Princeton Intern Gaining an Education on Education at Eagle Rock School

Editor’s Note: Karina Aguilar Guerrero, who was born in Mexicali, Mexico, and raised in Southern California, is a Princeton University junior who is interning with us for the summer as part of Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS). This program, built on the notion that community service is essential to the welfare of society, has seen more than 800 Princeton Univ. undergraduates participate since its inception. With nearly a dozen or so of them having interned at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center since our founding in the early 1990s, we’re well aware of the impact this unique civic services experience has on the university’s future alumni. Below, Karina, who currently studies Public Policy and Education, tells us about her experiences at Eagle Rock to date.

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By Karina Aguilar Guerrero

Personally, education has always been one of my greatest passions. Growing up, I was always told that education was the great equalizer — a way out of poverty. However, last semester, I took a class on education reform and realized that there’s another side to that story.

There are many factors that affect what happens in the classroom, including life at home, economic situations, learning styles, a support system, school funding, types of teachers and teaching styles — the list goes on. I realized that in order for students to be successful, we have to talk about what happens in the classroom and what takes place outside the classroom.

Karina Aguilar Guerrero

Princeton Univ. undergrad Karina Aguilar Guerrero (3rd from left) with Eagle Rock School students from Pinon House.

When I heard about Eagle Rock’s mission and structure, I was immediately drawn to it. I thought it was incredible that Eagle Rock didn’t worry about grades and tests but still provided students with the resources to not only learn about the material in class, but more important, to also grow and learn about themselves in the process.

I knew there was much for me to learn about education from a place like this, and while that remains true, it’s also only the beginning. In the weeks that I’ve been here, I have learned about teaching, about class structures, about the city of Denver, about the students here, and not surprisingly, I’ve also learned a lot about myself.

Before coming here, I was certain that I would become a Public Policy major with certifications in Teacher Preparation and Latin American Studies. Eagle Rock has helped me realize that I enjoy working and developing personal relationships with students a lot more than I enjoy actual policy work. And that has pushed me to acknowledge that I need to pick a different major.

A lot of what I’ve learned is due to the emphasis on hands-on involvement at Eagle Rock. Being welcomed as a part of Pinon House has allowed me to spend more time with students and it has given me the opportunity to get to know each of them more personally. I’ve also become actively involved with the classes on campus. From the video production course during Explore Week to the Psych Rocks class these past few weeks, I’ve been able to engage in and learn from the different teaching styles taking place. In addition, I have become heavily involved with the Exploring Higher Ed class where I have participated in book discussions and college tours.

Outside of classes, I have engaged with the Mastermind Society, leading discussions on social entrepreneurship and what it means, along with helping students prepare for their individual business pitches. Additionally, I have been leading SAT tutoring sessions, an idea that emerged from conversations with students who were concerned about college entrance exams. The goal is to help students prepare for — and feel more confident about — their ability to do well on exams like the SAT and ACT.

Overall though, most of my time at Eagle Rock is spent with students. My favorite part of being here is getting to interact with them, learn about their plans for the future, as well as seeing them display their talents through poetry and song. I love seeing the development and growth that results from trips like Wall Tent and Lost Creek.

And I am constantly inspired by their grad presentations and their work on POL (presentations of learning) packets. Interning at Eagle Rock has been such an exciting and eye-opening experience and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here holds. I know I am definitely going to miss it and everyone at this school once my internship concludes.

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Please Note: If you’re interested in participating in an internship experience like Karina’s, then don’t be shy — inquire about becoming an Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center intern (clicking on the link opens a PDF file).

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