During my first visit to Watershed, I was asked by a student in the “Body and Soul” expedition: “What do you think it means to be human?” As I would come to learn, it’s the kind of question that’s characteristic of a Watershed education. It’s essential, it’s transdisciplinary, and it comes from a place of enormous curiosity.
But it’s also the kind of question adults are rarely asked, and I didn’t have a canned response. Eventually, I answered that human beings are poised between being and becoming – and we are always in a position to reflect on that process of growth and change. Another way of putting it is: to be human is to learn. As an educator, this is what motivates me to come to work every day.
Watershed is a special place. One reason why is that it recognizes every student’s innate capacity for learning and growth. Young people learn by doing challenging, meaningful, real-world work. At Watershed, they have the chance to do so.
On our campus – and, more importantly, on expeditions that take students into the Front Range, Silicon Valley, and abroad – students are doing work that matters. They are asking, and investigating, questions that they care about. They are learning to collaborate in a team and apply what they’ve learned. And when it’s time for them to show what they know, they don’t just share it with a teacher – they share it with the community.
By committing ourselves to educational best practices, Watershed School is redefining what education should look like. We are doing so in manner that is being recognized by competitive colleges, by external assessments, and even The New York Times. Watershed develops students as critical thinkers and creative problem solvers able to do real work.
For example, we have been administering the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) for five years. The CWRA measures the value that a school adds to the students’ ability to analyze real-world problems and write effectively about solutions – exactly the skills that young adults will need as they enter college and the workplace. Each year, Watershed students demonstrate more growth than 95% of schools taking the assessment.
Another indication is our 100% college acceptance rate. Recent graduates have been accepted to Brown, Emerson, Reed, Colorado College, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Lewis and Clark, among others.
But the most important indication of our success is the genuine love that our students have for learning, for coming to school, and for their community.
This matters to me as an educator, but also as a father. When I think of my young daughters, I can’t imagine an environment that would do a better job of nurturing their passion for learning, cultivating their sense of adventure, and preparing them for the real world of the 21st century.
Thank you for your interest in this remarkable school.
Greg Bamford, M.Ed.
Head of School