Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s Chef Instructor, Mark Dougherty

Today’s interview is with Eagle Rock staffer Mark Dougherty, a professional chef who has worked in the kitchens of notable high-end restaurants, hotels, inns, and corporate settings in a number of states. In fact, he’s practiced his culinary skills in New York City as well as four states: Vermont, Connecticut, North Carolina and Florida.

Meet Mark:

Mark-Dougherty-Eagle-RockEagle Rock: How did you get into the culinary field?

Mark: I was a cook on a Coast Guard cutter for two years before pursuing a professional career. Cooking comes easy to me. I love the instant gratification that comes with cooking.

Eagle Rock: What’s your favorite meal/dish to prepare?

Mark: Favorite dish? Depends on the day or season. It is very easy to prepare a dish when you have exceptionally fresh ingredients. I love Asian ingredients and balance of flavors. I love French food because — contrary to popular belief — it embodies a simple approach to cooking. Fresh ingredients and proper techniques equals great food!

Eagle Rock: What’s the one thing you’d never order when eating out, and why?

Mark: I would never order Moo goo gai pan from a Greek diner. (Stick to the basics).

Eagle Rock: What advice do you have aspiring chefs?

Mark: If you are seriously thinking about becoming a chef, I suggest you be prepared to do some very basic tasks over and over again. (Wax on, wax off grasshopper). You need a thick skin and a good sense of humor and a strong grasp of sarcasm, along with a strong work ethic in order to prosper.

Eagle Rock: What is your all-time Eagle Rock success story?

Mark: About six years ago we had several Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Gathering: A Daily Ritual for Coming Together

For those of us who work and learn at Eagle Rock School, community is at the core of our experience. And our daily “Gathering” has long been the centerpiece of that idea.

Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we sit in the hearth area of the Lodge to engage in a 20-minute conversation about community. On Wednesdays, Gathering is held in a number of different ways ­– but that’s a topic for another blog post.

We begin each Gathering with 30 seconds of silence; then we move on to a 10-minute presentation, followed by five minutes of announcements and five minutes of live music. Anyone can sign up to speak at gathering and the topics are as varied as the students and staff themselves.

Eagle-Rock-School-Gathering

A sampling of recent topics is in order:

  • Student Song Candea wowed us with a Dr. Seuss-inspired mid-career personal growth presentation.
  • Eagle Rock receptionist Susie D’Amico shared her knitting talents and talked about aesthetic expression.
  • Our College Tour Explore Week class shared insights from its Midwest tour of college campuses.
  • Sonya Stolmar and Ryan Powell addressed one of our 10 commitments – “Develop my mind through intellectual discipline, my body through physical fitness, and my spirit through thoughtful contemplation.”
  • Since every Gathering wraps up with music, Life After Eagle Rock Fellow Rebecca Fenn on ukulele, along with and wilderness instructor, Matt Bynum on guitar, brought down the house with their own special version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”

We’d like to think a successful Gathering occurs when we walk away thinking differently, inspired by live music, and most important, become reconnected.

Recently I asked Robert Burkhardt, Eagle Rock’s founding head of school, to share some of the history behind our Gatherings. Here’s what he recalls: Continue reading…

Estes Park Duck Race Benefits Eagle Rock Graduate Fund

Estes-Park-Duck-Race-Start-LineThis year’s annual Rotary of Estes Park Duck Race — a huge event that has supported local charities in Colorado’ Estes Valley since 1989 — gets underway May 3 at Nicky’s Restaurant (just alongside the Fall River in downtown Estes Park, Colo.), and is highlighted by thousands of rubber duckies floating across the finish line on the Big Thompson River near Rockwell Street.

This event presents a fantastic opportunity for parents, supporters and fans of Eagle Rock to raise money for a great school-related cause, with $19 of every $20 “duck adoption” ticket going directly to Eagle Rock’s Graduate Fund. That’s about 95 percent of the proceeds, and it’s all made possible because Rotary volunteers like our own Jeff Liddle run the Duck Race, which keeps the costs low.

Last year we raised $8,222 through the sale of these yellow rubber river racers, and we’d like to exceed $10,000 this year. While the major enticement is, of course, to raise funds for Eagle Rock students, Race Day also provides participants with plenty of excitement, music and entertainment, and prizes.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You, the Eagle Rock supporter, ‘adopt’ as many ducks as you can afford at just $20 per duck by visiting EPDuckRace.org.
  2. Then, on Saturday, the 3rd of May, all of the ducks – including the ones you adopt – are dumped in the river at approximately 1pm MST
  3. The fastest ducks to the finish line win the prizes (and there are lots of prizes to be won).
  4. Not to worry because you do NOT need to be present to win!

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As we said, there are lots of prizes to be won. The Estes Park Duck Race is well known for its Continue reading…

Our “In The Heights” Production Will Be On Stage for 5 Shows in Fort Collins

Eleven Eagle Rock student actors, backed by our own student production team and an eight-piece professional pit band, are in final preparations for five performances of “In The Heights” at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins starting next Wednesday, March 19.

In-The-Heights-Eagle-RockThis recent smash-hit Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes has been called “The West Side Story for a new generation” (Chicago Sun-Times), picking up a total of four Tony Awards in 2008. A feature film adaptation is currently in the initial stages of production.

For our staged version, Miranda’s inspiring story is enacted by a cast of talented Eagle Rock students under the direction of Isaac Leslie and Brighid Scanlon.

This musical takes place in the barrio (neighborhood) of Washington Heights, New York City, where the majority of residents are Dominican-American. The story’s characters include Usnavi, a Dominican bodega owner; Nina, a brilliant first-generation student; her doting parents Kevin and Camila who emigrated from Puerto Rico; and the Cuban-born “Abuela” Claudia, whose adopted family includes everyone on the block.

These characters struggle to find meaning in their personal stories and to transcend the grind of Big City life. In the rapidly gentrifying community of Washington Heights, home prices are rising and it seems that only pride, love and sheer determination — or a juicy piece of gossip — can offer them the strength to hold on for another day.

When someone in the working-class barrio wins the Lotto, the neighborhood is thrown into a tailspin. Themes of ambition, family, romance and personal identity play out over a sizzling soundtrack to create a Pan-American story that transcends national borders but is, at its heart, 100 percent New York City.

Since 2011, our Music and Performance Department has been part of the Berklee City Music Network. Nijaah Pierce (Vanessa), whose singing wowed audiences in last year’s performances of the rock musical “Rent,” is one of the students whose Berklee training will be on full display in her vocally challenging role.

Other members of the cast include the following Eagle Students: Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s Associate Director of Professional Development, Dan Condon

Dan Condon

Dan Condon

Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to Eagle Rock’s associate director of professional development, Dan Condon. What Dan does is – under the auspice of our Professional Development Center – work with schools and organizations across the country in order to help them with their efforts to reengage youth in their own education. Since September, Dan has worked with schools in Arkansas, New Mexico, North Carolina and Washington. In addition, he facilitated learning opportunities at the Rowland Foundation’s conference on Real Learning in Vermont and the Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum in San Francisco. He also did some of his own learning at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Palo Alto, Calif., and at the SXSWedu event in Austin, Tex.

Our associate director even has a co-authored chapter appearing in the 2014 National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE) Yearbook that’s entitled Engaging Youth in Schools: Empirically-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations.

Here’s more about Dan, in his own words:

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock? 

Dan Condon: I was working as the director of education and training with Public Allies — Milwaukee. That’s where young leaders are developed through a rigorous AmeriCorps program that combines full-time, paid apprenticeships in nonprofits with intensive skills training, active community building projects, personalized coaching and critical reflection. Before that I was a founding staff member with One Heartland, and organization that helps to improve the lives of children and families facing socially isolating conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, type 2 diabetes, and youth facing homelessness and identifying as LGBTQ.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock? 

Dan: I first showed up as an intern at Eagle Rock in Continue reading…