Sail Newport and Pell School Combine Science, Social Studies and Sailing

For 178 Pell Elementary School fourth-graders, an on-the-water classroom has provided a unique experiential learning opportunity at Sail Newport. 
 
Since September, the young students have travelled to the community sailing center during their academic day to board 22 foot sailboats to learn the basics of sailing including boat rigging, boat handling and navigation over the water.
 
The students are onboard with Sail Newport’s certified instructors. The students sail in Newport Harbor and the South Bay and participate in classroom learning at the public sailing center.
 
“Not only do the students learn sailing fundamentals, but the instructors and teachers tie the content of their shoreside lesson into their on-the-water experience. Getting out of the traditional classroom to engage with nature and the environment greatly enhances their learning,” says Kim Hapgood, Sail Newport program director. 
 
While at Sail Newport, one half of the class is on the water while other students are inside Sail Newport’s new marine education and recreation center educational center studying topics that align with Next Generation Science Standards. Classroom learning modules include weather, erosion, mapping, land forms, and geology which are subjects in line with public school curriculum standards.
 
The program is a partnership between the Pell Elementary School and Sail Newport, the non-profit sailing organization headquartered at Fort Adams State Park. 
 
“The Newport Public Schools, our teachers, and students are so appreciative of this amazing experience and opportunity. We are just in the beginning stages and the impact this program has already had on our students and learning community is priceless,” says Newport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Burns Jermain.
 
The Sail Newport Pell School Sailing Program was created by Donna Kelly, who is the Education Committee chairwoman at Sail Newport, and Hapgood. Kelly has taught in the Newport public schools for nearly 15 years and is taking an academic year off to implement the innovative program with Sail Newport. Hapgood has been the Program Director for Sail Newport for twenty years.
 
“To be able to offer our students an opportunity to step outside their traditional classroom setting and connect with nature has been remarkable,” Kelly says. 
 
The Pell School Sailing Program will continue in the spring when the fourth-graders expected to finish the second half of the 16-week program. 
 
The entire program is funded by Sail Newport who held a fundraiser and recruited donations for the program in order to provide it free to the elementary school.
 
“This program exemplifies the power of community and partnership. Sail Newport, Brad Read, Kim Hapgood, and our own Donna Kelly are ‘being the change’ by making a difference in so many lives and proving anything is possible in the Newport Public Schools and this City by the Sea,” Jermain adds.

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