Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow Develops His Own ‘Sense of Place’

jordan-cernaI arrived at Eagle Rock School a year ago as a contract instructor tasked with co-facilitating a wilderness experience for new students. The 38-day contract was to help provide a wilderness experience in which all incoming Eagle Rock School students must participate prior to becoming an official member of the Eagle Rock community.

While getting to know many students and staff at Eagle Rock during those initial days, I began to feel the connection and commitment these educators and kids had to their environment. Whether it was an educational opportunity or a place of employment, each individual knew they belonged to something very special.

This mountainside setting simply felt like a force of influence. As we all settled into our new environment, I saw students taking time from their learning environment to work on personal growth. I saw staff members who told me they returned to Eagle Rock after trying out new positions in other locations with other organizations. What powerful bond brought these individuals back to Eagle Rock?

As I walked the trails on campus and wandered around the rustic buildings in town, I purposely spent a lot o Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s 2016/2017 Public Allies Fellows

Fresh off two full weeks of on-campus training, our 2016/2017 cohort of Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows now officially begin — or in some cases continue — their year-long service and leadership development as part of the national Public Allies Fellowship.

During their time here, these new and returning fellows will take an active part in Eagle Rock’s residential and community-based school, as well as support our Professional Development Center’s national work. Each fellow has shown a passion for alternative teaching and progressive approaches to learning, youth development and empowerment. And each is expected to support our objective of re-engaging high-school students in their education.

All fellows participate in on-going professional development on a weekly basis, and are a part of regular full-staff meetings. Professional development topics include teaching approaches and pedagogy, leadership development, capacity building, equity, cross-cultural understanding and social justice, among others (including self care).

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Here is a short biography and educational history of each fellow in the cohort:

Aaron Segura, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Curriculum

Aaron was brought up in Ohio and graduated from Clark University where he studied political science and environmental studies, and played for the men’s soccer team. Aaron most recently resided in upstate New Hampshire where he worked at an alternative boarding school. A few of Aaron’s interests include watching and playing soccer, rock climbing, ultra-running, and learning about human anatomy and physiology.

Alexus Bell, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science

Alexus is originally from San Diego, Calif., but found her career passion while majoring in educational science at the Continue reading…

Nine Eagle Rock School Students Earn Their Diplomas

Just in time for the holidays, nine Eagle Rock School students became the latest graduates to emerge from our campus in Estes Park, Colo. — each set to embark on that lifelong journey that almost all commencement speakers talk about.

ER 67’s grads (the 67th graduating class in the history of Eagle Rock School) received their diplomas on Friday, Dec. 11, in ceremonies that were recorded and are now available to watch online at Eagle Rock’s Ustream channel. Graduates included Ashalou Harrison, Emelia Eller, Daisy Delgado, Joey Flores, Cristian Aguiluz, Bryan Yanez, Kira Sinclair, Aaron Beckles and Saben Hinckley.

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With their departure, we’re pleased to provide a little background on the graduates, along with words of wisdom from each:

Ashalou Harrison joined us in ER 59 and was a Juniper House resident who was born in Nepal and raised in Hawaii. Highlights of her time at Eagle Rock include working at Rocky Mountain National Park for two summers and traveling with the Eagle Rock Professional Development (PDC) team to San Francisco for a PDC engagement.

This athletic and funny grad, who’s heading off to college after graduation, suggests future Eagle Rock students, “don’t force upon anything — just go with the flow.”

Emelia Eller, ER 60, is from Austin, Texas and St. Louis, Mo., but has spent the past few years as a Continue reading…

NOLS and Outward Bound Scholarships Foster Leadership Skills

Each summer, we’re blessed with the opportunity to engage with students in a variety of outdoor education experiences both on and off our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colorado.

In addition to our New Student Wilderness Orientation course, the summer trimester often includes classes such as For the Birds, River Watch, Colorado Rocks, The Physics of Mountain Biking and Outdoor Leadership. In addition, the mid-trimester Explore Week brings the highly sought-after Green River canoe trip and an outdoor outing to the famous Vedauwoo climbing area in Wyoming.

In addition to these opportunities, we are able to offer scholarships to students who have shown consistent interest in outdoor education , and have demonstrated leadership in various roles on campus. Through our growing relationship with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Outward Bound (OB), Eagle Rock School is awarded a small number of highly coveted scholarships for our students to attend either a NOLS expedition through its Gateway Partnership Program or an Outward Bound expedition through its Pinnacle Scholars program.

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Eagle Rock students are hand selected for these opportunities and are then able to choose from a variety of course options that best fit their interests. This summer, current Eagle Rock School student Bryan Yanez and Eagle Rock School graduate Valentina Ramirez were both awarded NOLS Gateway scholarships. Current student Stacy Escobar was awarded an OB scholarship.

While both of these programs are highly regarded on an international level, there are slight differences in their mission and curriculum. Outward Bound is, in many ways, considered a pioneer in outdoor and experiential education. It was founded in Aberdovey, Wales in 1941 by Kurt Hahn and Lawrence Holt, with support from the UK shipping company, Blue Funnel Line. , Hahn believed in the “concept of an intense experience surmounting challenges in a natural setting, through which the individual builds his (her) sense of self-worth, the group comes to a heightened awareness of human interdependence, and all grow in concern for those in danger and need.”

Outward Bound went on to develop a school in the United States in 1961 that is thriving at 17 different OB schools and centers across the U.S. The educational framework still emphasizes, “High achievement through active learning, character development and teamwork.”

A partnership between Eagle Rock and Outward Bound has been in place for the past seven years. Each year, one or two Eagle Rock School students receive scholarships through the Pinnacle Scholar Program. This year, Stacy Escobar chose to attend a month-long OB course in Utah that included backpacking, whitewater rafting and canyoneering. Stacy went into this course with strong leadership skills and was challenged with a group of students that came from a very different life experiences than herself.

When asked about her Outward Bound experience, Stacy said: Continue reading…

News From the Rock — Summer 2014

Believe it or not, we just this month wrapped up our 63rd trimester and our students returned home on Aug. 9.

As a result, it’s a different atmosphere here on campus as contractors work feverishly to maintain our facilities, new staff members settle in, and our veteran staff begins planning for the upcoming academic year — when they’re not catching up on some well-deserved rest.  While all this is going on, let’s take a quick peek at what I only halfway jokingly like to call, “The Summer That Was.”

Working with teenagers can be a messy business, and this summer was certainly no exception to that axiom. A few of our students made decisions that resulted in their dis-enrollment and some others struggled as that process played out. There were moments when it felt like things were falling apart.

However, true to the spirit that is Eagle Rock, the low points tested our conviction and pushed us into action. Our community has tremendous resilience and through hard work, well-placed hope, some good ideas, a little vulnerability, some forgiveness, and a few heartfelt apologies, we ended the trimester with a wonderful group of graduates and we’re headed in a positive direction.

As a side note, anyone who thinks the answer to all of the educational woes in this country lie in some sterile set of standards or one-size-fits-all solution to the “problem of the day,” has not spent enough time in schools. The answers, growth, insight — and ultimately the deep learning — often occur in the conflict. When we stay present with each other, magic can happen. Such is the messy but transformative nature of living smack dab in the middle of a community.

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Despite the challenges, some wonderful things also occurred this summer: Continue reading…