Getting Underway Again – Captain Aaron Singh

The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity, which stands in stark contrast to the virtual zoom box my students and I were placed in over a year ago. I am a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher at New York Harbor School and much of the work we do is hands-on, project based enrichment in the maritime industry. I have been so excited to get our students back out on the water and have them re-engage with our program partner Billion Oyster Project. The recent opportunities with Billion Oyster Project have been just enough to get our feet wet after a long hibernation period. I think it’s safe to say — we all feel amazing!

Two centuries ago, New York and New Jersey’s bays, harbors and tidal rivers teemed with wild oysters that were shipped to restaurants in Paris and London and transported by barge along the Erie Canal. Today the Nature Conservancy estimates that 85 percent of the world’s oyster reefs have disappeared. Stressed by pollution, over-harvesting and disease, wild oysters are now considered “functionally extinct” in the New York region, according to Pete Malinowski, executive director of Billion Oyster Project, an education and restoration program founded in 2014 to repopulate New York Harbor with oysters. (Oysters Summer Boom)

Take a look at the ABC News reel, Uneaten oysters provide pearl of an environmental solution during COVID-19 pandemic

Harbor School students were back at it! They quickly mobilized to finish the USCG inspections on the school’s vessels, attend crew training and prepare for diving operations, which was very impressive after such a long interruption of our maritime programming. It was great to have the SOAR project help anchor and re-invigorate our CTE curriculum. As educators, we strive to connect our students with real-world issues. We want our students to be problem solvers, to create and collaborate. This what CTE is all about. I know that some school districts are still formulating how to re-engage students for in-person learning next year. We were fortunate to have the NYC School Chancellor, who oversees the nation’s largest school district serving over 1 million students, see for herself why hands-on learning matters. Take a look at her visit here.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting and building new partnerships with our maritime supporters this fall. Our programs are just a small glimpse of the amazing work maritime schools have been doing nationwide. Within the Vessel Operations MPSEC I’m hoping to build a cadre of educators, students and industry professionals to share their stories and best practices to prepare the next generation of mariners and industry leaders. Please feel free to email me at if you would like to highlight your programs and how you plan to re-engage industry and students for the up-coming school year.

If you’re looking for ideas enhancing your programs and building partnership and curriculum, consider connecting with the following organizations in your area: