Meet The Team: Michael Soguero, Director of Professional Development

Michael_Cyn_SogueroMichael Soguero has been the director of professional development here at Eagle Rock since the summer of 2006, working with schools and organizations around the country to increase high school engagement. While here, he inherited and then renovated an alternative licensure program under the auspices of the Colorado Department of Education, creating the current curriculum for all licensure candidates who come through our doors. Michael also delivers most of the seminars for candidates to earn their Colorado teaching licenses. He serves as a member of the residential community here at Eagle Rock and was the founding houseparent of our Pinon house two decades ago, and of course he directs our professional development team as it facilitates the efforts of educational organizations interested in re-engaging youth in their own education

If that isn’t enough, this talented educational leader has even more to share, including insight into a previous stint on our campus, which ultimately helped us set the stage for where we are as an organization today.

But don’t take our word for it… meet Michael Soguero:

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

Michael: Actually, I’ve worked at Eagle Rock twice. Between March 1993 and August 1997, I was one of the founding members of Eagle Rock’s development team and contributed to the design of our curriculum. In addition, I was a math and science instructional specialist and houseparent.

After I left Eagle Rock I worked for nine years in New York City’s public education system. There, I was a math and science teacher at School for the Physical City High School before becoming the co-director of that school. That was an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School (now rebranded as Expeditionary Learning Schools). I then became the founder and principal of a New Century High School initiative in the Bronx called the Bronx Guild

While in New York City, I became a lead facilitator for a Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model program (SAM)) in the New York City Leadership Academy training aspiring principals. Before that, I did my first stint here at Eagle Rock, which was preceded by my time spent as a doctoral candidate at Penn State University for molecular and cell biology. I also worked for NASA Space Grant College bringing science-based presentations into local middle schools.

Prior to that I graduated from City College of New York with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and prior to that I enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving from 1982 until 1986.

I returned to Eagle Rock in July 2006.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock in the first place? 

Michael: I am passionate about the mission of reengaging high school students in their education. I believe it’s a critical time period in any person’s life – full of energy and possibility and too often neglected by society. We hole up these kids in classrooms, infantilize them and treat them like deficiencies. I’m committed to transforming that experience for youth. They should be seen as assets, exercising their energy and possibilities, all under the guidance of apprenticing themselves to adults who share this commitment.

Eagle Rock is not only committed to all the above. It’s a place free of irrelevant government and district demands that get in the way of fulfilling on the vision. We have the running room to do what’s right and innovate to do what’s best for kids.

Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time? 

Michael: Honestly, I’m passionate about Continue reading…

Our Professional Development Center Reinforces Highline Big Picture’s Goals

Editor’s Note: Part of the mission of Burien, Wash.-based Highline Big Picture School is to use internships and interest-based projects to immerse students in work they are passionate about. That, the school believes, develops the skills, habits, and knowledge for students to ultimately succeed in higher education, overcome obstacles to their well-being, and contribute positively to their communities. Twice in the past three years, Highline’s building leadership team visited Eagle Rock to pick the brains of our Professional Development Center staff. And twice they have left our campus, armed with an even better vision of what it is that needs to be done — and how to get there.

By: Garth Reeves & Loren Demeroutis, co-principals of Highline Big Picture School

Highline Big Picture School is a part of the Big Picture Learning network — a consortium of more than 100 national and international schools that encourage student success by putting them in contact with the rigorous learning opportunities of real-world contexts, built around real-world issues.

Taking an ethos of “learning by doing,” these schools co-construct personalized educational plans, one student at a time, measuring success by the demonstration of competency and growth as assessed through portfolio and public exhibitions.

At Highline Big Picture, our staff serves up an equity agenda that unfolds along at least two paths. One, we seek to serve and support students who have not been well served — or served at all — by traditional schools. And in order to do that, we focus on the development of meta-cognitive skills and dispositions and model restorative practices focused on developing student well-being and efficacy.

Second, we seek to influence how people view and think about school design, pushing an agenda focused on the issues of student disengagement with, and disenfranchisement from, “school.” There is a deeper than ever disconnect for students and the adults who work with them who feel school as defined in a last century context doesn’t fit them, doesn’t know them, and won’t consider their expectations or goals.

We have been fortunate to be frequent collaborators in this work with the Eagle Rock School Professional Development Center, both as an individual school and a network since 2008. In 2010, we took our building leadership team to Eagle Rock, ostensibly to conduct an inquiry process into our assessment practices. Working with the PDC staff, and in particular Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Co-hosts Project-based Learning Work Day in North Carolina

Editor’s Note: We recently asked Dan Hoffman, curriculum specialist at Voyager Academy High School in Durham, N.C., to catch us up on his organization’s experience with our own Professional Development Center. Below is what he has to say about that collaboration.

By Dan Hoffman, curriculum specialist at Voyager Academy High School

All too often, professional development for teachers involves sitting in a room and listening to a lecture from a disconnected researcher on how we can better our practice. Teachers often believe these “sit and get” experiences are a waste of time. They certainly don’t advance our understanding of the core dilemmas we face on a daily basis in the classroom.

Additionally, new concepts and teaching tools are presented as abstract ideas with which we as teachers must grapple on our own when faced with the ground-level realities of the classroom. As a teacher and curriculum specialist at Voyager Academy High School, I work with the teaching staff and administration to form higher-quality professional development experience for our educators.

At Voyager, we think of our teachers as researchers and that by bringing together our educators in the spirit of critical friendship we can learn and support each other to improve our instruction. Our collaborative form of professional development is rooted in our commitment to a high-quality project-based learning curriculum. This summer we wanted to share both our professional development model and our belief in project-based learning with other educators throughout the state.

In July, we held our first project-based learning workday, which we co-hosted with Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center. Dan Condon, Eagle Rock’s associate director of professional development, came to Durham to help us design and execute the workday. This was not our first partnership with Eagle Rock. In fact, the summer workday was a culmination of collaborative efforts from throughout the previous school year. Dan arrived at Voyager the previous fall with Michael Saguaro, Eagle Rock’s director of professional development, to help us assess our efforts at becoming a project-based learning high school and to develop collaborative professional development systems.

Our work with Eagle Rock has always been a partnership and our staff appreciates never being dictated to or told what we need to do to change our practice. In fact, our partnership with Eagle Rock felt much more like our teacher Critical Friends Group where we shared ideas, information, and collaborated as partners to improve our school.

And as a relatively new charter — we’ll have our first full graduating class next spring — it was useful to partner with an institution that has already grappled and succeeded with many of the issues we were facing as a young organization ourselves.

Our partnership with Eagle Rock created a unique opportunity to share our collaborative efforts with other schools and educators in North Carolina through a summer professional development workday focused on teacher collaboration around project-based learning. We invited other educators from around the state to visit Voyager, learn about the principles of project-based learning (PBL) and work collaboratively to form the next steps needed to create projects for our own classrooms. Teachers heard from students about their perspective on PBL, and left the workday with the concrete steps necessary to develop their curriculum — and as a special bonus, acquired an expanded network of professionals working on similar dilemmas and opportunities.

At Voyager, we’re already planning our next professional development workday. We are also planning ways to continue to partner with Eagle Rock. As Voyager strives to become a leader in developing a project-based learning curriculum, we understand the value of having a partner like the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center.

News From The Rock

ER_The_RockEditor’s Note: One of the reasons we’ve chosen to publish a blog is because like many organizations nowadays, we’ve come to the realization that with a blog, we have access to a digital press of our own… one that’s capable of helping us share Eagle Rock’s news in a timely and dynamic format. And you may have noticed, our blog recently underwent a major facelift.

With that in mind, we’re pleased to introduce a new type of blog post and one that we hope you’ll come to enjoy and look forward to reading every month-and-a-half or thereabouts. Here, in our ‘News From The Rock posts, we intend to share some of what’s going on behind the scenes at Eagle Rock, both in our award-winning residential high school and our professional development center. Driven by our head of school, Jeff Liddle, these ‘From The Rock’ posts will replace many of the mass email messages we’d been infrequently sending to parents and other Eagle Rock stakeholders. (Note: If Email’s more your style, you can enter your email address in the ‘Get Blog Posts by Email’ box at the top of the right hand column, and we’ll send you an email message each time we update the blog!)

So now that you’ve arrived at “The Rock,” here’s what’s been happening lately:

Around campus…

To get us started, we’re happy to report that the Eagle Rock board of directors recently approved — and a dedicated group of Eagle Rock School alumni will soon launch — our own Alumni Association. For details, read our recent blog post Orbiting The Rock: The Eagle Rock Alumni Association Takes Flight, and stay tuned for more information on this exciting development.

Next up, we recently graduated eight more Eagle Rock students, comprising ER-60 (Eagle Rock’s 60th group of graduates since our first group in April 1995). Congrats to these new grads, including:

  • Axaria Campbell
  • Blayke Curtis
  • Jonathon Deras
  • Valentin Deras
  • Derek Gaines
  • Marwan Johnstone
  • Nyeema Lee
  • Valentina Ramirez

Farewell to this year’s Eagle Rock Public Allies Teaching Fellows – they did a fantastic job and we wish them the best as they spread their wings and carry what they experienced and learned at Eagle Rock into their next endeavors:

  • Eliza Wicks Arshack – Outdoor Education
  • Laura Baumgardner – Health & Wellness
  • Clay Chiles – Human Performance
  • John Finefrock – Societies & Cultures
  • Rebecca Garrison – Literacy & Literature
  • Catherine Graham – Visual Arts
  • Jeff Holoubek – Service Learning
  • Athena Jin – Math
  • Jaimie LaPine – Music
  • Laura Nolan – Life After Eagle Rock
  • Colin Packard – Professional Development Center
  • Brighid Scanlon – World Languages

After two full decades, the pool side of the Human Performance Center roof here on property is being replaced.

We recently installed photovoltaic solar panels to reduce our dependence on electricity from the grid, and the School’s solar panel class spent five weeks studying that technology.

Around the country…

  • Eagle Rock students Steven “Ray Cat” Legér and Song Candea have been away in Boston studying on a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program, now in its 27th year. Better known as “Five-Week,” the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program, with its diversity of study options, world-class Berklee faculty, visiting artists, and state-of-the-art facilities, is the premiere contemporary music summer program for young musicians. Each summer, approximately 1,000 participants from across the U.S. and around the world (70 countries) share in this unique summer experience.
  • Eagle Rock student Franco Casas just wrapped up a rafting, backpacking and climbing trip in Utah as part of an Continue reading…