Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tall Ship Academy office closes

On June 30, 2009, Molly Simmons and I took one last look around the Tall Ship Academy office and then shut the door. The office is officially closed.

Since 2003, San Francisco State, or more directly the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism has hosted the Tall Ship Education Academy in a bright, sunny office in the HSS building, Room 300. Space is at a premium at the University, and both the Recreation Department (headed over the years by Dr. Ginny Jaquith, Dr. Jim Murphy and currently Dr. Pat Tierney) and the College of Health and Human Services (headed by Dean Don Taylor) have had to fight hard to keep this piece of real estate for the Tall Ship Academy. Because the Tall Ship Academy is now in suspension, we have relinquished the office space.

During this suspension, our physical mailing address remains the same, in care of the Recreation Department at SFSU. Our website is still up, and tells the story of our current suspension. To contact us, use email as we no longer have a phone number.

We will keep posting to this blog as we move through our suspension.

Nettie Kelly

Monday, June 8, 2009

TSEA receives continued WASC accreditation

In March of this year, the Tall Ship Education Academy underwent a review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This review insures that our programs are educationally sound, and deserve recognition among other educational institutions.

Our first review, in March 2006, resulted in a three year accreditation period. This year, a small team of board, staff and volunteers conducted a self-study that was presented to the WASC committee. The committee visited the Tall Ship Academy just before the girls left on their voyage to ground truth the study. They talked to board members, SFSU staff, TSEA faculty and of course, the students.

This week, we received the letter from WASC stating that we have continued accreditation through 2015! This is a great accomplishment and another sign of the effectiveness of the TSEA programs.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tall Ship Semester for Girls Graduation 2009

This year's group of Tall Ship girls have become known amongst the instructors as beacons of fair weather and tonight was no exception. The event started around 3:30pm when the newly created sailing vessel Hiromi-Maru was launched into aquatic park. There was a fair breeze, so the first launching was in rowboat form; quickly, the breeze decrease to perfect launching weather and the Hiromi-Maru went for her first sail. A beautiful sight!
After the boat launch, the weather continued to be uncharacteristically balmy as family and friends gathered on the historic Balclutha to hear graduation speeches from the girls. They did a fantastic job and we concluded the evening with celebratory cake. Congratulations to the class of 2009!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

TSEA in the SF Chronicle

Click here to see our name in the Water Front section of the Chronicle

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday, May 21: Open House at the Boat Shop

Our TSSG 2009 crew is hard at work building a Granny Pram, under the guidance of boatbuilders at the San Francisco National Maritime Park. On Thursday evening, May 21, we will open the boat shop up to those who wanted to come by and see the work-in-progress.

When: Thursday, May 22, 2009, 6-8pm
Where: The Small Boat Shop at San Francisco National Maritime Park, Hyde St. Pier, San Francisco
RSVP: to Nettie Kelly at or call 415-405-3703

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tall Ship Education Academy to suspend operations in June

The Tall Ship Education Academy, like many wonderful non profits, has been losing significant funding over the past year of economic turmoil. Because of this, our Board of Directors recently made the tough decision to suspend operations of the Tall Ship Education Academy for the next year or two.

During this suspension, we will not run our programs: Tall Ship Semester for Girls, Girls Summer at Sea or Women's Challenge. We will become a fully volunteer organization and close our office at SF State. We will continue to maintain a web presence, and the same physical mailing address in care of the Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism at SF State University. We will keep you updated as we move through this suspension in this blog and with an occasional email newsletter.

We will have two significant projects during the suspension. The first is to conduct and complete a research project around the effectiveness of the Tall Ship Semester for Girls. This project is long overdue, and we feel it will put us in a stronger position to re-open our doors in the future. We have several people interested in this project and hope that alums, parents and educators will be open to participating in their work.

The second project is to involve our stakeholders in the shaping of the future of the Tall Ship Education Academy. We plan to gather a group of supporters in the fall to help shape the future of the organization. If you are interested in being a part of that conversation, please contact Nettie Kelly at

This year, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the very first Tall Ship Semester for Girls. As many of you know, the Tall Ship Education Academy began with a pilot project in 1998 run by Caitlin Schwarzman as part of her Masters Thesis at SF State University. Due to its success, Mercy High School supported Caitlin in expanding the one week pilot to a full semester program. In the spring of 1999, twelve girls explored the California and Mexico coast aboard the Californian. The next year, Nettie Kelly joined the 2nd Tall Ship Semester for Girls, as an instructor and the following year became the director of the program.

We are very proud of the work that we have done in providing a life-changing experience for over 125 girls. Our continued contact with these girls shows that they are confidently pursuing education, participating in their community and exploring the world. We will look to this core group of people to be a part of our research efforts in the near future, and as integral members of the next phase of this organization.

In ten years, the Tall Ship Semester for Girls has evolved into a Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredited non profit educational organization. We are recognized for providing powerful developmental experiences for Bay Area young women. We are truly a community based organization, depending on the support of individuals, organizations, foundations and institutions for our existence. The suspension of our programs is in some ways a symptom of the health of our community.

We want to thank you for your interest in and support of the Tall Ship Education Academy. We have done our work because you have been a part of our vision for girls’ education. We hope you will continue to play that vital role in our community.

Update: Tall Ship Semester for Girls 2009

The Tall Ship Semester for Girls returned from an adventurous six week voyage on April 30. Their voyage track took them from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands, south to Dominca, a quick stop in Nevis, on to the Dominican Republic and Great Inagua (Bahamas), a check into the United States in Fernandina Beach, Fl and a final stop in Cumberland Island, GA. In addition to school visits on most of the islands, the girls had other adventures including fantastic snorkeling, hiking to a boiling lake, seeing monkeys and meeting sea turtle hatchlings, enjoying salt flats and flamingo colonies as well as armadillos and alligators. Their voyage adventures are chronicled on their blog at:

Now back in San Francisco, the girls are using their teamwork skills to build a Granny Pram (small wooden boat) in the Small Boat Shop at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. They are also completing final academic projects at SF State University. They are preparing reflective speeches for their upcoming graduation ceremony. If you are on our snail mail list, check your mailbox soon for a copy of the Bitter End, their own newsletter.

We invite you to this year’s graduation on June 5 at 6pm on the historic tall ship Balclutha at Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco. During the graduation, our newest crew of alums will share their stories and reflections as a part of the celebration of their experience. This year we will also celebrate the Tall Ship Education Academy and its 10 year contribution to the community. Please join us and RSVP to or 415.405.3703.