by Dani Cooke
From an expanding student body to a new science lab, from new teachers to a new head-of-school, every Watershed student knows change to be a constant. Within such development, however, seeing a return to foundations is equally as refreshing.
In addition to the standard head-of-school responsibilities, Tim Breen is kicking off his first year at Watershed by “revising, revisiting, and reaffirming” the Design Principles laid out in 2004 by the school’s founders, Jason Berv and Sumaya Abu-Haidar. These ten principles, now unfamiliar to even the lifetime Watershed student, were developed to reflect the best education practices possible based on the founders’ research as graduate students in education. In the words of the founders, they were created “to inform the creation and development of the Watershed School” and to “focus our vision, remind us of what is important, and inform our decisions.”
This review process, consisting of feedback from students, parents, trustees, board members, teachers, administration, and even Jason Berv himself, is closely tied to the idea of culture-keeping amid change. “We’re reconnecting with our history,” Tim explains. “We are very deliberately looking at the founding principles of the school and using those as the jumping off point for the future of the school.”
So, why now? Before Tim started as head-of-school at Watershed, he spent time learning about the history of the Watershed School by looking at the website in archive.org’s “Wayback Machine.” There, he found the ten Design Principles and immediately saw it as an opportunity to reconnect with and revive Watershed’s conceptual foundations. “Sometimes, you internalize things like the Design Principles so much that you stop talking about them until there’s change and evolution among the student body or teachers,” he explains.
For the future of the school, Tim Breen envisions an ever-evolving set of Design Principles in order to continually align the school with the best educational practices and most relevant values possible.
To learn more about the original Design Principles, take a look at the Watershed School website in the Wayback Machine: