Students learn better when they have strong connections with the people around them. At Watershed, students can be true to themselves, while being connected to others in a real community.
We have a good time learning and playing at Watershed, but community doesn't mean that everything's perfect. Students at every school, including Watershed, experience social conflict and discomfort. What makes Watershed different is a commitment to being a brave space for students to learn how to be part of a community. We challenge students to resolve conflict, acknowledge mistakes, build connections, and bring their authentic selves to school every day.
Our classroom teachers are knowledgable subject matter experts. But more importantly, they're mentors, coaches, and trail guides. The teacher you have in the classroom is the same person who might lead you on a trip to Guatemala. They might be the same person who takes you on a nine-day backcountry trip at the beginning of the year. They're definitely people who take you off campus into the real world. With these shared experiences, it's no wonder that student-teacher relationships at Watershed are so supportive and close.
All students are assigned an advisor who will work with them throughout middle school or high school. Each advisory is a small group of 8-10 students across grades who get to know each other well. Advisory is a place to check in, to ask for help, and to get guidance on your academic career. But it's also a place to play games, to go on activities off campus, and to work jointly on projects that benefit the community.
Watershed students meet with their advisory twice a week, and with advisors one-on-one as needed. For parents, Watershed advisors are the "first call" to the school, a caring adult who's keeping tabs on your child's progress - academic, extracurricular, social, and emotional.
The research is clear: when it comes to long-term success, who you are is just as important as what you know. At Watershed, we build seven character traits using common language shared by everyone in the community: optimism, gratitude, empathy, curiosity, social intelligence, self-control, and grit.
This shared vocabulary is applied in multiple, real-world contexts: in the classroom, on Wilderness, during global travel, and through shared community activities. We provide opportunities for students to reflect on their character development, as well as providing feedback on these traits during teacher narratives and student conferences.
Building awareness of your strengths - and setting goals for personal growth - is at the heart of the community experience.
Each week ends with student-led intramural activities, with six all-school "houses" pulling together students from all grades for friendly competition and play. Activities include sledding, Ultimate Frisbee, "Yeti," and dodgeball, among others. Before leaving for the weekend, the school gathers in a circle to share appreciations.
High school and middle school gathers every day for student announcements. We begin with a moment of silence and end by sharing appreciations. Gathering is a time to check-in on the logistics of a fast-paced school day, as well as to connect and appreciate being with each other.