Maritime execs visit to Jefferson High underscores importance of unique new maritime curriculum

Oct 18, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. –Leaders of the state’s largest port and the world’s largest chapter of the International Propeller Club of the United States today visited with Hillsborough Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and several key representatives involved with Jefferson High School’s Maritime & Marine Environmental Science Honors Academy, to observe the new magnet program aimed at educating and encouraging young people to pursue careers within the diverse spectrum of maritime-related industries.

The Academy is Hillsborough County Public Schools’ only maritime magnet program, using hands-on activities, laboratory research and an externship, to prepare students for any of a bevy of maritime-industry careers.  Tampa is a perfect location for this type of curriculum because the city itself is rooted in maritime history and has the state’s largest and most diversified seaport—one of the largest and busiest ports in the U.S. Moreover, the International Propeller Club of the United States-Port of Tampa is the largest and most active club chapter in the world.  The Propeller Club is an association of marine and maritime interests representing the full gamut of working professionals and retirees from steamship lines and trucking companies to the military, engineering firms and maritime law firms.

“I’m very excited about our new maritime magnet program at Jefferson and the work being done by our teachers and students,” said Hillsborough Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.  “It’s through partnerships with the marine industry that we prepare our students to enter this highly demanding technical field.”

Students are provided a four-year curriculum focused on ecological, environmental and international maritime studies, and are challenged through their participation in rigorous Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, and honors level coursework.

“The International Propeller Club of the U.S.-Port of Tampa and Hillsborough County Public Schools have joined to create a pathway for young people to explore and engage in a wide variety of maritime careers.  The new magnet program at Jefferson High School will introduce students to seafaring careers aboard ships and tugs; shore support careers as shipping agents, terminal operators, naval architects, admiralty attorneys; shipbuilding and ship repair careers as skilled iron workers, electricians, machinists, technicians,” Dave Sessums, education chair and long-time member of the local Propeller Club, said.

Sessums’ work over the last several years has been an integral part of the program’s development, and his many years of experience in the maritime field have proven vital to its integrity. Sessums is one of a host of people who have served on a committee to build the magnate program.

Paul Anderson, president and chief executive of the Tampa Port Authority, is extremely impressed with the program and understands the significance it brings to the Hillsborough schools and participating students. He spoke to the program’s 14 students, offering anecdotes and encouragement in considering any of a bevy of career options which they will explore.

“After seeing the types of learning experiences being offered in this benchmark maritime program, I am very encouraged about the building of a qualified, enthusiastic workforce for the Tampa area maritime community, which is very large and broad. These young people are very fortunate to be in a school district that has recognized the value of a strong port and maritime presence here in Tampa, and that is aligning their students to be a part of a sustainable, well-trained work force for future generations,” Anderson said.

Opportunities for workers range from highly skilled blue collar to CEOs of international shipping and trading companies.  This industry truly has a place for anyone who possesses the desire to excel.  The school district’s Career and Technical Education department has worked with members of the Tampa maritime community to develop an innovative curriculum to introduce students to this wide range of careers that are vital to the economic prosperity of the Port of Tampa community. For more information about the Maritime and Marine Environmental Science program at Jefferson High School, visit http://jefferson.mysdhc.org/teacher/3784paradis/.

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