One of the dozen or so focal points of the program and curriculum here at Eagle Rock is to instill in our students the importance of being of “use.” In a nutshell, that means encouraging them to give back to the community what was so freely given to them.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt for those of us on the administrative leadership team here at Eagle Rock to keep that notion of service forefront in our minds as we go about the work of implementing our theme for the 2012-13 school year:
“Be more responsive to student needs, both locally and nationally.”
By focusing internally in order to better serve our own students, and externally though the work we do via our Professional Development Center, we are truly re-engaging youth.
Toward this end, we’ve established four objectives that we aim to achieve by the end of this academic year (Aug. 31, 2013):
- The Professional Development Center (PDC) / School relationship here at Eagle Rock is inextricably interdependent
- Our admissions process is aligned with the capacities of our school
- The quality of student life at Eagle Rock is improved
- The daily schedule and human resources are reallocated to best align with organizational needs
While it’s true that these objectives are broad in nature and could be interpreted as all encompassing — requiring more than a year to accomplish — we’re limiting them in scope in order to complete each objective this school year.
With that in mind, the purpose of this blog post is to update you — our stakeholders — on the progress we’re making toward each objective.
With respect to the first objective — The Professional Development Center (PDC) / School relationship here at Eagle Rock is inextricably interdependent — I’m happy to report that we’ve piloted a process that utilizes our own students as facilitators of external professional development at other schools.
We’re also working on creating a model that demonstrates how the PDC team supports our own school’s internal improvement initiatives in ways that can be replicated for ongoing school improvement projects.
What remains to be done is to define staff involvement and expectations when it comes to external Professional Development Center work. And we need to establish goals and processes for designing Eagle Rock School courses that support our Professional Development Center outreach program.
Our second objective —The admissions process is aligned with the capacities of the school — has us establishing a targeted, Board-approved enrollment number and the acceptable range above and below that number. We’re studying our true capacity, and this enrollment number will reflect an alignment of major program elements — classroom space, space in houses, student needs, and curricular requirements. We’re also establishing a process for setting specific trimester admissions goals. And we’re aligning our admissions process and goals with the needs of students and their families, our wilderness orientation program, business office, nurse, house placement and classes.
Our third objective — The quality of student life at Eagle Rock is improved — is taking great shape. To date this academic year, we’re prototyping a number of approaches for our students that provide meaningfully engaging experiences outside the classroom. The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center team is helping us with this work.
What’s next is to create a three-tier model with the express purpose of serving our students. Here, we’ll attempt to match up our current school approach by identifying what elements adequately serve 75-80 percent of our students, what additional supports and school elements are directed at 10-15 percent of students who need those additional supports, and what more intensive support the remaining 5-10 percent might require in order to experience success at our school. One final aspect of this work will be to fill in program gaps related to this model in order to more fully support our students in their pursuit of success.
Our fourth and final objective — The daily schedule and human resources are reallocated to best align with organizational needs — may seem simple enough, but when you’re into your 20th year of operation, well, it’s one of those objectives that requires everyone’s attention and effort. Here, we’re in the process of adopting a daily schedule for our fall ’13 trimester that best supports the whole student. In addition, we’re wrapping up a time analysis on how staff members use their time. And we’re creating a plan for managing the workloads of instructional specialists. Ultimately, we’re interested in classroom ratios (staff to student) that support teaching, residential life obligations and planning time.
Remaining to be completed is the task of aligning staffing with the priorities of the school, including a plan for greater staff coverage over more of the day — both weekdays and weekends — and tightening up our residential life staffing and supervision plan.
We’re also in the midst of identifying future technology-related needs across our entire organization. And finally, we are re-aligning the staffing structure in our Professional Development Center to better meet the needs of our partner organizations and therefore significantly increase our impact nationally.
We have a top-notch leadership team here at Eagle Rock, but that’s not to say we’re willing to discard any tips, information or help from others within our nationwide community of supporters, participants and friends. I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you — our stakeholders — to check back here often as we continue to provide updates on our progress.
Keep in mind that “being of service” is an action term. So please feel free to chime in with any suggestions you might have that can potentially assist with our priorities here at Eagle Rock.