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2017 HFTFS Prize for Teaching Excellence Winner

Brendan Malone

Marine Systems Technology

Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, NY

I got my start at The Sound School, the career and technical education marine trades high school in New Haven, CT. … The school’s shop was an old navy repair barge pushed up onto land and ponderously shored up, and right away I discovered my love for those smells of wood, diesel fuel and turpentine, and the squawking sounds of the seagulls. What really hooked me was that once I learned how to safely use the tools, I was given plans and materials, and left to figure out how to build a boat. Concepts once abstract became REAL: real math, real geometry, real problem-solving, and of course, real mistakes.

Brendan Malone has been a marine trades teacher for 17 years.  Prior to entering teaching, he ran his own marine systems company for 15 years, then worked at New York City’s South Street Seaport Museum as a shipwright and the waterfront foreman, entrusted with heading up the maintenance and restoration of the museum’s fleet of historic vessels.

Malone’s own experiences as a marine trades student inform his teaching.  He attended The Sound School in New Haven, CT, a marine trades high school that fostered in him a love of boats and the confidence that comes from mastery of real-world skills.  Malone says of this experience, “I acquired not only technical skills that made me employable, but also the confidence that I could find a solution to just about any problem, if I really applied myself. I am a certified Marine Systems Technician with a hundred-ton United States Coast Guard Captain’s license, but more important than any license or certification are the experiences and skills that our program at Harbor School can pass on to empower students.”

The Marine Systems Technology program at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School prepares students to work in a career building, maintaining, and repairing boats.  Students in the program must demonstrate mastery across a broad field of trades:  woodworking, engine maintenance, metalworking and welding, composites, electrical, plumbing and sanitation, heating and cooling, among others.

The New York Harbor School is the only high school in the country authorized to administer the American Boat and Yacht Council’s Marine Systems Technician Certification Exam.  Malone and his colleagues work extensively with local post-secondary institutions to offer a seamless transition to advanced training and degree opportunities in Marine Technology and Marine Engineering.

Work-Based Learning experiences are an integral part of Malone’s Marine Systems Technology program.  Students participate in increasingly intensive real-world learning as they progress, beginning with visits to shipyards, marinas, boatyards and manufacturing facilities, advancing to applied maritime studies, where they work in the field under the direction of their teachers and in conjunction with industry partners. The culmination of these experiences is an internship, with specific technical and work-readiness learning goals formulated by the student, teacher and workplace mentor.  This fall, Malone’s class will assist the South St Seaport Museum in the restoration of a 1930’s tugboat.