Fall 2016 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: Sebastian Franco, the 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, is the latest guest author to contribute to the Eagle Rock Blog. Sebastian hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, by way of Los Angeles, Calif. He recently graduated from Colorado State University with a double degree in political science and international studies and a minor in Spanish. As one of his first opportunities in the PDC (Professional Development Center), Sebastian gathered the information for and wrote today’s Eagle Rock blog post.

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Fall 2016 Professional Development Center Update
By Sebastian Franco — 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development

This year I have the opportunity to be part of the Public Allies Fellowship program working with the Professional Development Center (PDC) and the rest of the team here at Eagle Rock.

Having the opportunity to work with the PDC team allows me to understand further the education system around the country and how we can try to provide resources and chances to improve the quality of education our future generation of students will receive. This is something that I’ve been interested in since my sophomore year at Colorado State University. That’s where I started researching and learning the various styles or professional development employed by education systems around the world.

By being part of Public Allies 2016/17 cohort of Eagle Rock fellows, I have the opportunity to learn more about this interest of mine through events, trips, and connections I will experience throughout the next year. This opportunity will enable me to connect with various professionals in the field and learn first-hand what is needed by the education community. One of my first experiences will be a trip to the Ohio Valley, which encompasses portions of Ohio and West Virginia.

The structure of this trip is, of course, new to me, but it turns out this is only the second time in three years that the entire PDC team is traveling together to an event. The idea is to provide an opportunity for each member of the team to experience and see each other’s style of communication and interactions with the community and sponsors.

Throughout the year, each member of the PDC team manages a “portfolio” of clients around the country, creating limited opportunities to travel together as a team. This also allows myself, as the novice PDC fellow, a chance to observe everyone’s approach and style and have a better understanding of what my responsibilities will entail for the remainder of my fellowship.

Estes Park Colorado Trees Fall 2016

Although the Ohio Valley trip is an exciting rarity, there are many other events scheduled throughout the current trimester, most of which are listed below. If you want to learn more about the work we do at Eagle Rock, or how your school or organization can connect with the PDC, contact Dan Condon (associate director of professional development) by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

In the meantime, below is a detailed rundown of our Fall 2016 engagements: Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Susie D’Amico, Eagle Rock Administrative Assistant And Receptionist

rhinoSusie D’Amico is Eagle Rock’s receptionist and administrative assistant, and while that includes handling inquiries, keeping tabs on schedules and a host of office duties, she’s tasked with a lot more.

For instance, Susie assists our school’s leadership team in assigned projects and she helps our nurse and the Health and Wellness department obtain medical care for students. She work with our Public Allies Fellows to provide logistics for student health appointments off campus and she assists licensure candidates navigate the Colorado Department of Education for their teaching licenses.

Despite all these administrative chores, Susie calls Eagle Rock a library for finding bliss. She enjoys students’ openness and self-reflection and the fact that many of them share their discoveries with her.

We asked Susie to sit down briefly and fill us in a little bit about her history. Here’s what this busy front-of-the-office Eagle Rock representative had to say:

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

Susie: Before Eagle Rock — when I wasn’t working in other offices — I assisted my husband Dan D’Amico in traveling and promoting his fine art.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Susie: Eagle Rock offered an opportunity to serve with a nonprofit. The environment for students is exactly the vision that all schools should provide and I am Continue reading…

“We cannot solve a problem within the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.”

I’ve seen a lot of school reform in the past 25 years. I started my career in education policy. It had a lot of sex appeal for a young idealist because in the early 90s when we were just beginning to talk about public education as the new frontier for civil rights—the idea that fixing our schools could be the catalyst for social change. Public education was our best chance to end poverty and propel our democracy. My first job was in Chicago and I learned a lot about the politics of urban school reform. Not much about the schools themselves, but an awful lot about power and money.

After Chicago I spent four years working for the New Mexico Legislature. It was perfect for me—a job in my home state where I could bring my analytical skills to benefit my own community. I loved it because when you’re a policy analyst for the legislature, you learn about the bottom line and what 27 year-old doesn’t love knowing the bottom line? How much does it cost and what’s the evidence that it worked? It’s the view of a skeptic who isn’t swayed by anecdotes or personal stories.

Here’s a snapshot of educational performance in our state since the time I did policy work: Continue reading…

“School Didn’t Do Anything For Me Until I Came To Eagle Rock”

Its been a long time since I’ve thought about my own primary and secondary educational experience. However, it all came back during a three day period at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado.

Since becoming a high school teacher in 2004, I’ve followed Eagle Rock because of their innovative approach towards education. With my return to the educational field through Noble Institute, I knew Eagle Rock was a place I needed to visit…to get a grasp of what’s new in high school curriculum. Especially because of their commitment to infusing public service across all aspects of their approach.

So, I arrived on a Monday morning and the agenda for my three day stay was masterfully planned by Dan Condon, Associate Director of the Professional Development Center. In all reality, he framed my stay as a student and put me in situations that allowed me to see, hear, and feel their approach. I gained significant insight to their innovative teaching strategies that resulted in high level student engagement.

Their campus and facilities are awesome, but the best part was getting to know the students. A big portion of my visit was engaging with them, watching their interactions with teachers, and being part of the culture. I even got to play basketball (my favorite sport) with some of them one evening!

It didn’t take long to understand that the Eagle Rock education approach was student driven. In fact, the curriculum is constantly changing, with new titles to courses being pitched to the students every 5-10 weeks. Not only is that good for the students but it’s equally as challenging to the teachers. This approach allows the teachable content to stay real and relevant, which keeps the students engaged.

Throughout each day, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with great instructors about pedagogy, philosophies, and purpose. I was also included in a faculty instructional meeting where they provided each other feedback on possible upcoming courses to be offered.

All this was made possible through the Professional Development Center and I knew by the second day that it would be a great partnership for Noble Institute. The mission of their work is vital to challenging the status quo on the way we teach at a high school level…or the way we “should” teach.

The experience was awesome and it made me realize that I was never really engaged as a student until I went to get my masters degree at the Clinton School of Public Service. It was there that I became engaged with the process because it was real and relevant, purposeful and passionate…which should be the same model for high schools.

As one of the students told me in passing, “School didn’t do anything for me until I came to Eagle Rock.”

When and how did you engage in your education for the first time?

 

Inheriting A Legacy Of Learning & So Much More

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many blog posts spotlighting what’s happening and what makes us tick at Eagle Rock. If we haven’t met yet, allow me to introduce myself… my name is Jeff Liddle and I’m the Head of School here at Eagle Rock. In short, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for inheriting such a great position and share what you can expect from me by way of future blog posts.

First off, I say “inherit” because I’ve stepped into a job that already features a highly dedicated staff, an amazing organization that is well supported by you — our stakeholders — and an established educational edifice that has a nationwide reputation for accomplishing what many often feel is out of reach… educational reform at both the micro and macro levels.

Most importantly, I’ve inherited a position within an organization that has clarity in its mission. All that’s left for me to do is peek a little closer into the corners to see where we can become even better at what we do. And what we do best as a school is re-engage our students in meaningful education, and through the work of Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center, provide facilitative services to high schools who are similarly re-engaging youth. I’ve acquired a visionary project that is already well tuned, borne out of Honda’s commitment to contributing to society.

I find myself following in the footsteps of a founding Head of School — Robert Burkhardt — who was intimately involved in every aspect of this institution and never wavered for a moment from his No. 1 commitment — students. As a result of his efforts, I now lead a school that was most recently recognized as one of only 24 National Schools of Character by theCharacter Education Partnership. As a result, we’re well positioned for the next stage in our development.

I see our immediate focus during the early stages of my tenure as one of recognizing where we fall in the continuum of organizational maturity, and then leading accordingly. Instead of pursuing the status quo or resting on our laurels, I see us revisiting the core aspects of our organization. And by revisiting, I mean making slight innovations when necessary in regard to our vision, our mission, our PDC services, and the basic structure of our educational community.

And it could be that during these second — or third, or fourth — inspections of our organization, we may find a need for major alterations in our game plan. “What can we do to make this aspect of our program better?” Introspection is a healthy thing, but without action it has no value.

Change is necessary and sometimes it is accompanied by discomfort or growing pains. But discomfort is good and when in pursuit of excellence, it is extremely healthy. It creates the potential for new patterns of interaction and that quite frankly drives us toward excellence.

My predecessors had a vision for an innovative approach to learning back in 1993 and they put it into action with all of the excitement, participation and planning such a unique undertaking requires. Two decades later, we remain at the peak, with most functions running smoothly, which is pretty much the description of a well-oiled machine.

Now what’s required is to ensure that we remain viable in a world that is constantly changing. And that will require the same enthusiasm, energy, courage, and creativity that got us here in the first place.

And speaking of tomorrow, in about seven to 10 tomorrows from today, I’ll be back with a new blog post updating you and the rest of the Eagle Rock community on what the Eagle Rock leadership team and I are doing specifically to continue the legacy we’ve been granted.

To that end, I can’t wait for tomorrow because we get better looking every day. In the meantime, I invite you to leave a comment sharing what you hope to hear from me as the head of school.