Strategic Plan Update: Diversity and Inclusion

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the sixth in our series about the Eagle Rock strategic plan — Vision 2020. Below, Jeff Liddle, head of school, shares his insights and updates on our commitment to improving diversity and inclusion at Eagle Rock. If you’re interested in learning about the overall aim of the plan, please read Jeff’s first post in this series: News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

It’s no secret that inequity is a major issue in the United States. Clearly schools must think differently about how they recruit, select, develop and support staff and how they create inclusive environments that serve all young people. We count ourselves among those schools and are therefore also deepening our journey to become a more inclusive and equitable community. While cross-cultural understanding and living in respectful harmony with others have always been Eagle Rock values, our community has recognized that we have room to grow here.

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In our Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, we committed to building a more inclusive culture and increasing the diversity of our staff. It is our intention to be a model organization in this regard, through long term, focused, intentional planning.

Recognizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion

Eagle Rock, which strives to be a model inclusive organization, serves a diverse student body with a diverse staff. It is our intention that staff and students, policies, practices, and programs all align toward the objective of contributing to a more just and equitable society. We are committed to diversity and inclusion for many reasons, including: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Shines at Coalition of Essential Schools’ Fall Forum

Eagle Rock staff and students returned from Portland, Maine, last week, savoring the time they spent working with educators from around the country during this year’s Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) Fall Forum.

This was the 31st such fall conference and Kim Carter, executive director of the QED Foundation kicked things off with her reflections on how the Coalition of Essential Schools came about, reiterating the core ideas put forth in 1984 by CES founder Ted Seizer.

Afterward, Michael Soguero, Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) director, said he loved Carter’s keynote that outlined the history and connections of CES over the decades. He said he was most impressed with how Seizer’s ideas presented way back in the 1980s are today entrenched in school practices. As examples, he cited advisories, demonstrations of mastery (such as Eagle Rock’s own Presentations Of Learning), interdisciplinary courses and more.

As in past forums, Eagle Rock played an active role this time around, with staff and students presenting three sessions at the conference that attracted more than Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staff and Instructors Share Their Vacation Plans

We checked in with a number of Eagle Rock staff members and faculty to find out what they are up to during the trimester break that started last week and ends in early-September — and some of their activities are more exciting than you might think.

These dedicated faculty and administrators are taking to the summer heat by attending bicycling competitions at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet; canoeing in the Yukon Territory; attending music festivals with an endless string of bands; and even spending time on a volcanic island.

"Concepcion from finca" by David Ansley - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Concepcion_from_finca.JPG#/media/File:Concepcion_from_finca.JPG

“Concepcion from finca” by David Ansley – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.

Below, in no particular order, is an offering of “What I’m Doing on My Summer (Trimester) Break,” summed up by 10 Eagle Rock staff and faculty members:

Brighid Scanlon, our instructional specialist in world languages, is in Nicaragua to spend some time on Isla de Ometepe, a volcanic island (see image above). She plans to do lots of yoga and hiking while staying in an international community on the island.

Jesse Beightol, our instructional specialist in outdoor education is spending his break canoeing the Snake River in the Yukon Territory. He and Jack Hilbrich, a 2014-15 Public Allies Fellow in Outdoor Education who returns to us as a contract instructor this fall, are driving to Whitehorse and then flying to the river. They are spending about 18 days whitewater canoeing. This article from The New York Times (Far, Maybe Too Far, Into the Yukon) covers where they are and what they’re doing.

Dan Condon, associate director of professional development, is heading off to Aspen to watch Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge. He says it’s like a United States version of the Tour De France — only much steeper.

Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, our instructional specialist in music said her plans include Continue reading…

Updates On Our Public Allies Fellows 2015 Team Service Projects

Like all organizations our size and scope, we rely on many different types of professionals to help carry out our mission. Instructional specialists deliver the curriculum, while administrative leaders, support staff and those working in any number of operational positions handle everything from facilities and human resources, to admissions and strategic planning.

And since we’re also a professional development organization, we have staff dedicated to working with educators from around the country who wish to study how to re-engage, retain and graduate students. All told, there are 40 full- and part-time employees working here, plus an additional 12 Public Allies Fellows.

Those Public Allies’ serve in full-time apprenticeship positions at nonprofit organizations across the United States — including Eagle Rock — where they create, improve and expand upon services that address youth development, education, public health, economic development and the environment.

In addition to participating in academic and community building activities, Fellows also contribute to Team Service Projects, with several such projects coming to a close this August. What we offer below are updates on five such projects conducted by our own Public Allies Fellows:

Project Title: Courageous Conversations
Run by: Matt Liston, World Language Fellow

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The goal of Matt’s project was to build a stronger Eagle Rock community through conversation and listening. He conducted a number of interviews with Eagle Rock community members, asking them questions about their experiences with race and their awareness of race. The interviews were recorded, and Matt led two different community gatherings in which he presented the edited videos, followed by small group discussions in response.

He is currently organizing his resources and the steps he took to share these Courageous Conversations, so that others can duplicate the project in the future — potentially with a variety of topics. During the last Fellows Learning Seminar (FLS), Matt organized a protocol to receive feedback from other fellows. He has also solicited the help and advice of full-time staff and leadership team members.

By Explore Week, Matt hopes to have a final resource document available, and a plan for a successor to take on this project in the future, making it an ongoing tradition at Eagle Rock.

Project Title: Spiritual Development
Run by: Courtney Lancaster, Service Learning Fellow and Molly Milota, Life After Eagle Rock Fellow

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The purpose of this project was to make spiritual development more accessible and central to the experiences of Eagle Rock students and staff. Courtney and Molly are creating a central location for all things spiritually developing via a Spiritual Development site on the intranet. They have also worked to map out existing Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Dive Into Professional Development

Students at Eagle Rock School are beginning to play an important role in the work done by our Professional Development Center (PDC). Starting with some rapid prototypes, we’ve experienced impressive results thus far. Here was our best thinking, which brought us to where we are today:

Eagle Rock students can offer unique contributions to our professional development offerings because, unlike adults, they have a vastly different perspective on education. And when we involve them in our on-site consultations and work with schools around the country, they have the inside track when it comes to interviewing other students for their particular take on issues and projects we’re working on.

JHP_0002To be sure, participating Eagle Rock students also benefit from this partnership. They gain important skills that will serve them well after graduation. Things like professionalism, organization, interview skills, and knowledge about change processes.

Like we said, the results so far have been impressive. For example, in Vermont, six of our students participated in trainings about assets-based change, assets observations, and appreciative interviews. Student Myles Grant-Pollack traveled with Sarah Bertucci and Anastacia Galloway, two of our PDC associates, to Winooski, Vt., to conduct an assets inventory for the Winooski Middle/High School (WMHS).

Winooski has determined that Physical, Social, and Emotional Well-Being are among their graduation expectations and the school is now working on articulating the key aspects of well-being that they desire their students embolden. Once those are established, they will work on how to assess well-being.

Myles worked on the assets inventory in order for WMHS educators to see where their students are in terms of learning aspects of well-being. This meant that he observed classes, hallways, and Continue reading…