Summer 2017 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center works with educators and schools committed to making high school a more engaging experience for our youth. That’s because we envision high schools as high functioning centers of learning that are fueled by engagement. Through our offerings (click here for a full list), we facilitate school improvement and support the implementation of engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and help young people use their minds well.

Below is a list that’s inclusive of where we’ve been thus far this spring, along with information about where our staff is headed between now and August. Complied by Eagle Rock’s 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, Sebastian Franco, this list demonstrates just a portion of Eagle Rock’s relevance on a national scale, and offers inspiration for educators and schools interested in professional development initiatives of their own.

Traveling separately, and sometimes as a team, our professional development staff members facilitate, convene, support, participate and work with local schools through the following engagements:

MAY

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May 8 – 10: Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin, TX — The Austin Independent School District is responsible for the quality of education in the Austin District of Texas. Its mission is to prepare students for college and beyond as they live in one of the best cities for working and living. Eagle Rock’s director of professional development, Michael Soguero, will continue working with the leadership of AISD, as it continues to develop and support an entrepreneurial education program. This is part of efforts to better prepare students for 21st century demands. Michael will be traveling with Eagle Rock Human Performance and Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist, Jon Anderson to continue working with AISD from June 26 – 30.

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May 11: Estes Park School District (EPSD), Estes Park, CO — The EPSD is in charge of all education programs in the Estes Valley area and its focus is to prepare students to shine as citizens in a world that is increasingly diverse and technological. Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate, and Sebastian Franco, Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow, have supported the school district on outreach efforts in conjunction with the district’s Estes Thrives initiative. This Professional Development Center’s work focused Continue reading…

Spring Break at Eagle Rock School is Worktime for Many Eagle Rockers

Eagle Rock School’s 71st trimester officially ended last week, with students from all points of the compass heading home for a well-deserved break. Same goes for many staff and instructional specialists — many are welcoming a short break afforded by the trimester cycle. But as you’ll see from reading on, not all who call Eagle Rock home are on break.

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Staff that are on break return to campus on Monday, May 8, followed by veteran students who come back on Sunday, May 14, to participate in some All School activities and house retreats before classes start on Monday, May 22.

Eagle Rock’s new students — the incoming group we’ll refer to as ER 72 — arrive on Saturday, May 20, just in time for a week of being on campus before heading out for their Continue reading…

Spring 2017 Update from the Professional Development Center

Since beginning my Public Allies Fellowship with Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center last fall, I have taken note of the many traits that make our professional development team so successful.

As background, the Professional Development Center team is charged with executing on a mission to support schools (we refer to them as “partners”) around the country to increase high school student engagement. What is not well known is that the team provides those services to our partners at no cost to them, and our team consists of just four facilitators who regularly provide our services. This presents an interesting challenge as we cannot increase our headcount despite the ever-increasing demand for our services.

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To meet that challenge, the team has developed a set of practices characterized by working smarter rather than harder. Hallmarks of the team’s practice include organization, efficiency, and constant communication among staffers. Everyone understands what the goals are for each trimester and how their portfolio of partners needs to be shaped for maximum impact.

In normal circumstances, observing such traits among a high-functioning team should be a simple matter. But circumstances here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center are not normal, with all six members of the professional development team constantly Continue reading…

CES Gathering Provides Educational Participants with the Essentials

Earlier this month, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) – a national organization that works to create and sustain equitable, intellectually vibrant, personalized schools and to make such schools the norm of American public education — held an extraordinary national gathering in Providence, R.I., where its work first began back in 1984.

Called Fall Forum 2016, this most recent event featured a gathering of educators and progressive education advocates skilled at — and committed to — student-focused, teacher-led, equitable, and challenging learning.

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During the Dec. 1-3 event, participants reflected on the work of the Coalition of Essential Schools, the contributions of CES Founder Ted Sizer and generations of CES educators, the inheritors and sustainers of CES’s work, and the future of schools led by the passions of students and teachers.

Eagle Rockers in attendance included Jeff Liddle, Head of School; Dan Condon, Associate Director of Professional Development; Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate; and Eagle Rock students Nigel Taylor and Soren Arvidson.

On Thursday evening of the event, Dan and the students attended a viewing of the film Most Likely to Succeed, followed by discussion with local and national education change leaders. (As an aside, if you haven’t watched Most Likely to Succeed, add it to your list. Many people are saying it’s the best film ever made on the topic of Continue reading…

Winooski School Tackles Equity in Personalization

Editor’s Note: Inspired by Sarah Bertucci, our professional development associate, Eagle Rock is leading five schools through a yearlong project with the objective of improving equity at those schools by means of independent projects. Last summer, Growing Equity Together was launched with representatives from all five schools gathering on at our campus in Estes Park, Colo., to make plans. Today’s post is an update from Winooski Middle/High School — one of the five schools involved in this innovative program.

From Lindsey Cox, iLab Humanities Teacher — Winooski Middle/High School

As one of the schools participating in The Growing Equity Together Project, Winooski Middle/High School is nearing the end of its first continuous improvement cycle aimed at supporting students in Grades 6 through 9.

ilab-winooski-logoThe objective is to develop the confidence these youngsters need to be successful when working on personalized learning projects.

Winooski is a small town in northwest Vermont that also serves as one of our nation’s refugee resettlement locations. Our middle/high school has about 380 students in grades 6-12 with about 30 percent being English Language Learning (ELL) students and 70 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch status.

Over the past four years, Winooski has benefited from being part of a student-centered learning grant in collaboration with Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt., with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

The grant effort, known as the Partnership for Change, has supported educators in shifting their teaching and learning systems to be more student-centered by being more personalized and proficiency-based. Simultaneously, legislation passed in 2013 known as (PDF) Act 77: The Flexible Pathways Bill (PDF), mandates a progressive educational agenda for the entire state because it requires all students — beginning with the class of 2020 — to graduate based on proficiencies instead of Carnegie units.

Act 77 also requires students in grades 7 through 12 to Continue reading…