He eats lunch with seventh and eighth graders on Wednesdays, shares doughnuts with fifth and sixth graders on Thursdays and reads stories to first and second graders on Fridays. He expects the school to put the students first and he leads by example.

Dr. Robert Moore, the first full time director of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, announced this week that he will retire after 20 years at the helm. He saw the school through expansions of facilities and programs, always striving to keep the focus on the individual students. First hired in 1998, Mr. Moore, 62, will continue in the position until June of 2018.

Mr. Moore has led the charter school since 1998 — Mark Lovewell

During his tenure, he asked that student voices be heard and amplified. He encouraged students to travel and experience life outside the Vineyard, while also including the Island community in the children’s education through internships and work study. He demonstrated what a constant love of learning looks like by always pursuing new interests himself. He championed the kindergarten through 12th grade model and basked in the culture created by the students, teachers and staff alike.

“To be able to build a program like the charter school, basically from the bottom up, over the last 19 years has been a rewarding and wonderful opportunity,” Mr. Moore said, sitting in his office late Wednesday afternoon. “I’m most gracious that I’ve been able to undertake it because of the kindness of the people that hired me, 19 years ago.”

Mr. Moore’s time in the Island’s school system actually began when he was in second grade. His family moved to the Vineyard for a couple years when he was young, and he attended the Tisbury elementary school. Mr. Moore and his brother Billy were one of 12 sets of twins at the elementary school in 1963. He remembered taking his first communion in the building that now houses the superintendent’s office, then a Catholic church.

The Moores lived on Spring street in Vineyard Haven, and although for most of his childhood he grew up in Hyannis, Mr. Moore said it felt like coming home when he returned to the Island for the charter school interview.

Mr. Moore said that he always loved going to school.

“My experience in school was a very positive one, so I thought that was an environment that I’d like to maybe check out. And in Brazil I checked it out big time.”

During his career, Mr. Moore has worked in schools in Tunisia, Brazil, New York city and on the Vineyard. It wasn’t a desire to change the education landscape that led him to progressive education, but rather a natural path in his professional life.

With a degree in history and a teaching certification from University of Massachusetts Amherst, Mr. Moore enlisted in the Peace Corps, moving to Tunis, Tunisia for two years. There he taught English, met his wife Shari and developed a deep love for the Arab culture.

After the Peace Corps, Mr. Moore went into the business world for six years, working in the United States and abroad until a friend from Tunisia offered him a job as a principal at a Pan American school in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

It was there that he learned to value a student-first approach.

“The mentor that I met in Brazil said one thing to me. He said, this is about the student,” Mr. Moore said. “I learned from that day on, every decision I wanted to be part of and every school I wanted to be part of had to have the student at the forefront.”

After four years in Brazil, Mr. Moore returned to U.S. to become an administrator at the Little Red School House, a progressive school in New York’s Greenwich Village, eventually becoming the director of its Middle School. There, he continued to pursue individual based learning, something very attractive to the founders of the Vineyard charter school.

While at the Little Red School House, Mr. Moore worked on his doctorate at New York University, learned to roller blade and enjoyed the excitement of the city. Then, one October day while strolling in Hoboken, N.J., Mr. Moore picked up the Sunday Boston Globe and saw a classified ad seeking a director for the new charter school on Martha’s Vineyard. He put together a resume packet and while visiting his family in Hyannis for Thanksgiving, asked his brother to mail in his application.

There was phone call, a site visit, and Mr. Moore was hired. The charter school, which received its charter in 1995 and opened its doors in 1996, had its first full-time director.

“I thought being involved in a new adventure would be an exciting thing, I had no idea really what I was walking into,” he said. “But I walked into an extraordinary experience that has been really kind to me and something I’ve learned a great deal from.”

Over the years he’s seen the inclusion of state frameworks, the arrival of the MCAS test, its departure and subsequent return. He’s seen the reverence for project-based learning upheld and the continued belief in the pillars of the school — trust, respect, freedom, responsibility, democracy and cooperation — and the students’ rights and responsibilities.

“Those pillars are still the structures that make us move and shake everyday,” he said.

Melding the values of the school with the mandates of the state has been well handled, Mr. Moore said, though he always sees room for improvement.

“I wish we were less worried about test scores and more worried about engaging kids in learning,” he said.

As the core values have remained steady, the charter school infrastructure has grown. When he started, the school was just a main hallway and four trailers. Every couple of years they saved up enough money to replace a trailer with a “pod.” In the last couple years, two new science labs were added to the campus.

In his last year as director, Mr. Moore hopes to focus on creating a smooth transition while continuing to put students first. He hasn’t thought too much about what life after the charter school will look like. He might take up coaching little league again, something he did in the early years on the Vineyard. But there’s at least one popular retirement activity he won’t be doing.

“I’m not a golfer, so I’m not going to be golfing,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr. Moore plans to continue to appreciate everything the job has to offer, including the commute.

“My ride to work every day down State Road, sheep on my left, cows on my right,” he said. “It’s been a beautiful, beautiful, nineteen, twenty years of coming to work every day.”