Reach the World:
Classrooms with Travelers Worldwide
Imagine a geography assignment
that lets kids roam the globe in search of interesting
places and learn about the people who live there. That’s
exactly the case for many students who attend under-funded
public schools in New York City. Reach the World (RTW),
a New York City-based nonprofit, offers exciting, online
journeys to low-income, elementary and middle school
classrooms throughout the City. These journeys connect
students to the world in a meaningful way, train educators
how to teach with technology, and greatly enhance traditional
textbook geography and other subjects.
On May 22, 2004, Makulu, a
43-foot sailboat chartered to Reach the World, sailed
in to North Cove Marina in New York Harbor after completing
a 30,000-mile, three-year voyage around the world.
On the docks, more than 200 students, teachers, friends
and supporters gathered to welcome Makulu and her crew
home. The John J. Harvey fireboat sprayed towering
jets of water as Makulu rounded the jetty, and students
threw handfuls of flowers and blew bubbles onto the
crew as they approached. Students from Brooklyn’s PS 297, supervised by teachers
Sarah and Duane Jonker-Burke, placed leis around the
crewmembers’ necks as they disembarked onto dry
Students and teachers from
more than twenty New York City public schools began
working with the Reach the World crew in 2001. Over
2.5 years, together they created hundreds of online,
primary-source resources in Social Studies, Sciences
and Literacy to complement the required curriculum,
while also connecting students to a global community.
Students and teachers sent the Makulu crew on expeditions
to discover evolution in the Galapagos Islands; traditional
village homes in Sulawesi, Indonesia; and the culture
of the Cape Verde Islands, among other projects. All
of these real-world, up-to-date resources appeared
on Reach the World’s web site, www.reachtheworld.org,
as free materials for all to use.
The New York City public school
classrooms in Reach the World’s network received support from Teachers
College/Columbia University interns and professional
development opportunities for teachers, free of charge.
It’s critical that teachers in under-funded schools
receive more support on-site. Placing graduate students
into our classrooms as interns is a win-win for all involved.
Over the summer months, Reach
the World will refit the schoolship Makulu and hire
a new crew. The next Voyage of Makulu, the company’s
third, will depart from New York City in early winter
2004 for another 30,000-mile journey around the globe.
To find out more about becoming a Reach the World partner
classroom, or to volunteer with this exciting global
studies project, please visit www.reachtheworld.org.#
Heather Halstead is the Executive Director, Reach