Professional Development

Dr. Glenn Gordinier and teachers during the African American History Google Hangout Teacher Professional Development workshop.

Dr. Glenn Gordinier, Robert G. Albion Historian at Mystic Seaport, leading an African American Maritime History professional development workshop. Teachers also participated in the workshop online via a Google Hangout.

Leadership at Sea: Professional Development for Teachers

Victory Chimes

Victory Chimes

Mystic Seaport and the schooner Victory Chimes are pleased to offer a special joint professional development program for teachers. This is a unique, multidisciplinary teaching and learning experience that is designed to share the resources available to teachers at Mystic Seaport, and to provide an extraordinary environment for learning and connecting with others on board the schooner Victory Chimes, a national landmark vessel that represents our living heritage. This program can accommodate up to 24 teachers.  Participating teachers will also learn how they can involve their school in the upcoming Leadership at Sea program for students in 2016-2017.

Cost: $1,295/person, includes room and board for entire program (if housing is not needed for shore component, subtract $80)

Shore Component at Mystic Seaport (August 2-4, 2016), Mystic CT

During the shore component at Mystic Seaport, teachers will:

    • learn about object-based teaching strategies in the museum/classroom through primary source workshops and hands-on activities on the grounds of Mystic Seaport;
    • learn about the Museum’s website for educators and how to incorporate its content into the classroom;
    • utilize Museum objects and exhibits as a forum/vehicle for interdisciplinary investigations; and
    • begin developing lesson plans based on information acquired during the professional development program.

*Please note that the lesson plans that teachers will develop from this professional development program will be uploaded to Mystic Seaport for Educators, a website for teachers at Mystic Seaport. We ask that teachers bring laptops or some sort of tablet for their work sessions. Cameras are also welcome. The teachers will just begin their lesson plans during the shore component, and then complete them in the fall after the sea component. Lesson plans will be submitted to Mystic Seaport by December 1, 2016.

View the Leadership at Sea shore component agenda.

Sea Component on board Victory Chimes (August 18-22, 2016), Rockland, ME

The sea component of the Leadership at Sea professional development program will be held on board the historic sailing vessel Victory Chimes, a 170′ three-masted schooner that sails out of Rockland, Maine. Sail under the command of Captain Kip Files, who is the owner of the Victory Chimes and was Captain of Mystic Seaport’s whaleship the Charles W. Morgan during the ship’s historic 38th Voyage. The Victory Chimes provides an extraordinary platform for learning and connecting with others. The curriculum on board includes five areas of study: Marine Science and Geology, Maritime History, Nautical Science, Expressive and Creative Arts, and Leadership. Teachers will become part of the crew, holding watches and participating in every aspect of the vessel’s operation while being guided and supported by the outstanding professional Victory Chimes crew. Daily workshops and classes, opportunities to explore on shore, and evening programs will provide for reflecting and connecting with others.

Workshops on board will include:

  • Exploring the diverse rocky shore/intertidal zones and the geology of our coastline;
  • time traveling through the Age of Sail to present time as growth and development affects trade, agriculture, fisheries, our natural resources and more;
  • STEAM, Mastery Learning and grading;
  • exploring the expressive and creative arts and supporting research as a way of communicating, connecting, and raising self-awareness;
  • final reflections and information session on collaborative opportunities for students and teachers including the upcoming program Leadership at Sea for students in 2016-2017.

View the sea component agenda for the Leadership at Sea professional development program.

Registration Information

Please download the Leadership At Sea registration form and send the completed form to Kristi Otterbach at by April 30, 2016. For questions about the sea component contact Kristi; for questions about the shore component, contact Sarah Cahill at

School-Year Professional Development Programs

Mystic Seaport for EducatorsMystic Seaport hosts free monthly professional development workshops that provide teachers with “behind-the-scenes” tours and thematic workshops that correlate the Museum’s vast collections with classroom curriculum. Workshops show teachers how to utilize the Museum and its collections in their classrooms through active participation and interaction with experts, primary source documents, and exhibition objects. Topics range from immigration, whaling, and life at sea, navigation and nautical instruments to the Civil War and World War II. Each session will also highlight our website for teachers.

Programs and Resources

May 11, 2016, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. — “Words & Waves: Literature of the Sea, with Richard King, Ph.D.”

Part lecture and part walking tour of Mystic Seaport, we will discuss the interdisciplinary teaching of American literary works set at sea or on the coast and how they have reflected, informed, and even spurred the environmental movement in the U.S. We’ wil discuss authors such as Rachel Carson, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Linda Greenlaw, and Sarah Orne Jewett.  As we look at the Mystic River and the Museum’s ships, we will focus a particular eye toward fishing and ocean resources when examined through the lens of fiction, narrative, and poetry. You will leave the workshop with readings, resources, and ideas that you can use in your classroom. Pizza and beverages will be provided. Please RSVP to Krystal Rose for more details: or 860-572-0711 ext. 5025.  

Past Programs

Inquiry Learning, Ships, Clocks & Stars, and the Quest to Control Time with Dr. Catherine Snyder (Professor and Interim Dean of the School of Education at Union Graduate College) and Mystic Seaport Staff, Elysa Engelman and Brian Koehler — There is a new dichotomy facing teachers today: preparing students for success based on a set of fixed standards without sacrificing the development of collaborative and analytical skills. In this workshop, teachers were introduced to an inquiry model which can accomplish both goals simultaneously. Using primary source material from the Museum’s collection and special exhibit, “Ships, Clocks, & Stars”, participants engaged in a sample lesson about the impact of accurate measurement on the success of the British Empire. Participants also discussed the adaptability of the inquiry method to their classroom. The night ended with a special tour of the new “Ships, Clocks & Stars” exhibit, led by the Museum’s Director of Exhibits, Elysa Engelman and Treworgy Planetarium Supervisor, Brian Koehler.

Putting the Connecticut Social Studies Frameworks into Action with Stephen Armstrong, Social Studies Consultant at Connecticut State Department of Education; Laura Krenicki, Global Education Consultant; and Krystal Rose, Mystic Seaport — During this workshop participants discussed how the social studies frameworks can be effectively utilized by schools and museums as they evaluate the ways they educate students. The inquiry arc was analyzed in great detail, with attention given to approaches to getting students to ask compelling questions. Methods to promote effective collaboration, both between students and educators, was also a focus of this session. Participants left with a Mystic Seaport inquiry-based lesson plan using objects from the Museum Collection, featured on the Mystic Seaport for Educators primary source website!

Gerda III: A Story from World War II with Howard Veisz — Mystic Seaport Volunteer and researcher Howard Veisz spoke about Gerda III, a wooden work boat built in 1926 for the Danish Lighthouse Service. She spent 60 years bringing supplies to the Drogden Lighthouse in the waters between Denmark and Sweden. During World War II, while continuing to perform her intended function, she took on other clandestine roles that established her place in history. Veisz discussed in-depth the vessel’s profound impact upon the fate of so many Jewish people who escaped the terror of the Gestapo because of her heroic actions. By an act of the Danish Parliament, the Gerda III was donated to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. The vessel was restored to her wartime appearance, complete with neutral flags, by the J. Ring Andersen yard in Denmark. Mystic Seaport is proud to help care for the boat and exhibit her in the United States.

The Historian as a Detective with Dr. Elysa Engelman — The world around us is filled with primary source material and clues about the past. It’s also filled with legends and stories that may or may not be “true.” Engelman shared how to help students navigate the art of inquiry and decipher the world around us. She shared how researching a historic house with a rumored Underground-Railroad connection led to a different story – a fugitive slave whose experience in New London triggered national coverage in the 1850s. Additionally, the program included ways that teachers can look at how artwork, stories, and primary sources can help students unpack the impact of memory and myth on our popular understanding of the past.

Inquiry Learning, Primary Source Workshops, and the Whaleship Essex with Dr. Catherine Snyder — There is a new dichotomy facing teachers today: preparing students for success based on a set of fixed standards without sacrificing the development of collaborative and analytical skills. In this workshop, teachers were introduced to an inquiry model which can accomplish both goals simultaneously. Using primary source material from the Museum’s collection focused on the whaling industry, participants engages in a sample lesson about the whaleship Essex and then discuss the adaptability of the inquiry method to their classroom.

Workshop leader Catherine Snyder is professor and associate dean of the School of Education at Union Graduate College. Prior to teaching at the college level she spent 10 years teaching secondary social studies in New York public schools and is National Board Certified. She has published extensively on topics related to the transformative nature of graduate education, teacher education, and the Suchman Inquiry model.

Hands on History — Spend an evening learning from our master craftsmen about the nature of trades in the nineteenth century. Our cooper, blacksmith, printer, and shipcarver will be on hand to discuss their crafts and how they use their skills to create meaningful learning experiences for both adults and children. A hands-on component will allow participants to gain a tangible understanding of the nation’s past. .


Summer Professional Development Programs

Munson InstituteThe Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies at Mystic Seaport offers dynamic and challenging graduate-level courses in American maritime history. During a six-week summer session, students may take two out of three possible courses for graduate credit or CEUs. Course selections include a Maritime History Survey, a Maritime Studies Seminar and Independent Research. Mystic Seaport serves as the unique campus for the courses, and students will also attend field seminars in New London, Stonington, and Newport. Anyone with a strong personal and academic interest in the sea may apply. For more information, call 860.572.0711, ext. 5089.