Emily Schimelman of Middletown, CT has been named the 2013 recipient of the Mystic Seaport Orion Award for Excellence in Experiential Education. She was honored at a reception at the Museum’s Maritime Gallery on September 27.
The Award is bestowed annually by Mystic Seaport on educators who create meaningful and innovative learning experiences for their students by utilizing the Museum’s collections, programs, and learning resources. The Orion Award recognizes teachers who infuse history, math, science, and literature with a maritime focus and are an inspiration to their students and their colleagues.
Schimelman is a fourth grade teacher at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, CT. She teaches reading, language arts, and specializes in social studies. With the help of Mystic Seaport staff, she created a year-long unit on American whaling, life at sea, and the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan. The hands-on, project-based unit focuses on artifacts, primary sources, artwork, music, acting, journal writing, and critical thinking to inspire lifelong learning through exploration.
Schimelman also masterminded the creation of a Mystic Festival at Hamden Hall, where students created 12 booths representing primary aspects of the whaling unit. Students collaborated in small groups where they researched their topic and created the content and activities for their station. Participants were given 15 minutes at each booth before they rotated to the next.
As the point person for a new partnership between Mystic Seaport and Hamden Hall, Schimelman has fostered a constructive relationship of program development and evaluation for both institutions. She is also contributing to the creation of Mystic Seaport for Educators, an online learning community that will use historic artifacts in the Museum’s collections to build interactive learning tools for educators and students. Mystic Seaport for Educators is a key component of the Museum’s “Year of the Charles W. Morgan” in Connecticut, a series of learning tools and programs that utilize the ship and her 2014 38th Voyage to teach a range of subject material, including but not limited to history.
“We chose to honor Emily Schimelman with this Award because she understands that primary sources and hands-on research are more than just a fun experience—they create an opportunity for students to develop and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are integral components of the new Common Core State Standards being implemented in schools today,” said Sarah Cahill, director of Education at Mystic Seaport.
About the Award
The Orion Award for Excellence in Experiential Education was introduced in 2005 in honor of the Museum’s 75th Anniversary. Named for one of the most familiar constellations – the Hunter Orion, son of the sea god Poseidon – Orion has often marked the course for many seagoing vessels. Through the Orion Award, Mystic Seaport acknowledges the unique skills and abilities of teachers to link disciplines and communicate ideas with their students, helping their students navigate the course of life.