Guiding Principles


Watershed Public Charter School provides an interconnected learning environment, where hands-on exploration and creative expression foster the learning process. Our community promotes rigorous academic achievement, meaningful outdoor experiences and continuous growth for all students.


Just as all life in a watershed is connected, we believe that learning is most meaningful when it crosses disciplines. Our vision is to provide a rigorous and collaborative learning environment emphasizing artistic expression and scientific exploration of the natural world in and outside the classroom. Students develop critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills, as well as a sense of social responsibility and global awareness that promote a lifelong love of learning.

Guiding Principles

Parents, families and our community as partners.

We want to personally know the teachers, parents, students and families at our school. We will work together in partnership to support the social, emotional and academic needs of our students. We will build upon relationships with strong organizations and partners in our community, bringing their knowledge and wisdom into the classroom and into our whole-family programming. We will support family oriented events and foster a tightly knit community spirit of cooperation.

Children need to be challenged within a supportive academic learning environment. Social needs and life skills should be part of learning.

Collaboration, teamwork and a safe learning environment are motivators for children as they help to build individual self esteem as well as a cohesive learning community. Students will develop respect for themselves, respect for others and for our natural environment. By using an emergent curriculum that adapts with student interests and focusing on mindfulness, we will guide and support our students while also challenging them to grow academically and socially and to develop 21st century leadership and life skills.

Our instructors need the time and support to develop meaningful lessons and connections for our students.

We feel it is extremely important for our educators to have the time and space to collaborate across subjects and grade levels and we will facilitate that process with increased co-planning time. We will support and train our educators to work across disciplines and to incorporate best practices into every lesson they teach. Integration Specialists will support classroom instructors.

We will continually adapt and grow innovative, progressive approaches to teaching and learning.

While state-of-the-art technology and advanced curricula are critical to a child’s academic development, we also recognize and value the multi-sensory learning opportunities that are fostered through learning in the outdoors. Hands on experiential curriculum that links disciplines together into larger multidisciplinary projects will comprise the core of our instruction. Arts, technology, sustainable agriculture and language integration specialists will facilitate the incorporation of those disciplines holistically across the curriculum. We will incorporate cutting edge technology like 3D printing and robotics in ways that enhance instruction rather than replacing it. Technology and nature are not mutually exclusive. Classes will be smaller than a traditional public school. We will incorporate assesment for learning to chart our student’s growth over time to support and augment required standardized testing.

Integration of the arts foster creativity and support and enhance learning.

We value student-directed play and exploration as an opportunity for learning, skill-building, and social development in all grades. Music, Art, Dance and Theatre are not just a weekly class but a part of the culture and daily routines of students. Learning through doing with the arts as a tool is a tremendous tool to support a student’s imagination and creativity and to improve their knowledge retention. When students are engaged and invested in their work, they are excited to learn. By encouraging student’s artistic inclinations, instructors are able to guide and challenge students while identifying emerging interests that can later be woven into lessons and curriculum.

Every voice recognized.

We strive to highlight the special talent in each child and will work hard in our effort for full inclusion. We welcome students with special needs and students who speak english as a second language. We do not discriminate on the basis of culture, religion or race, or sexual orientation and believe that our differences strengthen and improve both social and academic outcomes. Diverse schools promote the celebration and understanding of other cultures and viewpoints, crucial to becoming a globally competitive citizen in our world.

A workshop environment that promotes experimentation and allows for failure.

One of the key components of a workshop environment that fosters creative problem solving and imagination is the allowance for failure. Students should feel comfortable, confident and supported in taking risks, but also understand that not every experiment is a success. A true workshop supports healthy competition, both collaborative and self directed exploration and ownership of projects. Our innovative media center and workshop space design will be a thoughtfully designed physical environment that includes age appropriate study nooks and play spaces, a traditional library, a makerspace with 3D printing, cnc technology, robotics and plenty of tinkering space, a community seed library and a nature library.

Environment as classroom.

Our outdoor space, farm and outdoor classrooms will enhance lessons and be an integral part of instruction. Rather than occasionally visiting natural areas on a field trip, our students will interact and learn from their surroundings on a daily basis. There is a tremendous amount to learn from the natural world across curriculum and by using the environment as an integrating context for learning we are tapping into decades of research that demonstrate this framework engages students, inspires teachers and improves test scores. By incorporating a farm that produces food we connect students directly to growing, harvesting and eating healthy food. We hope to incorporate an educational kitchen space. These hands on learning opportunities will be integrated with core subjects like math and science in addition to teaching students about where their food comes from and the importance of the food system. Once up and running we hope to incorporate a farm to cafeteria program and provide student grown food for healthy school lunches.