Teachers: Go ahead! Apply! Your district will be proud of you!

Written by Alejandra Martinez, Outreach Officer on Exp. 360

Let’s face it, one of the main reasons you haven’t applied to be an Onboard Outreach Officer aboard the JOIDES Resolution is because you’re thinking, “No way will my principal/superintendent/district let me miss school for 2 whole months!” I’m here to tell you I thought the exact same thing, but you don’t really know until you ask.

I jumped head first into my application and before I knew it I was sailing aboard Expedition 360, Southwest Indian Crust and Moho, the first of 3 planned expeditions to drill to the mantle.

I would like to say my plan to convince my principal and district was well orchestrated, but it was not. Things just fell into place for me and I would like to share my experience with you, the reluctant applicant, in the hopes that some of these tips will encourage you to take the leap and apply.


Your Principal

As part of the application you will need to submit a letter of support from your principal or a district official. This letter must state that you will be allowed to serve as an Onboard Outreach Officer if you are selected. You will need to be prepared for the meeting in which you request this letter.


  1. Write up a list of how this experience will benefit your classroom and the school as a whole. I have great coworkers that facilitated webcasts with each of my class periods while I was gone. They combined classes and almost all our 7th graders at Memorial Junior high saw science in action, got a tour of the JOIDES Resolution, and were able to interact with the scientists on board.
  2. Set their minds at ease about what your students might miss out on without you in the classroom. I was lucky enough to know a great retired teacher for my permanent substitute. The control freak in me left her a USB stick and binder with notes, handouts, and labs I wanted my students to do while I was gone. Just a little extra planning way ahead of time allowed my students to continue on science-ing without me.
  3. Outline how you will use your experience in the classroom before, during, and after your expedition. While onboard I wrote chemistry, life, physical and Earth science lesson directly correlated to our state objectives. Plan activities like exploring the JOIDES Resolution website or YouTube channel prior to your departure. I visited schools all over the district and introduced students to the expedition they would later see in action through a webcast. I visited those same schools after my expedition and brought them peripheral rock material from our drill site.


Your District

I highly recommend you start building a relationship between you and your district officials today. The earlier you do this they more familiar they will be with you, your work ethic, and what you do in your classroom.  They will then be more likely to afford you opportunities like developmental leave so that you can participate in expeditions.

  1. Volunteer to serve on districtwide committees. It was through our District Wide Improvement Council that I first got to know our superintendent. I was able to give input on issues and share my ideas to better the district.
  2. Invite your superintendent, school board, and other district officials to your annual science night, open house, or other cool even. Nothing coming up soon? Have them come check out the cool lab you are doing with your students next week.
  3. Brag about yourself. Yes, I hate it too, but who else knows about ALL the cool stuff you do? Email photos of your kids doing that amazing lab to your district PR department. Ask them to add that video your students made to the district You Tube channel. District officials rarely have the time to familiarize themselves with what is going on in the classroom. You have to broadcast all the awesome things you are doing to raise your profile.


An Onboard Outreach officer’s job is to highlight what the JOIDES Resolution is currently doing. Why not get some practice in and highlight all the awesome stuff you are already doing in your classroom? Do it! And apply to be on board the JR’s next expedition!

N Kurtz
Outreach Manager
More articles by: N Kurtz

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