Community businesses looking for a New Year’s resolution should think about volunteering at local schools.

The need is greater than ever with school budgets being slashed, directly effecting before- and after-school program resources and staff. It also provides a direct link to the future workforce.

Take G&H Towing, a Galveston company that specializes in maritime services, mainly tugboats. Brittany Riordan is Assistant Director of Safety and Environment for G&H and a member of the Education and Community Outreach program of the Galveston Harbor Safety Committee. She reached out to the Galveston Independent School District to provide an educational after-school class geared toward teaching third- and fourth-grade students at Early Childhood University about the many careers in the maritime field.

After brainstorming with the 21st Century Community Learning Center leaders, G&H came up with curriculum for the class. A handful of volunteers from the company met with students for six sessions during the fall semester and provided hands-on activities involving maritime work. These included a knot-tying lesson, building boats out of aluminum foil to teach students about flotation, displacement and structure, and more.

“The students got a basic understanding about what tugboats do,” Riordan said. “No one really knew what a tugboat did, that this was a career path they could explore.

“It was a heightened sense of awareness and knowledge of jobs that they didn’t have to go to college for.”

In return, despite the good feeling associated with volunteering, the members of G&H Towing had direct access to the workers of tomorrow that may not have been aware of opportunities in their backyard.

Students had the chance to learn from master shipmen and mates, engineers, watch supervisors and relief masters, all who have experience in the maritime trade.

“I feel that there needs to be a shift in the education system that reaffirms our nation’s need of welders, plumbers and tugboat captains,” said Clay Buckley, who works as a mate for G&H Towing.

“Many of these jobs can be obtained with a GED, but with the proper encouragement and oversight, dropout rates may decrease and these same students may instead shoot for graduation, apprenticeship programs or trade schools. These jobs are high paying and can be very rewarding.”

If you’re a business interested in having a direct impact on the lives of young people, contact your local school district and see what you can do to contribute to the next generation.

“When we bring in a volunteer, that’s someone we don’t have to pay,” said Bridgett Temple, 21st Century CLC site coordinator for Early Childhood University.

“They can come in with services and supplies to make a class happen. It’s huge when they work with our students.”

Those interested in working with the district can contact Marianne Pascal Beerstecher, Senior District Coordinator for the 21st Century CLC program, 409-761-3937 or

Guest column

Johnston Farrow is the District Communications Specialist for Galveston ISD.


(2) comments

Gary Miller

I agree volunteers could help schools.
I think it's counter productive when public schools get it. They'll divert resourses from teachers and classrooms equal to the value of the volunteered service. Then won't count the value of the volunteered service in their budget reports.
Responcible businesses should make all donnations to Private or Charter schools who produce better educated graduates with half the money. They'd get a better educated laborforce for less.
Supporting State Charter schools could reduce the cost of union schools.
Donnations to public schools just increase the cost of low quality education.

Island Bred

IHOG - that is so hateful and can you for once (just once) leave politics out of your response!

Really - children of public schools don't deserve the same opportunities because they are in public schools????

Don't you have a tea bag to brew or something???

I think this is a wonderful story - Kudos to G&H towing. As soon as I read that I thought how awesome is that and with the marine side of it the knots could keep kids busy for hours!!!

Love love love this story!!! Sure wish my company would do this. We are a public service company and well known and in the schools all the time but not to teach this sort of stuff. Would be nice if we were. I think children should be exposed to careers all through thier school experience.

Just taking the time to have a show and tell with kids and field questions can be such a life changing experience for some kids! Great article and good luck with maybe some other companies stepping up to help.

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