Eagle Rock School Summer Break Means Saying Goodbye and Hello

To date, it’s been an incredibly busy month here at Eagle Rock, what with the graduation of five Eagle Rock School students on Aug. 5, our end of the trimester staff meeting on Aug. 9, bidding farewell to nine of our Public Allies fellows on Aug. 12, and then shortly thereafter saying goodbye to four of our staffers.

Eagle-Rock-School-Summer-Break

So a break in the schedule is well deserved and welcome. However, while students and some of the staff will be taking some time off, our Professional Development Center (PDC) staff remains on the job, working in California, the Ohio Valley, and Boulder. Look for the PDC’s latest update here on the blog soon.

Meanwhile, here’s the game plan beginning early next month: Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Co-Curricular Framework

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the fifth in our series about the Eagle Rock strategic plan — Vision 2020. Below, Philbert Smith, our long-serving director of students, provides us with an update on his team’s efforts related to the Co-Curricular Framework domain. If you’re interested in learning about the overall aim of the plan, please read Head of School Jeff’s Liddle’s post: News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

Eagle Rock School student Kiyah used to describe himself as a problem child. From showing up late to classes and being unprepared, to having a general lack of focus and choosing not to participate in the community, Kiyah was the type of student who consistently got in his own way. “I tried to be “down” and cool,” he says, “but I was all over the place and no place at all — all at the same time.”

Sadly, Kiyah’s prior educational experience isn’t necessarily new or unique. For any number of reasons, high school students like him all across the nation become actively disengaged from their own education. And when that happens in large numbers, students, teachers and school administrators may choose to simply give up or give in to the apathy we so often hear about at the secondary school level.

Eagle Rock School Philbert Smith Blog post

Here at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, we’re on a mission to implement effective and engaging practices that foster each student’s unique potential in order to help young people like Kiyah use their minds to their top potential. And nowhere is that more evident than on our campus in Estes Park, Colo., where we actively engage our students in their own education.

Guiding our daily work is a strategic plan outlining seven “domains” and associated projects for which we — as administrators, faculty and staff — are accountable. And as our director of students, the fourth domain of that plan — the creation of a Co-Curricular Framework — happily falls in my hands.

As Jeff Liddle (Eagle Rock Head of School) noted when he first wrote about Vision 2020 here on the Eagle Rock blog last December, we’ve been hard at work creating a Continue reading…

Latest House Retreats Rekindle the Fire for a New Trimester

Pinon Amazing Race in BoulderIn our ongoing efforts to “engage youth in their own education,” Eagle Rock School goes to great lengths to see that most of that educational engagement is interesting, positive and — in the case of our pre-trimester house retreats — rejuvenating.

Like waking up after an afternoon nap, sometimes it’s difficult to jump to your feet and get back into action. Same goes for returning to campus after a well-deserved trimester break.

House retreats enable our students to reestablish the camaraderie they had before break and reconnect with their fellow house dwellers. It’s two and a half days of “what I did on break,” punctuated by meals, competitions, sightseeing and time to refocus on the trimester immediately facing these students.

Mixed in with all that frivolity and fellowship, there are house meetings where house leaders and intramural captains are elected. And there is serious discussion about topics of importance to each living community, as well as a sober revisiting of the house mission statement.

Recently, four of our six campus houses handed us notes and photos of their house retreat happenings and we’ve related those activities below: Continue reading…

We’re Hiring: Eagle Rock Director of Students

Eagle Rock School Community

As most of our readers know, Philbert Smith, our beloved and longtime director of students, is retiring at the end of this summer after serving our student population deeply — and with great commitment — these past 22 years.

Words cannot do justice to the gratitude Eagle Rock owes Philbert for his service. And while no one will ever replace him, we do need to move ahead and start the process of finding a new director of students.

We understand that the best candidates often come from the personal relationships we have with professionals around the country, which should help us generate a great pool of applicants. So it’s critically important that the Eagle Rock community kick into high gear and help us get the word out.

If you know someone who might be a good fit, please direct them to the Eagle Rock Employment page for more information on the position and the application process. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights associated with the job: Continue reading…

Spring 2015 Reading Recommendations From Eagle Rock

We’re thinking it was Harry S. Truman who said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers,” and that rhymed remark certainly holds true for educators. The staff here at the Eagle Rock School are avid readers, each knowing full well that in order to be good educators, you have to keep up with trends in education — not to mention culture.

Here then are some books they suggest for your spring perusal:

TheGlobalAchievementGapThe Global Achievement Gap — By: Tony Wagner
Recommended by Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate

The premise of this book is that there is a gap between what our schools are teaching and the skills and knowledge students actually need in today’s world. Tony Wagner, who currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, shows convincingly that even our “best” schools are not teaching key skills like critical thinking and adaptability. I’ve drawn upon Wagner’s work when helping Eagle Rock’s partner schools articulate their priorities for student learning, and to fuel work, finding better ways to assess what students are learning and how well schools are doing. Wagner recommends the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) as one of the very few assessments that measure the skills that matter. And that is a key assessment that we have chosen to use at Eagle Rock.

CoveringBookCoverCovering: The Hidden Assault of Our Civil Rights — By: Kenji Yoshino
Recommended by Philbert SmithDirector of Students

This book provides a different lens through which to look at civil rights. The premise is that we all have a tendency to tone down an identity that does not fit the mainstream. In other words “cover.”  I found this book to be insightful. I like the final paragraph, which reads, “We must use the relative freedom of adulthood to integrate the many selves we hold.” This includes uncovering the selves we buried long ago because they were inconvenient, impractical or even hated. Because they must pass the test of survival, most of the selves we hold, like most of our lives, are ordinary. Yet sometimes, what is consequential in us begins to shine.”

WhatKindOfCitizenWhat Kind of Citizen?: Educating Our Children for the Common Good — By: Joel Westheimer
Recommended by Diego Duran-Medina, Societies and Cultures Instructional Specialist

I’ve been reading this book for the last couple of weeks and it’s been instrumental in how I think about my teaching.

I love this book because it argues for placing citizenship as one of the most important goals of education, and argues that critical skills are not only useful for reading, writing and academics, but for shaping the kind of society that our students inherit and work to build. The book has been helpful in thinking about what we do in the Heartivism courses and Societies and Cultures Department here at Eagle Rock. Is should be required reading for anyone who teaches social studies or history. A key takeaway is understanding that education can be a force for conformity instead of intellectual and societal liberation.

BlackFacesWhiteSpacesBookCoverBlack Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors — By: Carolyn Finney
Recommended by Jesse Beightol, Instructional Specialist in Outdoor Education

“Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.”

The above quote is from the back cover of this book. Many Eagle Rock School students arrive here with the perception that outdoor education is not for people of color. There are many institutional barriers to equal participation in outdoor pursuits, and books such as “Black Faces, White Spaces” help to explain why these barriers exist and what we can Continue reading…