Marking 5 Years of Professional Development for Ohio Valley’s Related Arts Instructors

Described in simple terms, the Ohio Valley encompasses a series of small towns alongside the Ohio River in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all of them heavily dependent on the steel industry.

During my high school years, our nation’s steel industry began to collapse and with it, the economies of many of these riverside communities, among them my own hometown of Weirton, West Virginia. Weirton Steel — our city’s primary employer — fell on hard times and as a result, many families in that town joined others up and down the Ohio River who suffered major economic losses.

Just across the river from my hometown lies Steubenville, Ohio, whosename is derived from Fort Steuben, a 1786 fort that sat within the city’s current limits and was named for German-Prussian military officer Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Today, a replica of the fort is open to the public (downtown on South Third Street). The city’s other claims to fame are its annual Christmas Nutcracker Village & Advent Market, Dean Martin Festival, and more than 25 murals scattered throughout the city. Steuben is also the county seat of Jefferson County.

As an Ohio Valley native — and with the above as background — I take great pride in the work I’m able to do in this area through a long-time partnership between our Professional Development Center (PDC) and the Jefferson County Education Service Center (ESC).

This educational collaboration started as a Continue reading…

Winter/Spring 2018 Professional Development Center Update

Winter/Spring 2018 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note:  Each year, the highly skilled and energetic staff from within Eagle Rock Professional Development Center (PDC) pack up and head off to visit dozens of high schools from coast to coast. Once on the ground, they meet up with teachers and administrators in support of efforts intended to engage students in their own education.

Professional Development Eagle Rock

Our insistence on creating high-functioning centers of learning — fueled by active student engagement — is what has kept our professional development services so popular with educators nationwide for nearly 25 years.

What we offer below is a calendar listing of what we have done so far this year, and what lies in the immediate future as our PDC crew participates with schools in cities that touch all corners of our country. This schedule was compiled by Sebastian Franco, our 2017/2018 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development.

JANUARY 2018

Crosstown-High

Jan. 8 – 11
Crosstown High School (CXH) and Future Focused Education (formerly the New Mexico Center for School Leadership) Memphis, TN — Crosstown High School (CXH is among the newest public charter schools, opening this August. Last month, Eagle Rock’s Director of Professional Development Michael Soguero, 2017/2018 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Music Josue Quintana, and World Languages Instructional Specialist Josan Perales led a retreat for CXH. They facilitated this XQ Super School’s efforts to build curriculum in partnership with community partners. Josan and Josue followed up by conducting three local student focus groups while Michael joined with leaders from Future Focused Education to assist with the creation of new schools.

Jan. 10
Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD), OR — NWRESD supports school districts northwest of Portland with the mission to provide students with the right tools and resources to prepare them for higher education and potential careers. Professional Development Associate Sarah Bertucci headed a team retreat for Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Poets Net Last-minute Spot in National Poetry Slam

The name of the class was Poetic Justice, and the Eagle Rock School students enrolled last trimester received a little poetic justice of their own earlier this year by snaring a position in a big-time poetry slam in San Francisco.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a poetry slam is a competition at which poets recite or read original work. Poetry slamming began in Chicago in the mid-80’s when performance poet Marc Kelly Smith began experimenting with open mic night and venues for poetry readings by making them competitive.

My students knew it was a long shot when we applied for a slot in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, which was held last month in San Francisco. After all, we’d never performed or participated in slams outside Colorado’s Front Range. On top of that, we’re a fairly small school, and we’re new to big-time spoken-word poetry competition.

(Photo ©2017 Daniel Schaefer of Outlier Imagery)

(Photo ©2017 Daniel Schaefer of Outlier Imagery)

Nevertheless, we applied to participate, and the festival’s powers-that-be graciously placed us on a waiting list. Then at the last moment, our school was pulled off the wait list and we were welcomed to participate into the four-day mid-July festival.

Student Engagement Through Spoken-word Poetry

This was indeed a highlight for a classroom of students who — on a daily basis — express their passion for poetry by reading, writing, viewing and performing all things related to spoken-word composition. In conjunction with what they are learning, our students also explored their own Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staffers Look Back on their Favorite Education-themed Films

For many people, a good movie provides the perspective of being an outsider looking in, adding new insight to a particular issue or event. For others, it’s just an opportunity to sit back and enjoy something entertaining.

Film-Reel

Regardless, movies are a valuable art form that can be used to educate, inspire and demand change. In the spirit of celebrating all that cinema has to offer, Eagle Rock staff members recently reflected on their favorite education-themed movies.

Here are their thoughts on the cinema in education:

Film: Once – Directed by John Carney
Commentary by: Jen Frickey, Director of Curriculum

The film musical Once follows a vacuum repairman who spends his evenings busking on the street by playing guitar and singing. A Czech immigrant comes across this musician and asks him if he can repair her broken vacuum. The woman is also a songwriter but spends most her time performing odd jobs and taking care of her mother and daughter.

As the pair gets to know each other, the Czech girl agrees to help the part-time street musician as he writes and records a demo tape in hopes of landing a music contract. The two learn about each other’s past lovers and profess their newly found love for each other — all through the songs they’re writing.

While not a typical ‘education movie’ about teaching and learning, Once is a beautiful story of how common interests and passion can bring people together and create amazing results. It reminds me of how important it is that we Continue reading…

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…