Climate action, race and ethnicity, Cultures of Diaspora

Watershed School reopens with new programs, science teacher

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 1:15pm

Story Location:
Watershed School
Camden  Maine
United States

CAMDEN — Watershed School, an independent high school in Camden, is scheduled to open to in-person teaching and learning this September. Due to its intentionally small class sizes, recently remodeled building, and use of outdoor space, the school meets the CDC reopening guidelines.

In an effort to continue to provide relevant and important academic offerings, Watershed is unveiling two new programs, the Climate Action & Leadership Lab (CALL) and new interdisciplinary courses that focus on race and ethnicity.

Mila Plavsic, PhD, has been hired to teach science and to oversee the newly formed CALL program. CALL, Watershed’s Climate Action & Leadership Lab, is an interdisciplinary, project-based, and community-oriented semester experience for high school sophomores and juniors from Maine and beyond. Students gain a deep understanding of the environmental, political, economic, ethical, and cultural impacts of a rapidly warming climate in the context of climate action and civic engagement. They collaborate with town government and the community at large on environmental projects, and they serve as mentors for other students and municipalities throughout Maine that are creating their own initiatives to address climate change.

Dr. Plavsic received her Master’s Degree in environmental science from Yale University, and her doctorate in conservation science from the University of Cambridge. She has taught at the University of New England, Babson College, and most recently at the Manhattan High School for Girls in New York City.

She is excited about the opportunity to lead Watershed’s CALL program, according to Watershed, in a news release.

“We are in a climate crisis,” said Dr. Plavsic. “We all must be empowered and educated to make the changes necessary to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change so we can avoid a catastrophic outcome. We need to find ways to take concrete action and think creatively, and that is going to take work from all of us, whether we’re artists, musicians, scientists, writers, or philosophers.”

The CALL program is scheduled to begin in January 2021. Students who don’t live in the Camden area will be housed with local host families.


In addition to the CALL program, Watershed School is offering a course called Race and Ethnicity in the U.S for upperclassmen. Taught by History faculty Joe Kleinman and English faculty Ronni Arno Blaisdell, the course will engage students in issues of identity politics, race, privilege, and ethnicity. The course will emphasize important critical reading and thinking skills, and explore various constructions of racial identity – biological, cultural, and political – while discussing the history of shifting ideas about what race means. Students will critically read both primary and secondary sources; participate in discussions, debates, projects and simulations; and write analytical essays, poetry, and short stories, drawing sophisticated connections between issues of race, politics, and literature.

The course was suggested last January by a Watershed student, who thought it was important to have a class that was focused on Black literature. In discussions about the course, the faculty and students agreed that bringing an interdisciplinary aspect to the class by adding a History component would give the course greater depth and content. 


Ninth and 10th graders will participate in another new course, Introduction to Latinx Literature and the Cultures of Diaspora, taught by Spanish and English faculty member Marieloisa Dowling. Through the interdisciplinary focus on Latinx literature and culture, this course will cultivate the authentic voices of emerging writers. As an introductory English course, its intention is to develop necessary writing skills, both creative and academic, as well as reading comprehension and retention.


“We hope the introduction of these courses is the first step in a multi-step process to bring more diversity to Watershed School,” said Will Galloway, Head of School. “This is a part of our commitment to redesign our academic program to expand diversity in our course offerings and hiring practices, and continue our work to break down economic barriers for anyone seeking an independent high school experience.”


Watershed School is an independent high school located in Camden, serving students who are looking for a challenging academic program in the context of a supportive and enthusiastic school culture. A Watershed education is built on the principle that exceptional individual growth develops out of strong teacher-student relationships within the context of a close-knit community. Faculty concentrate on knowing each student in the school — in terms of learning style, interests, attitude toward learning, challenges, and aspirations — so they can help develop each student’s full potential. The democratic nature of the community develops skills leading to effective citizenship and fosters a healthy affection and sense of responsibility for the school, thereby increasing student openness toward learning, toward each other, and toward adults. The attitudes fostered at Watershed School prepare students for a lifetime of learning and for involvement in local communities and the larger world.


Watershed is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, is a Maine State Approved High School, and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

For more information, please call 207-230-7341 or visit