HISD and The Port of Houston Form a Maritime Academy

The port's Wade Battles says the port had two problems, good paying jobs that were hard to fill...

"And we also continued to find that there was a general lack of knowledge of the maritime industry in Houston as far as employment opportunities."

Battles says the port began talking about its problem with the two-year and four-year college maritime programs in the area.

"And it became very, very apparent that we had to start earlier and develop this knowledge at the high school level."

The Maritime Academy at Austin High begins in the fall with incoming freshman.ξ Principal Linda Llorente says this is how it works.

"We'll have a cluster of teachers: one English, one science, one social studies, one math and then career and technology."

The career and technology instructor will handle subjects like intro to port logistics.ξ The core teachers will include maritime topics like math that's related to the maritime industry or compositions that have a maritime theme.

Llorente says there will be field trips to the port and internships for seniors.

"Four years from now those kids who start this year will have the opportunity to work at the Port of Houston with pay and be trained there."

Battles says those who've completed the program will have options.

"There are three levels they can go into, whether it's immediately graduating from High School and going to work, going to a two year college and get certification as a tankerman or one of those licensed positions, or go all the way to a four year college and get licensed to go to sea or become a captain on a tug boat, work on the docks or in administration, so there's a wealth of opportunities."

The reason the port has this problem is that for many years a lot of then port's employees were people who had gone to sea for sometime and wanted jobs on land in an industry they knew.ξ With fewer Americans going to sea fewer are even aware of maritime employment opportunities.

Llorente says those opportunities can be very lucrative.

"You'd be surprised how much a tug boat captain makes, I mean they're making six figures."

She says graduates will have lots of options....

And the port will offer scholarships for worthy students.

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