5th Period at the Bottom of New York Harbor


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May 23, 2011: It’s a high school like no other, where you might be growing oysters during 3rd period and spend 5th period scuba diving at the bottom of New York Harbor.  The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is a public high school whose mission is “built upon New York City’s maritime experience that instills in its students both the ethics and skills of stewardship.” We’re joined by three students from the school — Patricia Tapia, Florence Bloomfield, and Cesar Gutierrez — who will make you laugh, and touch your heart with inspiration while giving us all an important lesson about what motivates young students and what makes for an exceptional educational experience today. The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes. Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook! Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below. Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor.

5th Period at the Bottom of New York Harbor

Left to Right: Patricia, Cesar and Florence, all students from The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, who will make you laugh and touch your heart with inspiration while offering an important lesson about what motivates young students and what makes for an exceptional educational experience today. (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

Left to Right: Patricia, Cesar and Florence, all students from The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, who will make you laugh and touch your heart with inspiration while offering an important lesson about what motivates young students and what makes for an exceptional educational experience today. (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

Patricia Tapia, Florence Bloomfield, and Cesar Gutierrez are juniors at Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a very unusual high school that offers some very valuable lessons for students, teachers and schools around the country. The school’s mission: The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School provides a rigorous, college-preparatory education built upon New York City’s maritime experience that instills in our students both the ethics and skills of stewardship. The school is founded on four educational principles:

  1. The marine world provides an ideal forum for an education based on excellence, discipline and interdependence.
  2. Hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a natural environment stimulates curiosity, critical thinking, and vision, all of which lead to improved academic performance.
  3. All students have the desire and intellect to reach their highest academic standards when given the right opportunities and clear expectations.
  4. Small schools allow students a larger stake in decision making, as well as increased personal attention, alternative assessments, and easier access to the staff.

Patricia, Florence and Cesar spoke at the Blue Vision Summit 2011 in Washington, DC and were introduced by the school founder and program director, Murray Fisher who insisted I interview the students and not him. However, Murray deserves great praise and recognition for his incredible work.

Harbor School's Rowing Team practices at the Pier 40 Village Community Boathouse in Manhattan. Sportsmanship, leadership, hard work and responsibility make team boat handling for competition a fun challenge (Photo: NY Harbor School)

Harbor School’s Rowing Team practices at the Pier 40 Village Community Boathouse in Manhattan. Sportsmanship, leadership, hard work and responsibility make team boat handling for competition a fun challenge (Photo: NY Harbor School)

Murray worked for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at Hudson Riverkeeper, where among other things he delivered education programs to schools throughout the Hudson Valley. He later helped launch Waterkeeper Alliance, the umbrella organization for the then thirty six Waterkeeper programs throughout the world. Murray left Waterkeeper Alliance in the fall of 2002 to found the NYHS with Richard Kahan from The Urban Assembly. NYHS was approved in April 2003, and Murray became the school’s Program Director. I was struck by how Murray’s vision had so quickly become reality, making a real difference in the lives of students, who in turn, are determined to make a difference for this planet.

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