Port Townsend maritime education

Maritime Discovery Schools Initiative

Project supported an initiative of Port Townsend Schools and marine professionals to integrate maritime skills and at-sea experience into local K-12 educational curricula.

Principal Investigator

Sarah Rubenstein, Port Townsend School District

Co-Principal Investigators

Reed Aubin, North Olympic Salmon Coalition

Jack Beattie, Northwest Maritime Center

Janine Boire, Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Betsy Davis, Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding

Nancy Israel, Northwest Maritime Center

Kathryn Karschney, Karschney Consulting

Nathanael O’Hara, Port Townsend School Board

Shelly Randall, Story Services

Kelley Watson, Port Townsend School District


Many high school students, parents and educators are unaware of the job opportunities that shipping, fishing, boatbuilding and other maritime industries provide in Washington state. Schools often do not teach the skills these industries need, and more workers are now retiring or leaving these industries than entering them. Educators and industries must come together to head off a looming workforce crisis in Washington’s $12 billion maritime sector. This initiative helped to transform Port Townsend’s school system into a model “maritime district.” Teachers and industry professionals found ways to apply skills such as marine mapping and historical research to core subjects like mathematics and social studies. All 85 Port Townsend teachers, plus 30 more from the region, will integrate these applications into the K-12 curriculum. Students learn seamanship, problem solving and teamwork­—vital skills at sea—aboard replicas of the longboats Captain Vancouver used to explore Puget Sound.