Former Teaching Fellow Uses Tools He Learned About at Eagle Rock

Tyler Holmberg has been away from the Eagle Rock campus for more than a decade now, but this former Public Allies teaching fellow still retains Eagle Rock’s philosophy that the student comes first in the education equation.

Tyler HolmbergTy was our 2004/2005 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Human Performance. His passions ranged from teaching and working with young people to agriculture and carpentry. While he was with us, Ty focused this combined energies on a class called Green Thumb Bums.

In the late summer of 2005, when his fellowship came to an end, Ty packed up his year’s worth of belonging and — armed with Eagle Rock’s educational values that include learner-centered classrooms conducted in small democratic spaces where student voices are honored and respected — headed to Philadelphia. There he reconnected with his passion for carpentry, using that craft to build houses as a part of his service with AmeriCorps. Following that two-year stint, Ty rejoined the education community, enrolling in one of the first cohorts of the Philadelphia Teaching Fellowship, which is now part of The New Teacher Project (TNTP). (For anyone who may be interested, TNTP currently offers teaching fellowships in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Nashville, New York City, New Orleans, Nevada and Michigan).

After becoming certified as a science teacher in Pennsylvania, Ty taught 7th grade science at a public school in south Philadelphia. Public school, you say? Yes, Ty said he found it necessary to become a part of the public school system in order to fully understand what was broken so he could continue his strong support of student-focused education.

The experience was grueling, according to Ty. So much in fact that he could only endure one year of teaching five or six periods a day, with 35 students in the classroom for a full 80 minutes of core standardized curriculum.

Following that year in public education, Ty began working with the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI) — a program of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. This program engages, educates and empowers youth, university students and community members to promote healthy lifestyles and build a sustainable food system.

Ty tells us he adapted Agatston’s summer garden carpentry program to a local high school, developing a hands-on program for young interns to build a garden, thus using farming as a medium for personal and professional growth.

From there Ty worked full time as the Penn-Sayre high school director under a program initiated by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, He also was appointed as director of health promotion, leading day and after school programs for more than a dozen schools. That program connected Penn students and resources to the high school and West Philadelphia community through Dr. Ira Harvey’s community school model.

Most recently, serving as Bartram’s Farm Project Director, Ty spearhead and co-directed the Community Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden, and he continues a program he started five years ago through AUNI that is called the Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden. There, young participants become part of a paid internship program to which he has applied several Eagle Rock School values, including taking 30 seconds of silence before every volunteer day and summer workday.

Top of his mind, says Ty, is to remain grounded with students and to find ways to weave Eagle Rock’s principles in all of his programs. And those principles range from artistic expression to service to others.

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Visit the Bartram’s Farm Project Director’s page for more information about Ty Holmberg, including his contact information. Additionally, if you’re a former Public Allies Teaching Fellow here at Eagle Rock and would like update us on your whereabouts, ambitions and professional accomplishments since leaving our mountainside campus, please reach out to Christi Kelston, Director of Public Allies — Eagle Rock, by email (ckelston at eaglerockschool dot org).

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