CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi Independent School District's Maritime Studies program now has the money it needs for its first phase.
The money comes from a Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant worth $389,253. Gov. Greg Abbott announced $54 million in total JET grants were awarded statewide.
The program allows students to see what it is like to work on a vessel without ever leaving the computer lab at Mary Carroll High School. District officials said it will help them purchase and install equipment needed.
"The students are able to actually have the real world brought into the classroom," said Melody Pro-Smith, CCISD Career in Technical Education (CTE) coordinator.
Pro-Smith said the JET grant will help purchase 12 double monitors for 24 students. But that is just the first phase, expected to be installed by late Spring 2023. She said CCISD will seek another grant for the second phase after the monitors are installed.
"The other phase of it, they actually get the hands on, you know, they actually get the ship steering wheel," Pro-Smith said. "They get what they would see in a ship setting."
The second phase, a hands-on ship simulator, was shown to district officials on a trip to Houston ISD in 2022. CCISD maritime instructor Vincente Carreon said it will help teach students how to control a vessel before they begin their careers.
"These are the simulators that they would be training for when they're going for their captain's license," Carreon said. "So, it's not a far step from what the industry is using and we can just do it at the high school level."
A retired U.S. Coast Guard marine inspector, Carreon said he brings experience with him to help teach students about Corpus Christi port. He said the simulator will help for when they get on real ships.
"How to pilot a boat, what it looks like to be at an anchorage, what it looks like to drive up into the ship channel of Corpus Christi," Carreon said. "To arrive at the terminals, and just to get a real sense of the type of careers that we're trying to get them interested in."
The program is housed at Carroll High School, but it is open to all high school students and incoming freshmen in CCISD. In the first program's first year, 60 students are currently enrolled and can be bussed there district-wide for its two class periods.
As a four year program, Pro-Smith said she hopes it will gets students credentials they need for work after graduation or college programs.
"We're actually creating that pipeline for the maritime program and so it's really going to enhance what our students are learning in the field," Pro-Smith said.
Pro-Smith says the program is open enrollment until February 6 and students can join regardless of grade.
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