West School Students Have Tugboat Adventure

Schools and Libraries

June 19, 2013



After Superstorm Sandy destroyed the entire first floor of their school, students from West School in Long Beach have had to endure many challenges. After first attending classes at East School, students made a second move to Lindell School, where the students in Linda Fuller’s third-grade class made their temporary home in a classroom overlooking Reynolds Channel. As her students watched, tugboats towed away debris on barges — the first step toward rebuilding the storm-ravaged Long Beach community. To create a teachable moment from this tragedy, Ms. Fuller focused her students’ attention on logging the tugboats’ many trips and wondering how they got their names.


“I got the idea to write to a tug company to ask if they owned one of the tugboats that we saw out our window, and if so, I thought they might give us a toot,” said Ms. Fuller. “I explained that I was trying to make this a year they remembered for something great, not the year many of them lost their houses and their school.”


Ms. Fuller received a return letter from Glenn Miller of Miller’s Launch in Staten Island. He said he was not involved in the Long Beach debris removal, but would still love to help make a great memory for her students. Mr. Miller invited the entire class to visit his facility to take a tugboat ride around the Statue of Liberty. School administrators worked with Ms. Fuller to set up the trip and parents gladly contributed to help pay for the bus ride to Staten Island.


Wearing T-shirts that Mr. Miller made them for the occasion, and outfitted with hard hats and life jackets, the students took off on their tugboat adventure, picking up a barge to tow. They enjoyed a feast of pizza and ice cream that was delivered to them on the barge, and when they returned to the dock, an ice cream truck, which was waiting for them, backed right onto the barge to serve everyone a refreshing treat. Mr. Miller, who is also on the board of directors of the John Noble Museum, even had the museum on call to receive them as guests in the case of inclement weather.


“My students will never forget this year,” said Ms. Fuller. “Thanks to Mr. Miller, they will have a very happy and lasting memory of an otherwise challenging year.”


The students were so impressed with their adventure that they put together a presentation to highlight all that they had learned from this once-in-a-lifetime experience.