Port hosts teacher program

Published 10:07 pm Monday, July 28, 2014

A Nansemond River High School marketing education teacher attended a professional development program she says will help her teach students about careers in maritime and transportation.

Michele Duncan said she was Suffolk’s only educator to attend the Southeast Maritime and Transportation Center’s Summer Maritime Transportation Institute.

The six-day program, which accepted 18 out of 90 applicants, ran in Norfolk earlier this month.


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It included tours of BAE Systems, Port of Virginia facilities, Newport News Shipbuilding, Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin, to name a few.

Participants were divided into five teams, Duncan explained, and each team worked on a maritime project, which they presented on the program’s final day.

Participants also had to expand on their individual components: Duncan said she focused on lesson plans for teaching about maritime careers for core subjects, career and technical education subjects and electives.

At the Port of Virginia, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics and career and technical information educators, guidance counselors, career coaches, college faculty and industry leaders participating in the program encountered a lively scene, according to Duncan.

“They were loading and unloading ships, and loading rail and trucks,” she said.

Duncan said she came away from the event with a new appreciation of the high number of jobs available in the maritime and transportation field.

“The problem is they are understaffed,” she said. “That’s the bottom line. They need us educators to get the word out to the young people and the adult career-switchers that the jobs are available, and what they need to do to apply.”

Duncan said she applied for the program after Gail Bess, Suffolk Public Schools’ coordinator of career and technical education, told career and technical education teachers about it in May.

“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to participate in this institute,” Duncan said.