Spring 2017 Update from the Professional Development Center

Since beginning my Public Allies Fellowship with Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center last fall, I have taken note of the many traits that make our professional development team so successful.

As background, the Professional Development Center team is charged with executing on a mission to support schools (we refer to them as “partners”) around the country to increase high school student engagement. What is not well known is that the team provides those services to our partners at no cost to them, and our team consists of just four facilitators who regularly provide our services. This presents an interesting challenge as we cannot increase our headcount despite the ever-increasing demand for our services.

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To meet that challenge, the team has developed a set of practices characterized by working smarter rather than harder. Hallmarks of the team’s practice include organization, efficiency, and constant communication among staffers. Everyone understands what the goals are for each trimester and how their portfolio of partners needs to be shaped for maximum impact.

In normal circumstances, observing such traits among a high-functioning team should be a simple matter. But circumstances here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center are not normal, with all six members of the professional development team constantly Continue reading…

The Value of Intramurals for High School Students

Here at Eagle Rock School we’re huge advocates of the notion that sports build character. That’s why we’ve put away our pens, pencils and books, pulled on our intramural uniforms and headed out to the Field of Dreams each Wednesday for the past two-dozen years,

Eagle Rock School Intramurals

Student and staff housemates become teammates as we compete against one another. At any given time during the school year, we have four houses competing and two houses refereeing. Which means everybody’s involved.

For three trimesters each year, you can find us out on the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Overcome Fears and Take the Plunge

For people who grew up swimming like fishes, it’s hard to imagine how challenging it is to learn how to swim later in life. For people who don’t learn how to swim at an early age, the water — in even a placid pool — can be terrifying.

Among my favorite destinations at Eagle Rock School is our swimming pool, accessible to all students and staffed with Red Cross-certified student and staff lifeguards to keep everybody safe. In fact, one objective of our aquatics program is to make the pool available to students of all swimming abilities. This is particularly important in a diverse community such as the one that populates Eagle Rock.

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Statistics show that in the United States, black children drown at a rate that is three times that of white children, and Latino children drown at double the rate of white children. Furthermore, children of any race who have parents who don’t swim have only a 17 percent chance of learning how to swim themselves.

But it’s far more likely that children from communities of color are likely to not only have parents who can’t swim, but probably don’t have Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Curriculum and Instructional Practices Improvement

Editor’s Note: Back in 2013, Eagle Rock’s board of directors embarked on a strategic planning process that resulted in the adoption of a plan titled ‘Vision 2020’ that assures what we do day-to-day reflects the long-term goals that the organization aims to achieve (see News From The Rock: Vision 2020 for an overview of that plan and process). ‘Vision 2020’ includes seven distinct areas of focus (a.k.a. domains) that guide our board, administrators, staff members and students. In today’s blog post, Jen Frickey offers an update on our third strategic domain — Academic Curriculum.

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By Jen Frickey, Director of Curriculum

Here at Eagle Rock, we intentionally place a significant amount of energy into graduating 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 these help young people use their minds well. To support this, we are working on improving our approach to assessment at Eagle Rock so there is more consistency in assessing what we value across all classes.

As we continue to improve our curriculum and instructional practices, it is important to us that we are challenging our students and delivering quality instruction across all classes and other learning experiences at Eagle Rock. For that reason, we are focusing a portion of our strategic work around creating a framework for normed common formative and summative assessments.

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Our aim is that 50 percent of our assessment practices will be normed and shared across classrooms and disciplines by Continue reading…

Residential Life at Eagle Rock School Explained

Student housing at Eagle Rock School has always been an exercise in evolutionary change and this trimester promises to be no different. Among the biggest draws to our campus are the living arrangements we offer our students, providing them with an atmosphere that is warm and non-threatening; in a word, supportive.

There are six student houses here on our mountainside campus — each housing seven boys and seven girls in separate wings — and each supported by a pair of house parents. In recent years, we eliminated a student bed, wardrobe, desk and chair from each wing in order to give our students a little more elbow room.

Eagle Rock School Living Village

Eagle Rock School Living Village

What remains is a team structure within each house that provides students with ample opportunities for interpersonal growth, as well as the lessons that arise from sustained group activities such as intramural sports, service projects, chores, house dinners, outings and retreats.

In addition to house parents within each residential dwelling, our board recently approved adding a residential life coordinator position to the team here at Eagle Rock. Our first such coordinator is J. Jacques Fournet, II, who is tasked with supporting and evolving the residential life experience. Jacques brings an elevated focus to residential life with the ultimate goal of helping us become more responsive to student needs.

Here’s a rundown on how the individual houses looked before the beginning of this trimester: Continue reading…