September 10, 2012

Partnering with a University – Schooner Inc.

New Haven, CT - Consortium participants are always looking for ways to enhance and/or build an academic dimension for their sailing programs. Schooner Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut demonstrates a unique and highly successful partnership. Schooner Inc.'s slogan is ‘Schooner…more than just a tall ship!’ Spend ten minutes on the Schooner Inc website and you’ll wonder if they have a staff of 100. However in a conversation with Kristen Andrews, Executive Director, one learns that the key is partnering with the Marine Biology department at the University of New Haven and its dynamic chair, Dr. Carmella Cuomo.

Ten years ago, Dr. Cuomo pioneered a Marine Biology department at the UNH. The department has since grown to include an expansive array of classroom and field study experiences.

UNH Student teaching aboard Quinnipiack

In 2008, Schooner Inc. and the department initiated curriculum building and a staffing partnership. New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound provide the setting for New Haven’s flagship the 91’ Schooner Quinnipiack, and a waterfront for sailing lessons (Optis & FJs), canoes, paddleboards and coastal studies. Schooner Inc. not only operates Quinnipiack and the waterfront but also a comprehensive marine science educational program both at their facilities and in schools across Connecticut, enhanced by the partnership.

Dr. Cuomo notes that UNH students come to Schooner Inc. with an enviable depth of knowledge but little or no experience teaching what they know. Kristen and her team train the UNH students to effectively share their knowledge in a marine classroom as well as engaging the youngsters.

Schooner Quinnipiack Schooner Quinnipiack

UNH students have helped build the multi-faceted content of the CT Coastal Classrooms curriculum and fill almost two-thirds of Schooner, Inc.’s summer staff requirements. Quinnipiack opens the UNH school year by taking marine biology students on a “get to know you classmates” sail. Kristen indicates that this is a special opportunity for Schooner Inc. to engage freshmen and keep them on the team through college. An important component of the UNH program is the exposure of students to all of the careers that can come from a degree in marine biology. Kristin is part of that effort.

Through the partnership, Schooner Inc. gains an enthusiastic young team with a depth of knowledge to continually strengthen their academic program. The UNH develops students with greater maturity, more self-assurance and excitement about their chosen field of study. Consortium participants are encouraged to check out the possibility of initiating a partnership with a local university to help develop lessons and teach whatever aspect of math and science you want to bring to your sailing program. – Kristen Andrews, Executive Director and Simon King-Trudeau, Education Coordinator.

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