Editor’s Note: Like many leading not-for-profit organizations, the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is guided by a strategic planning process — the end result of which is a document enabling board and staff to plan for the allocation and use of resources over a multiple year period in order to fulfill the organization’s mission and make significant steps toward realizing its vision. Today’s post, authored by Eagle Rock’s head of school, Jeff Liddle, focuses on the work of Eagle Rock’s board, staff, educators and students with respect to our strategic plan, titled Vision 2020.
By Jeff Liddle, Head of School
Since our founding in 1993, Eagle Rock has developed a reputation as a leader in the progressive education movement with a particular focus on engaging disengaged high school students.
Our integration of relevant, engaging and experiential academic courses with personal growth and community living is unique and useful to educators around the country and transformative to our students. The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center (PDC) has worked deeply within the Eagle Rock School through numerous school improvement initiatives, supporting Public Allies’ fellowship program, as well as new teacher licensure programs and hosting visiting educators.
Over the past 22 years, the PDC has also worked with networks of schools, supported change efforts around the country and has produced two books and numerous articles on school reform. Our vision is that all of this country’s high school youth be fully engaged in their education.
We believe this will be better accomplished by sharing a coherent sense of where we are going and how we are going to get there, and for that reason we embarked upon a strategic planning process in 2013. A well-developed strategy helps ensure that our daily work fits in with the long-term results we intend to achieve. In particular, our strategic plan guides our board of directors, administration, staff and students in leading the organization.
Updating our vision and mission statements
Through our strategic planning process, our board crafted and adopted updated vision and mission statements and, along with Eagle Rock staff and students, incorporated seven major areas of focus into an updated version of our strategic plan. Within those areas, there were more than 30 specific initiatives from which to choose.
Through a thoughtful process, we selected a specific project for each major domain. Some of the projects we chose will not take five years to complete. In cases where projects are considered complete, we will review additional candidates in that domain and choose another high-leverage project to focus on.
What follows are the updated vision and mission statements, an overview of the strategic plan and an update on one of our projects: Communications Strategy (the American Honda Education Corp. board of directors — that’s Eagle Rock’s board — adopted this plan during our Jan. 27, 2015 board meeting):
Eagle Rock’s Vision: This country’s high school students are fully engaged in their education.
Eagle Rock’s Mission: Implement effective and engaging practices that foster each student’s unique potential and help young people use their minds well at Eagle Rock School, and support schools nationally to do the same. Eagle Rock serves adolescents who are not thriving in their current situations, for whom few positive options exist, and who are interested in taking control of their lives and learning.
Eagle Rock’s seven strategic domains and associated projects
Domain No. 1: Students Thrive — Organizational stance and framework exists to promote diversity and inclusion within the context of the mission-appropriate student. Eagle Rock is a model inclusive school, serving a diverse student body with a diverse staff. Staff and students, policies, practices and programs all align toward the goal of maintaining an inclusive school.
Current Project: Attract and support a diverse composition of staff to best serve students. While the process will be broadly inclusive, it must specifically include ethnic and racial diversity.
Domain No. 2: Staff Thrives — Clear statements and strategies developed and shared about how to thrive as an Eagle Rock staff member. Eagle Rock manages workloads and provides training and support to help staff live healthy professional lives. Recruiting, hiring and supporting staff all performed in the context of a “mission appropriate” set of principles.
Current Project: Our performance management system is being developed and enacted, including sharing common practices across all Eagle Rock departments.
Domain No. 3: Academic Curriculum — Eagle Rock School graduates students who have the desire and are prepared to make a difference in the world. We implement effective and engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and help young people use their minds well.
Current Project: A framework for normed common formative and summative assessments is being worked on, and a library of such assessments is being developed across all expectations and disciplines.
Domain No. 4: Co-Curricular Framework — Strong, continual engagement among diverse students requires an approach that is holistic in nature. The entire experience needs to be unified and meaningful relative to student achievement and our mission to fully ensure our nation’s youth are engaged in their high school education.
Current Project: A student leadership framework and curriculum is being developed, enacted and archived, as is a process to support multiple pathways for student involvement in Eagle Rock accomplishing its mission.
Domain No. 5: National Contribution — We envision this country’s high schools as high-functioning centers of engagement and learning. We accelerate school improvement and support implementation of engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and help young people use their minds well.
Current Project: We are working to articulate our national impact intentions and refine a strategy to match.
Domain No. 6: Mission-driven Operations — Resource decisions will be linked to results that reflect mission success at the school and nationally. Develop and maintain a practical facility that supports the achievement of the Eagle Rock mission.
Current Project: The next phase of our campus is being mapped out in a master plan based upon organizational needs.
Domain No. 7: Communications Strategy — Raise awareness of Eagle Rock’s mission, philosophy and actions through consistent, targeted communications outreach that highlights our unique contributions to education, as well as our success stories.
Current Projects: We’ve conceived and launched a new Eagle Rock website, along with a video highlighting the Eagle Rock School and a video highlighting the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center.
Project Update: Our focus was on increasing the functionality of the website, adding new features and, over time, updating content. This winter, visitors to the website will enjoy a virtual tour of campus. Future plans include website pages offering educational resources, an online newsletter, and efforts to connect with various media outlets to further our mission of advocating for and supporting disengaged young people.
Readers… look for additional updates on the other strategic domains and associated projects in future blog posts.
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About the Author: Jeff Liddle is the head of school at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center — a nationally recognized, tuition-free residential high school in Estes Park, Colo. The school offers a second chance to students who have not been able to succeed in a traditional high school setting, and a professional development center that supports high schools nationally in re-engaging youth in their own education. As head of school, Jeff is responsible for leading Eagle Rock’s school community and its leadership team; interfacing with the organization’s board of directors; and overseeing the vision and financial health of the organization.