Writing Stem to Stern with Nathaniel Philbrick

Mystic Seaport Board of Trustees Chairman Barclay Collins (right) presents Nathaniel Philbrick (center) with the 2015 America and the Sea Award in New York City on October 14, 2015. Standing behind the podium is Museum President Steve White.

Mystic Seaport Board of Trustees Chairman Barclay Collins (right) presents Nathaniel Philbrick (center) with the 2015 America and the Sea Award in New York City on October 14, 2015. Standing behind the podium is Museum President Steve White.

One of the pleasures of my position is the opportunity to help our staff develop new programs and new ways for us to engage children and students in meaningful ways. Our recent gala in New York City when we honored author Nathaniel Philbrick with the 2015 America and the Sea Award was one such opportunity.

A tradition at our live auction during the dinner is to raise our paddles for an important Museum need, and we try to align the project with the interests of the honoree. This year, we were very successful and created a project that is near and dear to Nat’s heart.

Mystic Seaport is recognized for its exceptional educational programs for students K-12 and beyond. That night, we announced a vital new program, “Writing Stem to Stern with Nathaniel Philbrick” at Mystic Seaport. Nat will partner with Mystic Seaport to share his unique approach to writing and research, and Mystic Seaport educators will lend their teaching tools and the Museum’s collections to inspire 150 middle-school students over a three-year period from New London’s Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School as writers, readers, and listeners.

The inspiration for “Writing Stem to Stern” was a maritime education program launched in 2013 by the Egan Institute in Nantucket called “Sea of Opportunities.” Nat is the former executive director of Egan and the initiative particularly resonated with him. It resonated with the gala guests, too, as they pledged $61,000 for the program—well over the target amount! The program will create experiences at Mystic Seaport and in the classroom at no cost to the students or the school district.

For Mystic Seaport, the choice to serve students in New London is deliberate: just like Nat’s Nantucket, New London was at one time one of the top five whaling ports in America, and we feel it is appropriate that a leader in one whaling town will help the children of another and provide them with a special opportunity to enhance their communication skills.

Steve White