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:


Sept. 12 – 16: Ohio Valley Work with Jefferson County Educational Services CenterWe had multiple projects just a few minutes away from Pittsburgh, Pa., in an area known as the Ohio Valley. We worked with a number of different school districts supporting them in the implementation of project-based learning, use of improvement science to enact change and the establishment of professional learning communities.

Sept. 26 – 27: Estes Park School District Here, we continued work with the local school district in its efforts to implement professional learning communities.

Sept. 28: The Center for Leadership and Educational Equity, Providence, RI — We have worked annually with this organization that operates in a similar fashion to the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center. These are a group of consultants serving every school district in Rhode Island. Here, we coordinated their Fall 2016 retreat focused on enhancing collaboration skills.

Sept. 29 – 30: Kentucky Innovation — This was a first-time visit to introduce the Division of Innovation of the Kentucky Department of Innovation to improvement science in order to further their goals and objectives.

Sept. 29: Rowland Foundation, Burlington, Vt. — Our education renewal work in collaboration with The Rowland Foundation in Burlington, Vt., continued in late September. The Rowland Foundation is engaged in a years long process involving the Rowland Fellows and their steering committees to alter school culture and enhance the climate for learning by fostering visionary leadership within individual schools throughout Vermont.

Sept. 29: Santa Fe Youth Summit — Last year we trained students from across Santa Fe, N.M., schools to design and run a youth summit for the Mayor’s office of Santa Fe. We are now at the beginning of launching that project again. In late September, we facilitate the training of students in asset-based community development and use of the school reform initiative protocols.


Oct. 3: Deeper Learning Cohort — Earlier this week, we supported five schools (including Eagle Rock School) in their efforts to increase success for traditionally marginalized students via complex, independent projects. Each place where this appears is in support of a specific school that is a member of the cohort.

Oct. 3 – 4: Puget Sound Principal Incubator Group, Seattle, Wash. — We’ve partnered with the Puget Sound Consortium on various projects of school transformation, leadership pathways and professional development, and an innovative principal training program.

Oct. 3 – 4: College, Career and Civic Readiness Networked Improvement Communities (CCCR-NIC) Los Angeles and San Diego, Calif. — We worked with six organizations in California supporting the increase of CCCR communities among historically underserved groups of students.

Oct 13 – 14: Clear Brook High School, Friendswood, Tex., and September School from Boulder, Colo. — Staff from these schools will be visiting Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center to learn about progressive approaches to student engagement. In addition, The September School will be engaging in an Improvement Science Day, affording their participants the opportunity to leave with tangible approaches to prototype.

Oct. 18: Lafayette Big Picture, Lafayette, N.Y. — Lafayette is one among 60 to 70 high schools that subscribe to the Big Picture Learning model of education. We have been supporting Big Picture Learning for the past eight years, facilitating the implementation of their model in schools.

Oct. 19 – 20: Rochester City School District, N.Y. — We are supporting the implementation of restorative justice and related practices in city schools in Rochester.

Oct. 26: Winooski Middle and High School, Vt. — This school district has been engaged in a multi-year process to move to a competency based graduation approach. In such a system, graduation and learning is acknowledged based on competency in significant learning objectives rather than based on seat time.


Nov. 4: Rosemary Anderson High Schools, Portland, Ore. — RAHS campuses are community-based alternative high schools serving students of a similar demographic and background to Eagle Rock students. They sought us out specifically to understand some of our own school’s practices around curriculum development and instructional strategies.

Nov. 14: Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, Bronx, N.Y. — We have multiple projects with Fannie Lou Hamer (FLH) – in the past two years we helped them launch their teacher peer observation system aligned with a framework known as authentic intellectual work. FLH is also a member of the Deeper Learning cohort referenced above.

Nov. 9 – 11: Restorative Justice Symposium — Multiple schools will be convening at Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colo., for the second time to share their learnings and dilemmas with implementing restorative practices.

Nov. 16 – 18: iLead Schools, Southern California – Organization of charter schools convening at Eagle Rock to continue their work on competency based graduation though Improvement Science facilitation. iLEAD stands for International Leadership Entrepreneurial Development Arts Design.

Nov. 21: The Link School, Buena Vista, Colo. — Faculty and staff from Link will visit our Professional Development Center in Estes Park to engage in a daylong event aimed at developing new approaches to student engagement.


Dec. 2 – 3: Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) Fall Forum, Providence, RI — CES was a significant influence on the original structure and approach to education adopted by Eagle Rock School. In the late 80s, they piloted the notion of block scheduling, advisories, teachers as guides, and more progressive structures that have now become the norm in many schools. The CES Fall Forum provides one Eagle Rock PDC team member — Sarah Bertucci — the opportunity to present a workshop for the benefit of other CES Fall Forum participants. Sara’s session, titled Growing Equity Together: Using Student Independent Projects and Improvement Science to Ensure Success for ALL Students, will be presented at 8:45am on Friday, Dec. 2nd. The Professional Development Center also convenes the Affiliate Centers for CES and will be hosting a reception at the Fall Forum (on Dec. 2 from 5:30-7:30pm at the Centro Restaurant and Lounge) for staffers from CES centers around the country to meet to exchange ideas and share resources.

Dec. 4 – 5: School Reform Initiative (SRI) Winter Meeting Planning – Eagle Rock has been a member of this organization since 2006 and has adopted its use of protocols and principles of critical friendship both in the PDC’s work as well as in the professional development practices at the Eagle Rock School. Some of our professional development staffers serve on the planning committee for the SRI Winter 2017 Meeting, which takes place Jan. 11-14, 2017, in Denver, Colo. If you’re unfamiliar with this event, SRI’s Winter Meeting offers professional educators from across the country and world the opportunity to engage as adult learners in the grounded, deeply relational types of learning experiences they offer their students every day.

Dec. 7 – 9: Big Picture Learning Leadership Conference 2016 – Here, we are supporting the design and delivery of this nationally focused leadership conference supporting all Big Picture principals from across the country. For more info, please visit BPL Leadership Conference 2016.

Dec. 13 – 16: New Mexico Center for School Leadership (NMCSL), Albuquerque, N.M. – We will once again be in Albuquerque in support of our work with NMCSL.

Once again, if you would like to know more about our work or how your school or organization can work with our Professional Development Center, please contact our associate director of professional development, Dan Condon, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

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About The Author: Sebastian Franco is the 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. A recent graduate of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., Sebastian holds double degrees in political science and international studies and a minor in Spanish.

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