Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Eagle Rock’s Take on ‘The Wiz’

Eagle Rock School students and faculty members are busy rehearsing for a series of performances of the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical, “The Wiz,” which are scheduled in Estes Park at month’s end.

The Wiz Eagle Rock SchoolOur production of “The Wiz” (March 31-April 2, 2016) is an urban retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” using Motown, Funk and Soul music to rework the story into the context of modern African-American culture. A film adaption of the show was released in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Eleven talented Eagle Rock students and four staff members will perform in our staged version, backed by a live four-piece professional pit band. Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Eagle Rock School’s Music Instructional Specialist, directs the show, with co-direction by World Languages Instructional Specialist Brighid Scanlon and musical direction by 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow Michael Grant.

Performances will be staged beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 as well as Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 at the Hempel Auditorium within the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Admission at the door is “pay what you like” and all proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Higher Education Fund.

But we digress. The story of Dorothy and her road trip to Oz has become known worldwide for its themes of home, belonging, belief in oneself and freedom. “The Wiz,” with its original premiere in 1975 with an all-black cast and African-American styles, boldly showed that this classic story belongs to everyone, with audiences of all races flocking to watch productions of “The Wiz” over the past four decades. In addition to be culturally empowering, it is a “joy machine,” gorgeously designed, with quick humor and irresistible melodies.

Preparations for our production began last fall with a Continue reading…

Winter Classes Range from Musicals and Murals to Soilless Gardening

erslogo2Eagle Rock’s busy student body is already well into the winter trimester, with many among them enjoying a number of class offerings — most of them new — that promise to challenge their intellect and maybe even spark interest in an avocation, adventure or activity that can last an entire lifetime.

Ten-week classes sprinkled among the mix for ER 68 (our 68th semester since our founding of Eagle Rock School in the early 1990s) include:

La Telenovela: In this class, which we first offered in the fall of 2014, students analyze and create their own Spanish-language “soap opera” episodes. By doing so, they are gaining insight into telenovela structure, characters and themes by viewing real telenovelas. (For the uninitiated, a telenovela is a type of limited-run serial drama and popular on European, West Asian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, Arab World, Brazil, Portuguese and Spanish television networks.) By watching these programs, students are refining their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in Spanish, which is enhanced by working together on their Spanish in the classroom. As a final project, students will be asked to script and film their own telenovelas — themselves portraying the characters as well as completing all of the required behind-the-scenes production work. They will work on acting as well as filming and directing techniques to produce the final episode. (Brighid Scanlon is teaching this class.)

Data Analysis: In this class, which first appeared at Eagle Rock School in the spring of 2015, students are beginning to explore data sets, looking for patterns and using statistics to answer student-generated questions. Each student explores one question, researching data that will help answer that question. By analyzing the information, they can communicate their newfound knowledge using infographics, written articles, presentation or blogs. Experts in the field, peers, and Eagle Rock staff will review the work and provide feedback for the inevitable revision. (Becky Poore and Helen Higgins are teaching this class.)

Five-week classes offered this trimester include:

101 Years of Murals: This all-day class presents students with the opportunity to appreciate what murals can teach us, communicate and add vitality to our lives. Students are part of a hard-working team with an emphasis on leadership that is designing and painting a mural in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We are learning how to use different mural techniques to create Part 2 in a series of murals. Students in this class are already capable at drawing — or are teachable — and they’re all willing to take risks. This class promises a lot of hard work, but it also promises to yield a lot of new skills as well as possible connections that may benefit them in the future. (Cindy Elkins and Claire Oliphant are teaching this class.)

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The Wiz” Musical: Ease on down the road with Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellows — Where Are They Now? (Part 1)

Welcome to what will be the first of many updates about what’s happening in the lives of educators who participated in the yearlong Public Allies fellowship program here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado. What we intend to offer with posts such as these is a glimpse into the lives of those who went on to forge their careers in progressive education post-Eagle Rock.

But first, a short explanation of what the Public Allies program is all about. It’s a national movement based on the notion that everybody leads and everyone can make a difference. That difference can be as small as helping someone believe in themselves, to step up and make change.

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Public Allies has as its mission the advancement of new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. The Public Allies signature AmeriCorps Ally Program identifies diverse young adults and prepares them for leadership through paid full-time nonprofit apprenticeships and rigorous leadership training.

And how has that worked out so far? In the past 23 years, more than 6,000 Allies have completed the program with more than 80 percent of them continuing careers in nonprofit and public service. Meanwhile, many of this nation’s nonprofits are struggling to recruit and retain the diverse talent they need to address our most pressing community challenges. The Millennial generation — the largest and most diverse generation in history — is energized to work for change, but doesn’t know how to get started.

That’s where Public Allies comes in. With the edict that “everyone leads,” participants create pathways for young people to engage in their communities, and help communities and organizations tap the energy, passion, and perspectives of a new generation. Public Allies is the leadership and human capital solution our diverse communities need.

That brings us where we are today… happy to tell you about two former Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows and their current pursuits. First up, Anna McCanse Nelson: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Present Park with a Pair of Murals

Mural_Photo5Much like young Forrest Gump and Jenny, Eagle Rock and the firefighters at Rocky Mountain National Park are “like peas and carrots” following the completion of a dramatic mural project on the walls of the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Dorm within the park.

Our campus setting within wilderness that is just minutes away from the boundaries of the national park has been a benefit for students considering a career in forestry management. And the mural project is just another opportunity to strengthen that bond between Eagle Rock and the park’s staff.

Late last spring, these two wilderness neighbors formed a program with the Continental Divide Research Learning Center (CDRLC) and the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew (AIHC) that offers some Eagle Rock students the opportunity to explore employment options the park service might have to offer when they graduate.

For their part, a class of artistic Eagle Rock students painted a pair of murals in the Hotshot dorm within the national park. The class was studying the visual communication power that is unique to mural art as they work alongside park employees to commemorate the 100th anniversary of RMNP.

As a part of this park partnership, Eagle Rock students who are enrolled in Cynthia Elkins’ and Dayan Safferstein’s art class spent the better part of five weeks painting a mural outside the kitchen of the Hotshot Dorm.

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The class was the idea of Paul Cerda, the superintendent of Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock Art Instructional Specialist, Cindy Elkins

Cindy-Elkins-Eagle-Rock-SchoolTo Cindy Elkins’ way of thinking, she’s cornered the market on fun when it comes to her art instructional specialist calling here at Eagle Rock. Not only does she get to dabble in the arts every single day, but also she has the opportunity to watch students participate in the artistic process — and that includes the innovative and creative notions these kids come up with on any medium.

She’s also big on establishing art projects with Eagle Rock students that involve service to the communities surrounding our school. Along with the locals in Estes Park, Elkins and her students have painted the oval Jesus on the hillside downtown, help create the community unity tile mural in the tunnel next to Kind Coffee, and most recently, the painted mural at the Rocky Mountain National Park’s hotshot dorm.

Here are some other fascinating facets of this artist, mom and dog lover’s life:

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Cindy: Art and drama have always been exciting parts of my life. I taught art in the public school right out of college and offered private art lessons in ceramics and painting in a variety of settings. Prior and during college, I worked as a rafting photographer on the Colorado River and sold my pictures to tourists. Over 26 years of living in Estes Park, I have been very active in local dance and theater productions both at Eagle Rock School and in town.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Cindy: The diverse student population and the idea of creating a school that would do its best to reach students who don’t fit the public school mold — that was my original interest in Eagle Rock. After working in the public school for 13 years, I longed for different ways of doing things and wanted to see if I could help kids become the best they can be. Trying to figure out how to help my own son be teachable was also a big influence in wanting to know more about how to teach.

Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Cindy: I like to cook, paint, play cards and travel. I love being in nature and I enjoy long walks with my dogs. Often I walk with a Continue reading…