Eagle Rock’s Robert Burkhardt Garners Prestigious Education Award

Robert Burkhardt, Eagle Rock’s founding head of school, recently received the coveted Aldo Leopold Award from The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.

The Lawrenceville Medal/Aldo Leopold Award is the highest honor granted by this coed independent college prep boarding school for students in grades 9 through 12. Located on 700 acres in the historic Lawrenceville section of Lawrence Township, NJ, the school has more than 800 students from 34 states and 40 countries, and a teacher population of 115 for a 7.2:1 student-teacher ratio.

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The Lawrenceville Medal has been awarded each year since 1991 and its prestigious recipients have included Nobel Laureates, philanthropists, jurists, physicians, Pulitzer Prize winners, community leaders, a rock and roll star, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, the president of Honduras, and a Saudi prince.

The award is dedicated to the memory of Aldo Leopold, a distinguished environmentalist and author, and it is bestowed on a former Lawrenceville alumnus who has demonstrated “brilliant, lifelong work in a significant field of endeavor.”

That description fits perfectly with the accomplishments of our own Robert Burkhardt — an educator who has provided thousands of Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellows — Where Are They Now? (Part 1)

Welcome to what will be the first of many updates about what’s happening in the lives of educators who participated in the yearlong Public Allies fellowship program here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado. What we intend to offer with posts such as these is a glimpse into the lives of those who went on to forge their careers in progressive education post-Eagle Rock.

But first, a short explanation of what the Public Allies program is all about. It’s a national movement based on the notion that everybody leads and everyone can make a difference. That difference can be as small as helping someone believe in themselves, to step up and make change.

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Public Allies has as its mission the advancement of new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. The Public Allies signature AmeriCorps Ally Program identifies diverse young adults and prepares them for leadership through paid full-time nonprofit apprenticeships and rigorous leadership training.

And how has that worked out so far? In the past 23 years, more than 6,000 Allies have completed the program with more than 80 percent of them continuing careers in nonprofit and public service. Meanwhile, many of this nation’s nonprofits are struggling to recruit and retain the diverse talent they need to address our most pressing community challenges. The Millennial generation — the largest and most diverse generation in history — is energized to work for change, but doesn’t know how to get started.

That’s where Public Allies comes in. With the edict that “everyone leads,” participants create pathways for young people to engage in their communities, and help communities and organizations tap the energy, passion, and perspectives of a new generation. Public Allies is the leadership and human capital solution our diverse communities need.

That brings us where we are today… happy to tell you about two former Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows and their current pursuits. First up, Anna McCanse Nelson: Continue reading…

Meet The Eagle Rock Grad Who Sailed 27,000 Miles Solo

Matt Rutherford graduated from Eagle Rock way back in August of 2001 (ER 24 as we call it around here), and according to Robert Burkhardt, our founding head of school, this former student is being quite productive these days.

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It’s been a bunch of busy years for Rutherford, who prior to leaving Eagle Rock articulated three distinct and immediate goals for himself during his final POLs (Presentations of Learning):

  1. Ride a mountain bike across Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
  2. Sail alone across an ocean.
  3. Start and run a not-for-profit organization focused on addressing important environmental issues.

Well, after leaving Eagle Rock, Rutherford did ride his mountain bike across those three Southeast Asian countries. He did sail across an ocean (in fact, he became the first person in history to complete a nonstop, single-handed voyage circumnavigating North and South America; that’s 309 days and 27,077 miles on the ocean without stepping ashore even briefly to stretch his legs). And he did start a not-for-profit organization that’s deeply focused on positively impacting the environment — the Ocean Research Project aims to identify new, lower-cost methods of conducting ocean-based research.

Burkhardt said he tried to get in touch with Rutherford last month to find out what this grad was up to these days, and the former student’s voicemail recording announced he wasn’t taking messages. It suggested callers ring back after Feb. 1.

By Feb. 3, Rutherford’s voicemail box was Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Gathering: A Daily Ritual for Coming Together

For those of us who work and learn at Eagle Rock School, community is at the core of our experience. And our daily “Gathering” has long been the centerpiece of that idea.

Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we sit in the hearth area of the Lodge to engage in a 20-minute conversation about community. On Wednesdays, Gathering is held in a number of different ways ­– but that’s a topic for another blog post.

We begin each Gathering with 30 seconds of silence; then we move on to a 10-minute presentation, followed by five minutes of announcements and five minutes of live music. Anyone can sign up to speak at gathering and the topics are as varied as the students and staff themselves.

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A sampling of recent topics is in order:

  • Student Song Candea wowed us with a Dr. Seuss-inspired mid-career personal growth presentation.
  • Eagle Rock receptionist Susie D’Amico shared her knitting talents and talked about aesthetic expression.
  • Our College Tour Explore Week class shared insights from its Midwest tour of college campuses.
  • Sonya Stolmar and Ryan Powell addressed one of our 10 commitments – “Develop my mind through intellectual discipline, my body through physical fitness, and my spirit through thoughtful contemplation.”
  • Since every Gathering wraps up with music, Life After Eagle Rock Fellow Rebecca Fenn on ukulele, along with and wilderness instructor, Matt Bynum on guitar, brought down the house with their own special version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”

We’d like to think a successful Gathering occurs when we walk away thinking differently, inspired by live music, and most important, become reconnected.

Recently I asked Robert Burkhardt, Eagle Rock’s founding head of school, to share some of the history behind our Gatherings. Here’s what he recalls: Continue reading…