Expanding Knowledge Base as Part of Eagle Rock’s 5 Expectations

We expect a lot from students here at Eagle Rock School, and we make no bones about ensuring these expectations are understood and accepted. In fact, we even call them the “5 Expectations” so that every student leaves here as a productive, engaged citizen, ready and willing to make a difference in the world.

Among these five expectations are:

  1. Learning to communicate effectively
  2. Expanding one’s knowledge base
  3. Become an engaged citizen
  4. Acquiring leadership skills in order to achieve justice
  5. Creating healthy life choices

Today we’re going to focus on No. 2 of these expectations: Expanding Knowledge Base.

One of our expectations for all Eagle Rock students is that they will acquire the skills necessary to become independent learners and problem solvers. Traditional math and English courses often fall within this expectation.

In our math classes, this expectation is usually tied to a specific content area such as algebra, geometry, probability, statistics or calculus. Within these areas, many math courses at Eagle Rock revolve around specific real-world situations. For example, exploring gambling games and how probability factors into that casino floor equation. Others include how to research and interpret (data analysis), how to predict outcomes (statistics), and how to hide things (cryptography).

Within many of Becky Poore’s math classes, final projects are assigned for the purpose of assessing what’s been learned and offering students the opportunity to demonstrate and showcase the skills they’ve acquired. For the gambling example above, from a math class on probability, students are expected to expand their knowledge base by creating their own game of chance.

In other math classes, students are tasked with Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Instructors ‘Bring Home’ Their Experiences

The fact that we operate a year-round residential high school in Estes Park, Colo., in addition to offering professional development services at schools and community sites around the United States, is a distinct advantage for Eagle Rock School instructors and, in turn, our student population.

And since our mission is to implement effective and engaging practices that foster each student’s unique potential — and to support schools nationally to do the same — sending our instructors off on educational forays across the country directly impacts the students they instruct at Eagle Rock.

But how exactly does this national work impact our instructors when they return to our mountainside campus? Often working through the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center, our instructors are tasked with “carrying the message” of educational reform to public schools throughout the nation.

We asked three Eagle Rock School instructors how this national work has improved their work. Here’s what they had to say:

Dan-Hoffman-Eagle-Rock-SchoolDan Hoffman, Literacy And Literature instructional specialist, says working with public schools keeps him grounded. He says that while we often think Eagle Rock is on the front line of education reform, “it’s really our partner schools that are fighting this fight.”

Visiting public schools in Albuquerque and New York and seeing the challenges they face every day and the hard work they are engaged in to serve their students keeps Dan motivated to do the work he does here at Eagle Rock and appreciative of all we have here.

Hoffman says he picks up best practices through small group protocols at the Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum or in casual conversations with humanities teachers at a high school in the Bronx. “I get to learn a ton about what other professionals are Continue reading…

The Role of Instructional Coaching at Eagle Rock School

They say a shark in the ocean must constantly swim in order to survive, and the same concept holds true for educators. If they’re not consistently exploring new ideas, receiving feedback or learning new teaching techniques, they’re shortchanging the students in their classrooms.

A few years back, some of our staff members did heavy research on continuing teacher education, in addition to studying the findings from other schools concerning the implementation of instructional coaching. The idea was to provide support for our fulltime instructional specialists here at Eagle Rock School as well as our annual group of teaching fellows.

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As a result, we piloted a new instructional coaching position for the 2014/15 school year in advance of welcoming welcome six new fulltime instructors in addition to our annual influx of a dozen new Public Allies fellows.

Janet Johnson, our science instructional specialist, became our first instructional coach, and she performed that fulltime task in impressive fashion for the year, while Sara Benge stayed on for a second year Public Allies fellowship to help with our science instruction.

Janet worked closely with our six new teachers throughout the year and set up coaching cycles, a new teacher Critical Friends Group, and informal supports and check-ins throughout each trimester of the academic year. Since it was our pilot year, Janet had the opportunity to explore new ideas throughout the year, making time to meet with more experienced teachers, and some of our teaching fellows, acting as a resource and a thought partner in their practice.

For the current school year, we’re transitioning into what we believe can be a sustainable way to keep an instructional coach on staff with our current staffing model. Jon Anderson, Eagle Rock’s human performance and outdoor education instructional specialist, is our instructional coach this year, fulfilling the role on a part-time basis. He’ll also continue teaching in the Continue reading…

Welcoming a Pair of New Instructional Specialists

We’re excited to welcome two new full-time instructional specialists to the Eagle Rock family, each of whom have been on campus over the past four weeks or so to get the lay of the land and soak up some early orientation.

Our new instructors include Beatriz (Bea) Salazar, who was born in South Central Los Angeles, and grew up in Commerce City, Colo., and Eriq Acosta, a Loveland, Colo., native who finished high school in Johnstown, Colo.

Bea Salazar

Bea Salazar

Bea received her education at 11 different schools through her lifetime, and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Denver. Most recently, she earned a Master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Colorado State University (CSU).

Her most recent job was in the Housing and Dining Services department at CSU, where Bea served as an assistant residence director.

Bea first heard about Eagle Rock while chatting with a colleague at CSU about her passion for educating young people of color. Reflecting on that discussion, Bea said, “I loved the determination the students had in making the best future they could, and having adults who believed and encouraged their dreams.”

Bea is our new Life After Eagle Rock (LAER) instructional specialist, and she’s excited to build new relationships and opportunities, and learn all there is to learn about Eagle Rock and our brand of progressive education. A fun random fact about Bea? “I have a love for old cars! My lifelong dream is to rebuild an old Ford truck.”

Eriq Acosta acquired Navajo, Pueblo and Chicano origins from his mother’s side of the family, and Comanche and Mexican from his father’s side. Eriq has a Bachelor’s degree in Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s 2015/16 Public Allies Fellows Arrive on Campus

For Christi Kelston, this month brings a fresh crop of Public Allies Fellows — the first to start under her direction since she became Eagle Rock’s new director of Public Allies this past spring.

Christi joins everyone else here at Eagle Rock in welcoming our 12 new Public Allies Fellows. Funded by AmeriCorps, Public Allies believes that everyone leads, and that everyone can work to inspire others to believe in themselves, step up to the plate, and take action.

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Here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, we’ve been active participants in Public Allies, hosting a dozen Fellows for a year of service at our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colo. In fact, we’ve sponsored more than 150 Public Allies to date, with the number successfully completing the program in the upper 90th percentile. As a result, Eagle Rock’s program is the most successful in the nation when in comes to retention of our Fellows.

Take a look at the profiles below, and if you happen to spot one of these Public Allies at a conference or training, be sure to say hello and ask them about their Eagle Rock experience.

Here are a few fun facts about each of our new Fellows:

  • Monserrat Alvarez, Outdoor Education Teaching Fellow: While studying religious and nonprofit studies at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., “Monse” also worked with the outdoor programs through the university. Most recently, she worked the summer season with North Carolina Outward Bound School at its Table Rock base camp. Raised in Raleigh, Monse loves backcountry adventure, cooking up her grandmother’s recipes and spending her free time with her mom and little brother.
  • Ally Bolger, Science Teaching Fellow: This New Jersey native studied geology and Russian at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine. This summer, Ally led backpacking trips across Europe with Apogee Adventures. In her free time she takes part in long-distance bicycle tours, skiing in all its forms, hiking, exploring new places, spending time with people, cooking and eating ice cream.
  • Maya Edery, Society & Cultures Teaching Fellow: Raised just outside of Detroit, Maya studied women, gender & sexuality, as well as anthropology/sociology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. This past summer, she traveled to Brazil with Continue reading…