the World: “Aiming for Big Impact in Small Communities”
Heather Halstead speaks of her voyage around the world, her eyes
have a calm, soothing glance and the tone of her voice significantly
softens. She makes sailing sound uniquely personal and appears
mesmerized by the images of the people and places she encountered.
sailing, you are surrounded by the most austere, wild, environment,
unconcerned with human existence,” she said. “At first it makes
one feel so small and insignificant.”
Her personal photo album filled with the mental images that she
collected along the way appears to hold more than she could ever
share with anyone. Yet, she made this yearlong voyage only to
achieve this seemingly impossible task: share it with schools.
The Founder and Director of Reach The World, a non-profit organization,
Halstead launched a round-the-world voyage in 1997 that sought
to bring the world into the classroom. She and her crew collaborated
with the students of five classrooms in NYC public schools through
the Internet, creatively enhancing their curriculum.
The second voyage, launching in November of 2001, promises to
bring the same type of interactive, expedition-oriented curriculum
to 25 classrooms in the Bronx.
have the technological means to enhance the quality of learning.
“Boring” topics can be made to come to life with technological
aids and human contact,” she said.
The voyage, indicative of how a dream can become a reality, was
one Halstead must have taken numerous times, at least in her imagination.
As a child, she listened to her grandfather, Charles Stoddard
Pope, tell his own stories of sailing, as he wove macrame—an art
of knots, also known as “the sailors art.”
was the center of our family,” she said. “He was a very kind-hearted,
gentle man whose big thing in life was sailing.”
She was first introduced to the practical side of sailing at the
age of 15 when she attended a summer sailing camp, where she later
served as a counselor and an instructor. However, when she arrived
at Dartmouth College, she discovered a new passion: teaching.
“Most of my off-campus experiences had to do with being a teacher,”
During her last year at Dartmouth, her two seemingly different
interests found a way to connect. Having no aspiration to join
the corporate world, Halstead considered other options. She knew
she wanted to sail around the world and that her on-campus and
off-campus activities had provided her with enough practical knowledge
to raise funds and make Reach the World a reality.
Tania Aebi’s Madean Voyage, an autobiographical account of the
author’s voyage around the world, provided Halstead with the momentum
to make her dream a reality.
don’t know what it was that dropped this book in my lap,” she
said. “There are so many options of what to do but little encouragement
to follow non-traditional routes,” she said, explaining that the
author served as a role model. Heather became the first young
woman to travel around the world as captain of her own ship after
The first voyage was conceived of in January of 1997 and was launched
a year later. Halstead was able to lease a 43 foot ketch Nautor’s
Swasn Keds, built in 1978 in Finland. She recruited a crew, consisting
of 30 people, who rotated throughout the year and who shared the
same passion for education.
premise of the exhibition was to take a real world expedition
and convert it into classroom material with the computer as a
tool. The Digital aspect was to serve as a bridge between the
real world experience and classroom curriculum,” she said.
In collaboration with the Institute for Learning at Columbia University,
which provided one student/intern to work with the five classrooms,
Reach the World was able to achieve its task.
A project organized by Heather Ganek, one of the teachers that
worked with Reach the World serves as an example of how the voyage
was incorporated into the classroom.
theme of the year was world culture,” said Ganek. “We were looking
to expand the kid’s understanding of different cultures and one
way to do so was through the study of religion and language.”
Her class happened to be studying Asia when Halstead was in Singapore.
The classes prepared an itinerary, which the crew followed. The
crew then mailed a packet with information, photos and brochures
from the places they had visited.
kids received a better sense of understanding because they had
teachers beyond the classroom,” said Ganek.
During the second voyage, Reach the World will be working with
25 classrooms in the Bronx and will bring an intense level of
participation to students of ages 3-8. “The only way for the project
to work is to provide support. We provide each classroom with
an intern that spends 5-10 hours per week helping with issues
that arise from Reach the World,” said Halstead.
Classes are expected to incorporate Reach the World material two
times a week, and to produce at least one project per semester.
Halstead has already selected her crew, although she will not
be taking the voyage, but will remain behind to work closely with
the school and their communities.
order to make a change in these communities you must be there
on the ground to know its needs,” she said. “We are aiming for
big impact in small communities.”
Her vision today is “that this kind of educational resource will
be available to every classroom in the US and abroad.”
more information on Reach the World go to www.reachtheworld.org
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.