Charleston Race Week to host US Sailing’s STEM Educator Course

Published on March 11th, 2014

For the past decade, proceeds from Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week are donated to support nonprofit sailing organizations in the Charleston area, including Veterans on Deck and Charleston Community Sailing. For 2014, the organizers have partnered with US Sailing to support that organization’s STEM education initiative – REACH.

Launched in 2012, U.S. Sailing’s REACH program is a combination of sailing and STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) for middle school students. Using a 10-point curriculum aligned with national school standards, the REACH program offers lessons using wind data, meteorology and more. The goal of the program is to create partnerships between schools and sailing centers that can ultimately get more kids out on the water and provide them with a unique learning experience. With programs in 200 locations and in five countries, US Sailing’s REACH program exposes an entirely new demographic to sailing that wouldn’t otherwise have an awareness of the sport.

According to Jessica Servis, who manages the REACH program for US Sailing, “This program focuses on answering all of the questions that kids have when they first get on the water, such as ‘What makes a boat sail?’ and, “How does that work?’ The program addresses the science of sailing, and it also includes lessons about water chemistry and the marine environment.” Servis explains that the program uses inquiry-based instruction. “We use sailing as a tool to impart STEM lessons. It’s very effective and very much in the vein of experiential learning, which can be powerful.”

This year, Charleston Race Week will participate by hosting US Sailing’s STEM Educator Course. This one-day course will be offered to local teachers, sailing instructors, and leaders from nonprofit organizations who work with middle school students. The world’s largest sailboat builder – Groupe Beneteau USA – will provide 10 scholarships to the course for teachers who work with at- risk students in the Charleston and Marion, SC areas.

How powerful is REACH? Just ask Celia Oprinovich, a REACH veteran and lead teacher at Indiana Sailing Association. “I certainly enjoyed my teaching experience with the REACH modules and the educators’ class that I participated in at Strictly Sail Chicago. Since then, the modules have totally engaged our 7th and 8th grade students. As a retired middle school math teacher with the Chicago Public Schools, I appreciate the nontraditional, hands-on approach to science and math instruction that these modules offer. The STEM materials motivate even the most reluctant of our learners. But best of all, the learning is fun!” (Indiana Sailing Association is a non-profit youth sailing organization that utilizes the REACH modules in a collaborative effort with the Communities in Schools of East Chicago, Ind.)

Charleston Race Week will mark the first time that U.S. Sailing’s REACH program has been offered in a regatta setting. According to Servis, the program has the potential to dramatically grow the sport and to enrich the educational experience of kids across the country.

“The organizers of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week are pleased to offer the experience at this year’s event,” said Event Director Randy Draftz, “The REACH program is a terrific fit for our regatta. We’ll be helping teachers find a truly effective way to connect learning for their students, and ultimately, we’ll be exposing more kids to the sport of sailing.”

To find out more about U.S. Sailing’s REACH program, visit: For more information about Charleston Race Week, please visit


About Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week runs from April 10 through April 13, 2014 and is open to all sailboats 20 to 80 feet in length. (The offshore classes accept boats from 24 to 80 feet, but only those capable of sailing offshore.) The event is owned and managed by Charleston Ocean Racing Association, and is supported by Sperry Top-Sider, Vineyard Vines, Gosling’s Rum, and Quantum Sail Design Group. Additional sponsors include the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, the Town of Mt. Pleasant, Gill, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, B&G/Simrad, Dimension Polyant, Azalea Moving and Storage, Newport Shipyard, Bainbridge, and Torqueedo Outboards, along with Charleston Community Sailing, West Marine, Pierside Boatworks, College of Charleston Sailing Association, Harken, Charleston Yacht Club, Carolina Yacht Club, Hobcaw Yacht Club,James Island Yacht Club, Sail Charleston, Boating Basement, Farr 280 One Design, Coffee Roasters of Charleston and

About Sperry Top-Sider
Since 1935, Sperry Top-Sider has been the leading brand of footwear for those with a Passion for the Sea®. From its introduction of the world’s first siped rubber outsole for non-marking traction to advanced technical fabrication designed to combat the elements, Sperry Top-Sider remains the standard for men’s and women’s boat shoes, high-performance amphibious footwear and apparel for life and activities in, on and around the water.

Sperry Top-Sider’s distinct, classic collections of men’s and women’s boat shoes, loafers, sandals, and more are available online at and around the globe in independent, marine, outdoor, and department stores. Sperry is the title sponsor of the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week and the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas, and is also the official footwear of the U.S. Sailing Association. The brand also sponsors high-profile watersport athletes who are part of Team Sperry Top-Sider.

About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. For more information, please visit

Source: Dan Dickison, Media Director, Charleston Race Week

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