Bob Moore charts a new course

He’s retiring after 20 years as director of the Charter School.

Back row, from left: Matheus Magri, Luciano Baldwin Owen Natusch, Tyler Grasing, Olive MacPhail, Jonathan Graham, Sophia Roads, Juliana DeSouza, Lucia Capece, Bob Moore, Violet MacPhail, Ella Blodgett, and Connecticut Langhammer. Front, from left: Grace Robinson, Michael Mello and Hudson Riordan. —Gabrielle Mannino

After 20 years at the helm of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, Bob Moore celebrates with the students, parents, teachers, and school community — past and present — on Sunday, May 27, from 12 to 3 pm, with a BBQ in his honor on the playground of the school.

There is much to celebrate — the kids adore him, parents trust him, and the faculty respects him. The school is all the better for Bob, with his legacy steeped in the strength of the six pillars (explained below in Bob’s own reflections on leaving). His philosophy will be remembered and continued as we grow as a school and a community, making the celebration bittersweet as Bob sees out his last days as the Charter School director.

He may be retiring, but Bob’s work will continue in the beauty of the morning meetings and in the spirit of the Charter School, as teachers encourage all kids to find their way, their passion, and their creative expression. Bob dedicated years to the health and wellness of the school; he nurtured it by way of sound and fair leadership for all children, parents, and faculty, and he has seen the Charter School into full bloom.

Over the years we parents listened as he addressed our kids, all tightly assembled sitting on the floor of “Main Street,” the main hall in the web of little wooden classrooms and corridors that make up the school. Bob is famous for his tear-inducing and heart-uplifting welcome-back-to-school speeches, and for his commencement address for our departing seniors on graduation day. He has taught us all. He delivered motivation, values, and direction to all who listened over the years. Between the speeches, he led by example and with a steady, fair approach that kept the day-to-day running of the school to a high standard of respect. He led with a solid understanding that the success of the self-learner is important not just today and tomorrow, but that learning is lifelong.

Last Friday, sixth graders Grace Robinson and Violet MacPhail interviewed Bob during his final days as director. We all sat in Bob’s office, positioned just off the front desk and welcome area. The office was bright and airy, with open windows facing the playground. A warm spring air breezed through as the young journalists readied their pens and paper.

Hi, Bob. How did you become a director?

When the Charter School director’s job came up, I interviewed and got it. I came home when I came to the Charter School. I love teaching, still do.


How has the school changed over the years?

When I came here we had four trailers; we had no classrooms. Every summer we got rid of a trailer and built a classroom; that took about seven or eight years. The Charter School has grown from 125 students, grades 1-10, to 185 students, K-12, since I arrived 20 years ago, in 1998. The Charter School has had 18 high school graduations, and 133 students have received diplomas.

What are your favorites things about the Charter School? And what’s your favorite color?

The voice of the student. They have a big role to play and decisions to make. From the choices they make in offerings, project period, and artist-in-residence, they bring their passions into their studies.

My favorite color is blue. And the teachers, they are favorites, just great people.

I love blue too [Grace said]. So, any special moments you want to tell us about?

Special moments are every morning meeting. The meetings illustrate the emphasis on community; the individuals are important, and every day we celebrate the achievements and success of the students and the student body as a whole.

What will you do after the school?

Who knows? What’s important is the school is in good standing, good teachers, robust enrollment, and supportive families. (Bob places his fingers to his eyes and rubs them, and I could have sworn there was a breeze of dust because we all have tears in our eyes.) It’s been a wonderful experience; I’ve learned a lot. Now, time for morning meeting.


And we are ushered out into Main Street for a very busy Grandparents Day.

Bob Moore’s own reflections

The opportunity to work at a school from its third year through its 23rd year and watch it become a valued part of the educational choices for families on Martha’s Vineyard has been a wonderful journey. The families I have met and the students and teachers I have worked with have been special, and have made the Charter School a very special place.

The Charter School’s Pillars were devised in the first month of the first year, 1996, and continue to be the foundation of the school’s work. Cooperation, Democracy, Freedom, Respect, Responsibility, and Trust are alive and well at the Charter School in 2018, and will continue to guide the work of our students, families, and teachers moving forward.

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School is well positioned to successfully move through its third decade and beyond with the mission of multi-age, child-centered learning. The mission is as strong today as it was when the founders opened the school in 1996. The students’ voices and input are revered, and play a major role in the everyday life of the school. The school’s culture is one of respect and trust. In my 2006 Graduation Welcome Address, I spoke about an aspect of the Charter School’s mission involving the group. “The group will make decisions together and recognize the unique contributions from each member.” Every day at the Charter School begins with morning meeting, when we come together as a whole school to celebrate achievements, make announcements, discuss topics that pertain to the whole community, and select a Person of the Day. Community is important and vital at the K-12 Charter School.

I mentioned in my 2005 Graduation Welcome Address, “The Charter School philosophy centers around personalizing learning for each student. Education is most meaningful when the student is invested by choice.” The teachers strive to engage the students’ interests and passions into the curriculum and learning process. Visitors to the Charter School often make the observation that the students are engaged in their learning, and the student-adult interactions are meaningful and respectful.

Community engagement has been at the core of the Charter School’s work. The school has been blessed with outstanding teachers throughout its history who have encouraged our students to become informed and involved local and global citizens. My 2009 Graduation Welcome Address included a statement from the Charter School’s original charter regarding school/community relationships. “Involvement in the community beyond the school walls is an important aspect of the Charter School. Our hope is that boundaries between school and community become blurred; each will feel more part of each other.” The M.V. Museum, Polly Hill, The Trustees of Reservations, artists who have taught in our artists-in-residence program, and Islanders who have served as mentors to our high school students have assisted our students to better understand the community in which they live. Our eighth grade trips to Italy and high school trips to Guatemala, Spain, Cuba, Washington, D.C., and Alaska gave our students a better understanding of the world beyond our shores.

And my final Charter School Graduation Welcome Address on June 3, 2018, will center on the qualities of initiative, leadership, creativity, and curiosity that are found in the graduation class of 2018. These qualities are highly regarded at the Charter School, and are essential to being actively involved and participatory in the 21st century.

Working at the Charter School has been inspiring as well as a wonderful learning experience for me. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of a caring and thoughtful undertaking. I thank everyone who has assisted me and the Charter School on this journey.

On Sunday, May 27, from 12 to 3 pm, we celebrate Bob’s dedication and retirement. Come celebrate with us; alumni and the Island community are all welcome.