For Highlands neighbor and independent school leader, Vince Watchorn, our history informs our future. That history is all around us. And that future starts now.
“Look up!” he says. “If you look at the architecture [and] read the plaques, your mindset will start to shift. You won’t just see right now. You’ll see how we got here. And the more we understand how we got here, the better we can plot where we’re going.”
Vince is Wilmington born and raised, a graduate, former Trustee, former teacher, and Alumni Service Award recipient of The Tatnall School.
As an independent school leader with more than 25 years of experience including as head of Providence Country Day School, his work has increasingly focussed on equity and inclusion. He says it’s been an area of interest since being immersed in an especially impactful African American Studies curriculum as a Tatnall student in the Eighties.
“We were reading Richard Wright and Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. Some schools struggle still to get those authors on the reading list. So it was a place where we were really expanding mindset, I think, about race.”
“The diversity [and] inclusion piece has been what I’ve really been drawn to, because it’s where we have the greatest need, and where we, as a culture, just can’t seem to get out of our own way to address a lot of the systemic problems that we’ve developed over centuries.”
“If we can see the system of racism,” he says, “We can work to interrupt it: breaking stereotypes, calling out a racist joke, [or] thinking about where we spend our money.”
“Maybe the most exciting thing happening in all of Wilmington right now is the Reach Riverside redevelopment program downtown. It’s just an astonishing sort of cradle to college education program, holistic community revitalization effort that’s built on community voice. It is unbelievably important.”
Vince’s passion for local history brings together this commitment to our future. As President of Friends of Cooch’s Bridge Historical Site, he is working to preserve, protect and study the site of the 1777 Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, located on Old Baltimore Pike in Newark, Delaware.
“There’s relevant history that goes back to when the Lenape roamed hundreds of years ago, before they were driven away by European settlement. There’s milling history. The infrastructural footprint is still there. You can go and see all the different water forces still in place to drive the different mills.”
“There’s even a huge stand of old growth forest! You can’t believe you’re within 100 yards of I-95!”
“The opportunity to tell a full and complete story, where a full and complete story has not been told before,” Vince says, “and to engage and provide broader access [to the community] is compelling.”
“And the opportunity to explore African American History in an area that we haven’t had the chance to as part of Delaware’s history is really important.”