Meet The Team: Jack Hilbrich, Adjunct Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist

Jack Hilbrich is a huge part of our outdoor education department, responsible for stewarding our wilderness curriculum, as well as instructing and supervising on our new student wilderness course each trimester. A semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) launched his career as a course director, taking Jack to the deserts of the American Southwest, the Northwoods of Canada and other wildernesses areas. We caught up with Jack — who previously served as our 2014-15 Public Allies Fellow in Outdoor Education — in between paddling, biking and ice hockey to ask him about another favorite interest: Eagle Rock School.

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Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock? 

Jack Hilbrich: Prior to coming to Eagle Rock I worked as a Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Matt Bynum, Eagle Rock’s Outdoor Education Adjunct Instructor

Matt_Bynum_Eagle_Rock_SchoolThe one place you’ll seldom find our latest featured Eagle Rock educator is in the classroom. Matt Bynum is our outdoor education adjunct instructor and you can’t do all that much hands-on teaching about the Great Outdoors when four walls topped by a ceiling surround you.

Matt starts each trimester either instructing or directing our Wilderness Orientation course, and then, if time permits, he teaches an Explore Week course. The second half of each trimester finds him busy managing the wilderness gear, developing curriculum for our outdoor offerings, coordinating the Veteran Pin system, serving on our Risk Management Committee, and teaching the occasional wilderness class.

We sat Matt down — not an easy task — and quizzed him on his background and interest in progressive education.  Here’s what he had to say:

Eagle Rock: Where did you receive your college degrees?

Matt Bynum: I graduated in 2006 from Western State College in Gunnison, Colo. I majored in outdoor leadership and minored in environmental studies. The classes I took there helped get me really excited for outdoor education while building a solid base from which to work. I loved the hands-on approach and small class sizes. I can’t thank those professors enough. 

ER: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock? 

Matt: Before my Public Allies fellowship in 2009, I worked as an instructor and course director at Outward Bound in Colorado for five years. These were predominantly mountaineering courses. I also did a summer of trail work, taught environmental science, and guided outdoor trips at my college. Immediately before coming back to Eagle Rock in 2013, I was teaching at a public school in Commerce City through Goodwill. When I was not instructing, I spent time traveling and climbing in Patagonia, Ecuador and Asia. 

ER: What attracted you to Eagle Rock? 

Matt: A friend in college first told me about Eagle Rock. A few years later, I 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…