At the World Ocean School, a nonprofit organization that allows students to work and learn together in a nontraditional setting, students of all ages experience life at sea on the historic tall ship, Roseway, a 137-foot moving classroom.
Programs begin dockside with the crew leading a student discussion about the importance of respect, communication, and teamwork. These values are immediately put to the test when all students come on board and work together to raise 4,000 pounds of sail. As the ship leaves the harbor, students apply math, science, language arts, and history concepts to their experience. They learn navigation skills, implement speed and distance calculations, examine the buoyancy that keeps them afloat, and study how the power of lift propels the ship through the water. Students are also challenged to climb up the rig and climb out on to the bowsprit as their classmates cheer them on.
From a three-hour day program to a two-week overnight trip, all groups experience the significance of coming together as a community and leave with the skills to apply this on land.
The World Ocean School primarily works with students in Boston, Massachusetts, in the summer months and in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, in the winter. While the organization focuses on educating underserved public school students, it also works with independent and charter schools.
Eden Leonard, education director for the school, says, "Regardless of background, public or private [school], this is an opportunity that is totally different from anything that students normally have a chance to experience. Students live this; they truly experience what it feels like to raise those sails and see how it all works. No one can take that experience away."
Roseway headed south in the spring of 2012 to the Tall Ship festival in Savannah, Georgia. While in port, Savannah Country Day and St. Andrews School brought their students on board in an effort to put new context to their history and science lessons. Since then, Savannah has become another port for Roseway during the fall months of November and December. Ashley Hall, an independent all-girls school in South Carolina, also partners with the World Ocean School to strengthen its unique high school leadership program. Last spring, 18 Ashley Hall girls spent 10 days as crew members living on board sailing off-shore from St. Croix back home to Charleston. These young women had an opportunity to run the vessel as junior watch officers throughout the trip, fostering lifelong tangible connections to learning both academically and as part of a community.
The World Ocean School continues to grow and currently has more than 50 partners, including schools, youth organizations, and other nonprofits. Regardless of their duration on Roseway, students make lasting memories on board, and depart with increased self- and world awareness.