News From The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center

PDC_Update_Sep:OctWe’re fresh into a new school year here at Eagle Rock and our Professional Development Center (PDC) has so many projects, plans and proposals in the works that we found it necessary to create a new position of PDC associate.

This new hiring signals our intent to increase the center’s national outreach and impact, contributing to — and accelerating — school improvement through strength-based approaches that support the organizations with which we partner and assist.

In fact, even as we write this, we’re interviewing candidates for the PDC position with hopes of having that new assistant ready to jump into a pile of projects right out the gate.

Below is a listing of our Professional Development Center’s activities scheduled from now through the Thanksgiving holidays. To inquire about working with the PDC, call Dan Condon at (970) 586-0600.

Sept. 24

  • Launching our Student-centered Coaching Initiative with Eagle Rock School, which is part of our annual professional development focus on student learning.
  • Hosting monthly directors phone call for the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) centers nationally who are planning for the CES Fall Forum. At that conference, which runs Nov 8 and 9, we are presenting with other centers on implementing the Common Core, while staying true to the 10 common principles of CES. Eagle Rock is also responsible for convening CES center directors for their biannual meeting.

Sept. 24 – 25

Sept 26

  • Today, we’ll be facilitating further curriculum development and charter school application work with Noble Impact, an Arkansas-based organization that engages with scholars to pursue public service as entrepreneurs.

Oct. 4 5

  • We will be hosting and working with Colorado teachers who utilize the Facing History organization’s resources in their schools. If you’re unfamiliar with this Brookline, Mass.-based organization, it promotes the belief that education is the key to combating bigotry and nurturing democracy. Through a rigorous investigation of the events that led to the Holocaust – as well as other recent examples of genocide and mass violence – students in a Facing History class learn to combat prejudice with compassion, indifference with participation, and myth and misinformation with knowledge.

Oct. 8 – 10 

  • We will host and work with representatives from the Rochester (N.Y.) Teachers Association, with a focus on the ways that serious outdoor and wilderness activity, experiential learning and voluntary commitment to behavioral values might transfer to an urban setting where large numbers of students are disengaged in their own education.

Oct. 14 – 16

  • We’ll be working with three Big Picture Learning Schools in Detroit: Blanche Kelso Bruce Academies, East and West Campus, and Catherine Ferguson. These schools have adopted the Big Picture Learning model but have only a year under their belt with this approach. We are being engaged to coach staff on how to make sense of and work effectively within this model.

Oct. 15

  • We will be working with Health Leadership High School in Albuquerque to facilitate the development of their professional development systems. Specifically, we will introduce them to the use of protocols as a way to foster continuous improvement with their project-based learning approach.

Oct. 17–18

  • Here, we’ll be working with South Burlington High School in South Burlington, Vt., to facilitate integration of the Common Core State Standards in the school’s Math and English departments. We’re looking forward to seeing Jason Cushner, a former math instructional specialist here at Eagle Rock, who is now a Rowland Fellow charged with leading systemic change in schools. Jason is working on getting schools to adopt innovative professional learning systems across the state of Vermont.

Oct. 25

  • We will be working with The Kingsbury Center in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to learn how to better practice differentiation in the classroom to apply to Eagle Rock School.

Oct. 29

  • Monthly CES (Coalition of Essential Schools) Directors call.

Oct. 30 (and Dec. 3)

  • Facilitating the launch of Puget Sound Consortium Critical Friends Group. This is a multi-year project to establish a network of secondary schools as a regional learning lab to improve long-term educational outcomes for Puget Sound, Wash., highest-need families. The focus is on student engagement as the strongest lever for increasing long-term success indicators such as college persistence, access to and preparedness for careers of choice, and non-cognitive attributes related to wellness and self and social efficacy.

Nov. 6

  • Eagle Rock is co-hosting the Rowland Conference and, following the keynote address we will be taking half of the attendees and running a workshop called “Managing the Rapids.” In the afternoon, we will take on the other half of the conference’s attendees so that by the end of the day we will have worked with an estimated 600 people. Our approach in these workshops is to employ the mindset and tools of “less is more.” Attendees will experience a set of processes that will help them get a handle on the various initiatives launched in their school setting and help get them under control within a clear framework. They will learn to move from confusion to disciplined focus and greater confidence, leaving the experience with a clear structure, aligned initiatives and focused strategy.

Nov. 8 – 10

  • Our entire PDC team, as well as some of our School’s staff, will be attending and working at the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) Fall Forum. Two workshops are scheduled, including one in which our own Holly Takashima and Karen Ikegami discuss how notebooks can be used to evaluate growth and mastery in different disciplines. The second workshop features Ike Leslie presenting, “Queer!” “Privilege!” “Power!” – Strategies for Facilitating Real Conversations in School.” This workshop answers the question of how to create a safe space for students and staff to discuss how power and privilege affect their personal and learning experiences.

Nov 18-21

  • Big Picture Learning coaches will be at Eagle Rock and we will be facilitating their adoption of new strategies to add to their coaching toolkit. They are working on integrating material from their newly published book Leaving to Learn and deepening their use of design thinking processes in their work.

Nov. 20 – 22

  • We’ll be returning to Detroit for a second visit to work with Big Picture Schools.

 

Introducing Eagle Rock’s 2013-2014 Public Allies Fellows

Public-Allies-LogoToday we’re happy to introduce you to our latest crop of Public Allies Fellows, all of whom we are very proud to have on our campus and part of the Eagle Rock community. But before we introduce these young adult leaders, we’d like to tell you more about the amazing program that brought them to Eagle Rock in the first place.

Public Allies is an AmeriCorps-funded program that’s dedicated to developing leadership skills in young adults. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a national movement grounded in the conviction that everyone leads, and that everyone can work to inspire others to believe in themselves, step up and take action.

Officially, the mission of Public Allies is to advance new leadership in order to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation The Milwaukee, Wis.-headquartered nonprofit demonstrates a profound conviction to the long held notion that lasting social change results when citizens of all backgrounds take responsibility and work together.

Since it’s founding in 1992, about 5,000 Allies have completed the program with more than 80 percent of them continuing careers in the nonprofit and public sectors.

Eagle Rock’s participation with the program began a decade after the founding of Public Allies, and was initiated by our own Dan Condon and directed by him for two years. In the years that followed, 132 Public Allies have walked through the gate here at Eagle Rock with 98 percent of them graduating – making the Public Allies Eagle Rock program the most successful in the nation in terms of retention of Allies.

Each year we host 12 Public Allies Fellows, and as mentioned at the top of this post, we welcomed our latest group earlier this month, including (full bios appear below photo):

Eagle Rock's 2013/2014 Public Allies Fellows

Eagle Rock’s 2013/2014 Public Allies Fellows (click photo for large image).

  • Jake Sund, Literacy and Literature Fellow: Jake hails from Starkville Miss., and has a Bachelor’s Degree in English in Secondary Education from Mississippi State University. He has taught at Starkville High School and has outdoor experience with SUW of the Carolinas.
  • Sara Benge, Science Fellow: From Columbus, Ohio, Sara most recently taught at the Horizon Science Academy High School and recently returned from two years in the Peace Corps in Morocco. Sara has a Bachelor of Arts degree in exercise science from Willamette University in Salem, Ore.
  • Clay Elkin, Math Fellow: Clay, “Don’t Call Me Chiles or Cindy” Elkin has a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and leadership from the University of San Diego and has served with AmeriCorps as a VISTA Volunteer. Clay previously worked at High Tech High in San Diego.
  • Calvin King, Societies/Culture Fellow: This former Eagle Rock School student is a Bonner Scholar and graduate of Morehouse College where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in political science. Over the past few years Calvin has worked with the City of Atlanta Freedom Schools, as well as the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support.
  • Katie Funk, Visual Arts Fellow: From Grand Rapids, Mich., Katie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in art and design with an emphasis in fine arts and K-12 teaching from Kendall College of Art and Design. She has worked at Northview High School in Grand Rapids along with student taught within the Byron Centers Public School system.
  • Lindsey Rodkey, Human Performance Center Fellow: Originally from Ellicott City, Maryland, Lindsey has a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and human development from the University of Maryland. She has been operating swimming programs for several years and will soon be certified to certify lifeguards.
  • Jennifer Pearsall, Service Learning Fellow: Jennifer most recently served as the assistant director and AmeriCorps member of the Camp Fire Camp in Central Oklahoma. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and has done work with the YMCA of Three Rivers, Mich. Jennifer has extensive experience in working with and teaching public speaking and will bring that asset to our school and Service Learning Department.
  • Mary Reid Munford, Professional Development Center Fellow: Straight out of Louisiana, Mary has worked with the ExpandEd Day Cultural Arts Academy in New Orleans, along with doing some relief work in South Africa. Mary earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton.
  • Brian Rudd, Outdoor Education Fellow: Brian was a part of the HPOE Department before he joined the wilderness course in ER 59. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science from Brigham Young University and is originally from Pleasant Hill, Calif.
  • Rebecca Fenn, Life After Eagle Rock Fellow: This year’s LAER Fellow most recently worked as an admissions officer at the University of Chicago and will bring that experience to our students at Eagle Rock School. Rebecca has a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative human development from the University of Chicago.
  • Jesse Taitt, Music Fellow: Our music fellow is a Berklee College of Music graduate, receiving his degree in jazz composition and professional music. Jesse has also worked with the Berklee Mentoring Program along with the Alumni Creative Corps, which is sponsored by the Boston Arts Academy.
  • LuLing Osofsky, Curriculum Fellow: LuLing received her master’s degree in fine art from the University of Wyoming. She has worked for Green Seas Humanitarian Expeditions, The Art Institute of Indonesia and the Wu Wei Si Monastery in China. LuLing speaks several languages and is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Bahasa Indonesian.

So there you have it. Over the years, we’ve seen many of our Public Allies Fellows from Eagle Rock impact public secondary education after they leave us. Some of these include Stanley Richards who is an instructional coach for New Tech in the Bay Area, Calif.; Dan Hoffman, a teacher and curriculum specialist at Voyager Academy in Durham, N.C.; Sarah Glasband, an advisor with MetWest in Oakland, Calif.; Michael Dunn, currently an upper school history instructor and service learning coordinator at the AIM Academy in Philadelphia, Pa..

Also, Liz Berliant, who is a music teacher at KIPP Bridge Charter School in the Oakland, Calif.; Adrienne Kovacik, who teaches chemistry at Mission Early College High School in Durham, N.C.; and Emily Matuzek, director of learning and development at Teach For America.

Goodwill Industries of Denver Lauds its Work With Eagle Rock

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes to us from Kelsey Glass, a post-secondary success facilitator at Goodwill Industries of Denver and a former Public Allies Fellow here at Eagle Rock.

Mention Goodwill Industries and most people think of the retail stores where you can purchase clothing, furniture, housewares, and other goods for bargain-basement prices.

And that’s an accurate portrayal. But what most people don’t realize is that Goodwill Industries of Denver uses the profits from its retail stores to fund multiple workforce development programs that impact more than 20,000 young people, adults, and differently abled people annually.

Goodwill Industries of Denver’s Youth Career Development Service (YCDS) tackles metro Denver, Colorado’s school dropout rate — among the highest in the nation — head on. We employ teachers who equip students with both job and life skills, introduce them to career options, help them prepare for post-secondary education, and connect them with mentors in the community.

With 40 teachers in 33 high-need middle and high schools in Denver Metro and Northern Colorado, the Youth Career Development Program makes a huge impact on our community. It serves 18,000 youngsters through classroom instruction, case management, group mentoring, mock interviews, job and life-skills coaching, career fairs, campus visits, guest speakers, and internship development.

Goodwill’s teachers facilitate a robust post-secondary and workforce-readiness curriculum through daily instruction in Grades 6 through 12. Our programs have increased the likelihood of graduation and improved the potential for career success over the past 17 years. Despite this success, we are committed to continuous organizational improvement to provide the highest-quality instruction to our students.

As part of that effort, we began to search for a new curriculum structure back in 2011 that would encourage depth of understanding for students, create a common language for staff, be a tool for more intentional planning, and encompassed educational best practices.

As a former Public Allies Fellow at Eagle Rock, I knew Continue reading…

Reflections on the Past Academic Year — A River Runs Through It

Imagine peering over the edge of a cliff and staring down on millions of gallons of raging water the color of chocolate milk and knowing you’re going to be in the midst of that turmoil in just a few moments. Thirty years of white water paddling experience suddenly feels inconsequential.

Lava Falls is the largest rapid on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Sure, there are a couple safe routes, but finding them is certainly not easy. It demands a team effort and even then there are no guarantees. Even though you might pick what appears to be a solid route from shore, there’s much to be done once you enter the chaos.

A few years back — in 2009 — I found myself in just such a spot. Many questions ran through my head. Will the route I choose work? Will I have the skills to adjust to changing circumstances? Will I have the presence of mind to stay calm when a misplaced oar stroke could flip my raft — or worse?  Is risking my life a good idea?

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I remember looking at my 18-year old son Max sitting at the front of my raft. What would I say to his mom if things went wrong? I can’t explain the attraction to living life on the edge, but I know I’m drawn to that activity like a moth to flame. It’s a life where the course is unclear, where a lifetime of experience is called into question, where I must rely on others for safe passage. It’s a life where the spoils of defeat are not inconsequential, and where the victories are addicting. I always want more.

On Sept. 3, 2012 — the day I stepped into the role of Eagle Rock’s head of school — I remember experiencing the same feelings I did back at Lava Falls three years before. Truth is, just as I can’t run a river by myself, I require plenty of expert help to run a complex and meaningful organization like Eagle Rock.

Reflecting back on this past year, the biggest lesson I think I’ve learned is the vital importance of teamwork. I’ve worked here for 13 years and I understand the “path of the river” well. But it’s one thing to stand on the shore and talk about the right path, and quite another to be “at the oars” in the current.

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I have a great executive team in the form of Philbert Smith, Michael Soguero, Susan Luna, and Jen Frickey, as well as an amazingly dedicated and talented staff that keep this ship afloat and  on course. Our aspiration this past academic year was to “become more responsive to student needs, both locally and nationally.” We charted our course for the year by creating four overarching objectives to focus our work, which I shared in an earlier blog post, and in a moment I’ll share the results of that work.

But first, I want to acknowledge that we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount of work on campus and around the country that has been covered in previous posts and isn’t captured in our focused objectives. In addition to doing the “work” of Eagle Rock, we’ve also experienced the passing of two very dear on-campus members of the Eagle Rock community — Mary Strate and Rick Gaukel — and one graduate, Casey Whirl. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Mary, Rick, and Casey’s families. You will always be remembered.

I won’t drag you through volumes of reflections from my year, but I do want to report out on how we’ve done with our four big objectives. Here’s a quick look at the highlights:

Objective No. 1: The Professional Development Center (PDC) /School relationship at Eagle Rock is inextricably interdependent.

  • Students are traveling with PDC staff externally and being used more intently on campus. In addition our staff has become more involved on campus and around the country, either traveling to work with networks of schools around the country or working much more intensively with schools visiting our campus. We’re connecting visiting educators in much more intentional ways to the experience of visiting Eagle Rock and we’re sharing more of our experience nationally.
  • Our two key PDC staffers, Michael Soguero and Dan Condon, have worked tirelessly this year to increase our professional development reach and have nearly maxed out their ability to work with other networks of schools. This capacity limitation was recognized by our board of directors and resulted in additional resources to add a new PDC position and some early brainstorming to increase our virtual support to schools via increasing Internet resources.
  • Our primary strategy — or “hedgehog” as Michael fondly calls it — is helping other progressive schools get better within their own context instead of exporting practices. This year we’ve found a hybrid where we integrate the goals of the organization with the knowledge and expertise we’ve gleaned from our own school experience. For example, if a school wants to implement proficiency-based graduation requirements, improve their internship program, or design curriculum to support teaching for understanding, we not only do an asset-based assessment in their context and help them carve out an agenda based on their desires, we also bring expertise in those particular areas of reform to the table. As a result, we’re able to listen attentively to specific needs of the networks in which we work, facilitate change process for them AND bring our own expertise from working on similar initiatives in our own school. We believe professional development should be forged in real schools with real students and this year we’ve made some good progress connecting the efforts of our school with the PDC and visa versa.