Working with School Districts to Create Safe Learning Environments

ER_GandhiOver the past four years, I have had the enormous privilege of working with ROC Restorative, a coalition of groups in Rochester, N.Y., that is transforming the culture and practices of Rochester City Schools.

Eagle Rock’s work with ROC Restorative began with big picture planning with the three leaders of the group — Ruth Turner, Jennifer Ghourlias, and Kirsten Pryor. Through phone conversations each week, we co-designed our plan, including visioning with the core ROC Restorative team and conducting “bright spots inventories” of schools that wanted to implement restorative work.

One of our most powerful early exercises was using a Back to the Future Protocol to set a vision and goals for the group. The vision was that of a transformed culture that embraces students through relationship-building and promoting positive ways of dealing with conflict. And today, there are myriad examples that show where this vision is becoming a reality.

To find bright spots on which to build and highlight successes, we performed numerous inventories at schools. Our team of select Eagle Rock School students and staff — alongside ROC Restorative members — visited schools to conduct interviews, facilitate focus groups, and make observations in order to discover examples of how each school was building community and relationships, as well as examples of conflict being handled in a positive, healing way.

The focus on bright spots was twofold. In a tough school district confronting the challenges imposed on Continue reading…

Trimester Break is Underway — Classes Start Again May 21

Here at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, we began our trimester break late last week, highlighted by the graduation of four students last Friday afternoon, followed a community meeting Saturday and a staff meeting that concluded earlier today.

Eagle Rock School-Spring18BreakGraphic

And while the staff break begins in earnest tomorrow (Wednesday), a number of our instructors, Professional Development Center staff, and other campus staff will be hard at work throughout the trimester breather. Many of our instructors will spend time planning classes for Eagle Rock School’s upcoming 75th trimester (ER-75), and the school’s Leadership Team is heading off to a meeting of the American Honda Education Corporation board of directors on May 3.

Two days later— on Saturday, May 5 — many Eagle Rock volunteers and staff will be in Estes Park, supporting the Estes Park Rotary Duck Race that benefits dozens of local charities and organizations each year — including, of course, our Graduate Higher Education Fund.

For our Professional Development team, there is no real break to speak of, with a schedule packed with program deliveries, meetings, and retreats throughout the country, including: 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…

Fall 2016 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: Sebastian Franco, the 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, is the latest guest author to contribute to the Eagle Rock Blog. Sebastian hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, by way of Los Angeles, Calif. He recently graduated from Colorado State University with a double degree in political science and international studies and a minor in Spanish. As one of his first opportunities in the PDC (Professional Development Center), Sebastian gathered the information for and wrote today’s Eagle Rock blog post.

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Fall 2016 Professional Development Center Update
By Sebastian Franco — 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development

This year I have the opportunity to be part of the Public Allies Fellowship program working with the Professional Development Center (PDC) and the rest of the team here at Eagle Rock.

Having the opportunity to work with the PDC team allows me to understand further the education system around the country and how we can try to provide resources and chances to improve the quality of education our future generation of students will receive. This is something that I’ve been interested in since my sophomore year at Colorado State University. That’s where I started researching and learning the various styles or professional development employed by education systems around the world.

By being part of Public Allies 2016/17 cohort of Eagle Rock fellows, I have the opportunity to learn more about this interest of mine through events, trips, and connections I will experience throughout the next year. This opportunity will enable me to connect with various professionals in the field and learn first-hand what is needed by the education community. One of my first experiences will be a trip to the Ohio Valley, which encompasses portions of Ohio and West Virginia.

The structure of this trip is, of course, new to me, but it turns out this is only the second time in three years that the entire PDC team is traveling together to an event. The idea is to provide an opportunity for each member of the team to experience and see each other’s style of communication and interactions with the community and sponsors.

Throughout the year, each member of the PDC team manages a “portfolio” of clients around the country, creating limited opportunities to travel together as a team. This also allows myself, as the novice PDC fellow, a chance to observe everyone’s approach and style and have a better understanding of what my responsibilities will entail for the remainder of my fellowship.

Estes Park Colorado Trees Fall 2016

Although the Ohio Valley trip is an exciting rarity, there are many other events scheduled throughout the current trimester, most of which are listed below. If you want to learn more about the work we do at Eagle Rock, or how your school or organization can connect with the PDC, contact Dan Condon (associate director of professional development) by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

In the meantime, below is a detailed rundown of our Fall 2016 engagements: Continue reading…

Spring 2016 Update from the Professional Development Center

“Plan your work, then work your plan.” I’m not sure who said it first or if it really matters. All I know is if you decide in advance precisely how you’re going to get from where you are to where you want to be, you stand a much better chance of getting there.

At the level of the lowest common denominator, that’s the essence of any plan, including Eagle Rock’s strategic plan for 2015-2020, aptly titled Vision 2020. And as I shared just last week here on the Eagle Rock Blog (see: Strategic Plan Update: National Contribution), the Professional Development Center team is hard at work facilitating programs, trainings and other custom offerings that lead the high schools with whom we work to transform themselves into high-functioning centers of engagement and learning.

Eagle Rock Professional Development Center Update June 2016

More than half of Eagle Rock School’s instructional specialists — those educators who work within our own school — are now engaged in supporting this national mission-related work, along with the entire professional development center team. As a reminder, “national contribution” is the fifth domain within our strategic plan, a document that enables us to fulfill our organization’s mission and make significant steps toward realizing our vision. And, of course, that vision is that this country’s high school youth be fully engaged in their education.

The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center staff kicked off the spring by actively participating in a number of seminars, retreats, focus groups, workshops and educational events across the country, including the ones mentioned below. If you would like to know more about our work — or how your school or organization can work with the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center — please contact Dan Condon, our associate director of professional development, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

May 2 and 3

The Professional Development staff traveled to the Ryan Banks Academy in Chicago, helping to develop STEM and Humanities curriculum for the academy, which is an urban boarding school scheduled to open in September 2017.

May 2 and 3

Our staff also attended an advisory leader retreat to develop advisory vision and plans at Randolph Union High School in Randolph, Vermont.

May 4 and 5

We conducted asset-based observations and appreciative interviews with the staff of Continue reading…