It’s ‘Back to School’ Time for one Eagle Rock School Architect

Who better to teach a course on architecture to Eagle Rock School students than one of the people who was part of the original team of architects that designed our 640-acre campus back in the early 1990s? Noted architect Jeff Winston has returned to Eagle Rock to co-instruct Architecture — a class which explores the spaces in which we spend our days and how these architectural areas define many aspects of our lives.

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Winston is a member of MIG, a planning, design, communications and management services firm with offices in many cities across the United States. With two decades of architectural expertise, Winston is currently the principal director of MIG’s Colorado office.

Harboring a special interest in the design and function of urban spaces, Winston has designed plazas, malls and streetscapes, along with developing design guidelines for public spaces and entire communities. He has taught at the University of Colorado, is a registered landscape architect in Colorado, Utah and Arizona, and holds masters degrees in Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Mission-driven Operations

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the sixth in a series of updates in which we concentrate on segments of Eagle Rock School’s strategic plan, known as Vision 2020. Entitled “Mission-driven Operations,” this sixth of the plan’s seven domains that we’re reporting on today explores efforts to attend to our physical location — the Eagle Rock Campus — in Estes Park, Colo. This post, authored by head of school Jeff Liddle, describes the original conception and construction of our campus in the early 1990s, what has been improved to date, and future projects that are foreseen under our master plan. For an overview of the entire strategic plan, please see News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

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Strategic Plan Update: Mission-driven Operations

By Jeff Liddle, head of School

Environmental psychologists describe sense of place as the specific experience of a specific person in a specific environment. Feelings of joy while walking through a mountain community, or feelings of gratitude while watching students learn and play are two examples that come to mind. Along the same lines, a spirit of space is what gives some locales a particular feel or personality, like a childhood home or a favorite backcountry campsite.

With the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, the American Honda Co. had a vision of an expansive campus situated in a mountainside setting, centered around a lodge, where meals are shared, classes are taught, and a highly specific mission is pursued in a thriving atmosphere where up to 100 students and 30 staff members reside.

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Once our 640-acre campus was acquired, the master plan called for an accessible, site-integrated, walkable, environmentally friendly community. This was accomplished by developing a minimum of physical structures, thus maximizing the pristine setting. It meant installing passive solar systems, photovoltaics and high insulation. Material selection was based on 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…

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…

Strategic Plan Update: National Contribution

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the fourth in a series of updates about Eagle Rock’s strategic plan — Vision 2020. Below, Michael Soguero, our director of professional development, provides the Eagle Rock community with an update on our efforts related to the plan’s fifth domain: National Contribution. If you’re interested in learning about the overall aim of the plan, please see News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

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When it comes to Eagle Rock’s strategic plan, that part of the document that falls under the National Contribution section, speaks to our nation’s high schools as high-functioning centers of engagement and learning, and our own role in helping make that vision a reality. As a result, we’re continuing to articulate our notion of national impact and to refine our approach in support of that outcome.

While exploring this concept, we have found many nonprofits make one of two mistakes while attempting to do good works:

  1. They either focus on performing a number of activities — counting the activities themselves as a success; or
  2. They assess satisfaction with the activity as a measure of success.

Problems arise when schools put on workshops, send their personnel to speak at conferences or hold events — all of which are well received — but with little sense as to whether there is an impact on the community issue they were addressing. The other mistake goes in the opposite direction. The organization will put a stake in the ground around some large social condition such as teen crime, poverty or the environment, not realizing how little impact one isolated group can have on solving such complex issues.

What you end up with are organizations that are either declaring victory with small programmatic events, or excessively touting influence with a social condition that actually requires many allies contributing to the issues just to move the needle.

Eagle Rock is charged with having a positive impact on high school engagement nationally. Our strategy includes Continue reading…