into an occupation in the maritime industry.

    The Skills Center “Introduction to Maritime Vessel Operations II” course was launched this past summer and was led by the NW Maritime Center of Port Townsend. Students became crew for seven days, starting and ending in Anacortes, Washington. The classroom for this course was a 25-foot rowing and sailing vessel and the San Juan Islands in the Salish Sea.

    Students learned to navigate currents and tides, read charts, and gain an understanding of the physics of sailing. When there wasn’t enough wind, students used their muscles at the oars to visit some of the many small islands in the area. Students also learned about the natural and human history of the area, including an introduction to the Native American people who have made the Salish Sea home for thousands of years.

    Student smile for a photo with sunset behind them Furthermore, the crew on board this little vessel had to learn about each other, respect differences, and find ways to work together in constructive ways. Though a teacher was at the helm, students had to lead. The sea was their classroom, and they had to learn to collaborate with each other, lead their peers, and exercise critical thinking skills – all essential in making it through the course.

    Though the course was brief, the students developed lasting connections. Dan Golosman, principal of the Seattle Skills Center, said that the maritime students reunited at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and have been keeping in touch since the summer.

    Parents of Avery Jenkins, a Ballard High School freshman, expressed that the experience was “awesome for Avery. It has been a life-altering experience for [him], one that he will never forget. We can already see the personal growth that occurred.”

    This is just one course among many in Seattle Public Schools that prepare students with 21st Century Skills for a wide range of career pathways. For more information on career-connected learning in Seattle Public Schools, check out the CTE webpage and the Skills Center website, and follow on Seattle Skills Center Facebook and Seattle Skills Center Twitter.