Ten Years and Many Roles at the Watershed School

Ralph Moore joins some of this year’s graduates following senior project presentations at Watershed. L to R: graduating seniors, Jake Maxmin, Clio Berta, Trustee Ralph Moore, Elijah McPhail and Eliot Low.

For Ralph Moore, ten years as a founder, parent, teacher and trustee of the Watershed School in Camden created a rich experience.

“The school gave me a place to use skills I was not able to use in other parts of my life,” said Moore as he reflected on his ten years of service to Watershed. Moore moves off the Board of Trustees this month but plans to continue his involvement through the formation of a formal advisory board, reuniting some of those involved in the first efforts to start the school.

After this week’s senior project presentations at the school’s home on Washington Street in Camden, Moore took time to reflect on his various roles. In 1996 he and his wife, Bridget Buck, had a young son at the Ashwood School. “We loved the quality of experience and the nurturing our son was receiving and we wondered how to continue a similar experience at the high school level,” recalled Moore. During the summer of 2001 and into 2002 a group of parents began meeting in “a variety of kitchens” across the mid-coast where they “pooled their backgrounds and education experiences” to begin to conceive the formation of the Watershed School.

According to Moore, “One member of the group decided we needed a timeline to open in the fall of 2003 and that forced our hand to create some organizational structure.” The founding members held community meetings seeking input and inviting supporters at various mid-coast locations. The school opened in the fall of 2003 under the direction of Phil Gerard with its 501c3 status intact. “I felt very confident this could work,” added Moore noting the strength of commitment of the school’s supporters.

Moore’s son, Danji Buck-Moore, was amongst the first graduates of the school to complete the four year high school experience.

With an undergraduate degree from Stanford, a Masters in Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Ministry from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Moore was charged by the group to develop a curriculum around ethics.  “Ethics belongs as a regular part of our curriculum so why don’t you do it,” Moore recalled. So off he went to some workshops with Maine’s Institute for Global Ethics which was developing a curriculum for secondary schools. Moore has since taught the course with different emphases, including religion, the media, literature and film. “I don’t think any two semesters have ever been alike,” he added. “And teaching in the future is always a possibility for me.”

This fall the Watershed School will celebrate its 10th anniversary. For Moore the school’s values and philosophies are deeply rooted and they hold true across all of his roles. He believes Watershed is on solid ground at its new home on Washington Street in Camden. “All of our work over 10 years has come quickly into focus now and we are a strong community of learners,” he added.

Watershed will celebrate this year’s graduation at the Camden Opera House on Sunday, June 9 at 3:00PM. Community members are invited to attend.

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