Meet the Team: Student Services Program Manager, Nia Dawson

Nia-Dawson-Eagle-Rock-SchoolAs our Student Services Program Manager, Nia Dawson develops and supports non-academic activities within the Eagle Rock community. As a member of the student support team, she works closely with students and staff to develop sustainable opportunities for partnership.

Nia grew up in Los Angeles and began her career working in youth services with the YMCA. She received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Syracuse University in New York with a concentration on youth development.

And over the past two decades and prior to joining our team in January of this year, Nia developed and managed programs on both coasts for the Urban League, the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) — New York chapter, and most recently the Harlem Children’s Zone — a pioneering nonprofit organization committed to ending generational poverty in Central Harlem, New York.

We posed a few professional and personal questions to Nia and here’s what she had to say: Continue reading…

Here’s an Online Library Selection of Our Favorite TED Talks

Most everyone associated with Eagle Rock — and in particular those who work within our School and Professional Development Center (PDC) — have always been big fans of TED talks. Run by a nonprofit organization devoted to what it calls “Ideas Worth Spreading,” TED talks have been delivered at conferences around the globe since 1990.

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In fact, PDC staffers and students recently shared a TED connection at TEDxABQ2015 in Albuquerque, N.M. — an event that focused specifically on education (see: Eagle Rock PDC Lends an Experienced Hand at TEDxABQ Education). And while merely attending a TED event may appear on the surface to be a passive act, the listening aspect is huge to our PDC’s theory of action.

That theory begins with the edict that we don’t just drop in on an educational institution and impose our process on that entity. Instead, we begin by listening — embedding ourselves in the context, conducting interviews and most important, observing and hearing from students and educators local alike. We get a better understanding of what’s going on by listening to what local school leaders value and observing those values in the school setting.

Our recent attendance at TEDxABQEducation reflects this first step. We had already been engaged to help Albuquerque schools better document and scale their approach to personalized learning (see: New Metrics Initiative Taking Shape in New Mexico). So we sent our Director of Professional Development, Michael Soguero, along with a PDC Fellow Kelsey Baun and four Eagle Rock students to Albuquerque where they embedded themselves in four local schools to conduct focus group interviews.

As a result, we are currently developing processes that support local wisdom to solve local problems. We take advantage of the best local thinking rather than impose a generic framework that may be completely foreign to the local school district.

So whenever the topic of TED talks surfaces, we’re all in. If you’ve never experienced what TED offers educators, click on one of the videos below — just for a taste. We’re thinking you’ll probably end up watching each of them.

When 13 year-old Logan LaPlante grows up, he wants to be happy and healthy. This talented teen discusses how hacking his own education is helping him achieve this goal. From Feb. 2013:

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures — rather than undermines — the creative process. From Feb. 2006: Continue reading…