Meet the Team: Christopher Iafrati, Human Performance Center Adjunct Instructional Specialist

Earlier this fall, Christopher lafrati was named our Adjunct Instructional Specialist for our Human Performance Center (HPC) — a role that has the Upstate New York native tasked with organizing morning exercise and intramurals, as well as overseeing safety in our Olympic size swimming pool, and teaching classes that help Eagle Rock School students establish and maintain healthy life skills.

Christopher lafratiWhile Christopher is new to his current role on our instructional staff, he’s is no stranger to Eagle Rock, having served as part of the HPC team as a Public Allies Fellow in 2015/2016. And lucky for us, he’s also no stranger to taking on optional assignments, which this trimester includes teaching yoga and becoming a part of our school’s ensemble group.

Our new adjunct instructional specialist received a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science from the State University of New York at Buffalo (aka University at Buffalo) and, following his fellowship year, returned to that school to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.

We recently asked Christopher to fill us in on a few other details of his life, and below are his responses: Continue reading…

Meet the Team: Jannai Smith, Human Performance Instructional Specialist

Jannai SmithJannai Smith, the Human Performance Instructional Specialist here at Eagle Rock School, kick-starts her work days by taking our students through their morning exercises, conducting intramurals and recreation activities. In addition, she’s responsible for our Human Performance Center, where she plans, organizes and directs the operations of sports and fitness programs, activities and services aimed at addresses students’ physical fitness and healthy living.

Jannai joined us this past summer, and she arrived here with an impressive work history, having been a physical education teacher at a public school in Muncie, Ind. As a coach, she recalls spending many nights on the road, traveling to different games for volleyball, basketball and track & field. Prior to that, Jannai worked for three years in a juvenile detention/treatment center and another three years as a Ball State Recreational Center intern.

We asked Jannai to tell us a little about herself, and here is what she had to say:

Eagle Rock: Why did you choose to come to work for Eagle Rock?

Jannai Smith: I decided to apply because Eagle Rock offered Continue reading…

By Facing Her Fears, Eagle Rock Student Becomes a Certified Lifeguard

When I first spotted Brianna by the swimming pool, I only knew her as “Javonnie’s little sister.” This was back in July of 2016 when I was teaching Javonnie how to face her trepidations about getting across large bodies of water (see Eagle Rock Students Overcome Fears and Take the Plunge).

Brianna eventually joined her older sibling in the Eagle Rock pool, steadily improving her limited swimming skills and overcoming her own discomfort with deep water. She continued to put a lot of work into that effort and the result was a notable increase in her physical skills, as well as a gain in confidence when in the school pool

Brianna Eagle Rock School Swimmer

As with most fledgling swimmers, Brianna’s style was “all out,” which means she swam with all of her effort in order to stay afloat. This frantic floundering resulted in a rapid depletion of energy and an increase in the resultant fear of head-high water. It took a long time for her to develop the stamina to swim one length of the pool

After a few months of taking her morning swims most seriously, Brianna joined our Learn to Swim Class where we work on form, confidence, style and the rudiments and history of swimming in the United States.

The class also provides a video analysis of each swimmer’s skills, and it was through this visual assessment that Brianna was able to Continue reading…

Doing Nothing on Thanksgiving is Not an Option at Eagle Rock School

One thing you can’t say about Thanksgiving at Eagle Rock School is that there’s nothing to do. This is one of those times of the year when students, staff and instructors are in accord that this mountainside campus of ours is indeed a great place to spend late-November holidays.

And, much like the name of the holiday, there’s plenty of gratitude to go around as our community prepares for literally dozens of events and activities over a four-day period. It’s a time when we all gather together to celebrate how fortunate we are to live in the Rocky Mountains surrounded by forests that a lot of us like to call home.

Thanksgiving Day 'Gathering' at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center

Thanksgiving Day ‘Gathering’ at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center

Thanksgiving at Eagle Rock is about celebrating the importance of having each other and remembering that we are all here to better ourselves. It’s a time to appreciate what we’ve done to improve ourselves and what we’ve done to help others. It’s a celebration of how we have impacted each other’s lives in a positive way and to celebrate those successes.

Whether we’re indoors creating art or standing outside in the cold playing touch football, the idea is to spend time together.

The highlight of the holiday, of course, is today’s Thanksgiving Day dinner at 3pm, skillfully prepared by 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.

Javonnie_Swimming_Eagle_Rock_School

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…