Understanding Eagle Rock’s Work With Noble Impact

Since spring of 2013, staff members from our Professional Development Center have been working closely with the folks at Noble Impact in Little Rock, Ark., to help that organization develop its inaugural INSTITUTE program, which was held last summer in Arkansas. For the uninitiated, Noble Impact is a nonprofit committed to engaging kindergarten through 12th graders as they traverse the intersection of public service and entrepreneurship.

Noble-Institute-2Chad Williamson, the co-founder of Noble Impact, visited us here at Eagle Rock years ago and was impressed enough to come back last year to see if we could help his team by collaborating on the creation of curriculum for the first INSTITUTE program.

The INSTITUTE of Noble Impact is more than an all-caps nine-letter non-abbreviated acronym. It’s also a noble concept — and the first of its kind summer program with a single goal in mind. That purpose is to commit students to enact social change.

Now here’s where it gets weird. The idea is for these students to perform a noble public service while practicing entrepreneurship. Can anyone say oxymoron? Is this a conflict in philosophies? Helping others while helping yourself? How do these seemingly opposing philosophies meld into a single action with a combined purpose?

The INSTITUTE — working in concert with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service — skillfully addresses the dialectic between public service and entrepreneurship. The challenge for students is to find practical approaches to “making a difference” in their community.

The weeklong summer program challenges INSTITUTE students to think about community issues, ideas for solutions — ultimately creating sustainable impact.

For our part, Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center staff helped Noble think through its Continue reading…

Latest Eagle Rock Grads Reflect on Education and Setting New Goals

Our eight most recent Eagle Rock School graduates took the opportunity to briefly reflect on their time here. Reading their comments, we were drawn to the similarities expressed by these new grads, each of whom will receive their high school diplomas on Friday afternoon, August 8, at a ceremony here in Estes Park, Colorado.

Where negativity is a normal theme of new students to our wilderness campus, it’s refreshing to hear comments about the good things the future holds for these graduates. And we think a lot of that comes from time spent looking for the similarities in your peers instead of the differences.

We’re not always sure why the curriculum at Eagle Rock seems to be so successful. We’d like to credit the administration, the instructors, the staff, the programs. But sometimes it just comes down to a couple of classmates sitting down on a boulder and discussing an issue that’s important to one of them.

So sit yourself down and listen as our new graduates — Nikolay Hayden, Marjorie Furio, Lesly DeLeon, Jeremy Coles, Nicole Bau, Tiffany Wright, Jessy Mejia and Jaliza Perez — relate their Eagle Rock experiences:

Eagle Rock School’s latest graduates.

Nikolay Hayden

Nikolay “Nick” Hayden grew up in Ukraine. When he was adopted at age 11, he relocated to Colorado where he was confronted with a pair of stumbling blocks — a new language and a different culture.

He lived in Colorado Springs with his mom, dad, two brothers, and a sister before enrolling at Eagle Rock. He came to us for a new experience — attending a traditional high school.

“I was crazy because I was young,” Nick said. “I was active all the time. That’s how people saw me.”

In his time at Eagle Rock, Nick said he’s become better at accepting people for who they are by co-existing with others within a small community. He said has also learned a lot from the structure here, which encourages him to be on time and to be organized. For those tools, he credits his house sister, Sandra.

“She helped me a lot in Juniper House,” he explained. “She helped me stay on track. She was really motivated, and I found myself following her because she helped me.”

After graduating, Nick plans to go home to work in lifeguarding or construction with the eventual goal of joining the U.S. Navy.

Marjorie Furio

Marjorie “Star” Furio struggled with the extroverted nature of Eagle Rock from the get-go. Growing up with her mom in Prescott and the Grand Canyon area of Arizona, Star lost her scholarship after receiving failing grades at another boarding school. When she arrived in Estes Park, she was surprised by the difficulty of living so closely with such a diverse group of people.

“I expected it to be cozy, and I had to adjust to conflict and feeling uncomfortable at times,” Star admitted.

She cites Human Sexuality as one of her favorite courses for being “really honest.” And she credits her instructors — Jen Frickey and Beth Ellis — for making her Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s Science Instructor and House Parent – Janet Johnson

Janet-Johnson-Eagle-Rock-SchoolWe’re of the opinion that, if you’re going to blog, we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the various members of the team here at Eagle Rock. Today, for example, we’re interviewing Janet Johnson, who speaks fluent chemistry, earth science and biology.

Here’s her story:

Eagle Rock: Who are you and what do you to do here at Eagle Rock?

Janet: Right now I am a science instructor, which means I get to facilitate all kinds of cool project-based and experiential classes — with lessons like For the Birds and The Science of Cooking. I am also one of the house parents in Aspen House. Next year I have the opportunity to help support Eagle Rock’s new instructors as they transition into the community.

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

Janet: As an undergraduate student, I studied biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. I eventually earned a master’s in science curriculum and instruction from The University of Colorado-Boulder as I was starting my work at Eagle Rock.

In between those two experiences I held various other positions including bank teller, landscaper, restaurant hostess and salesperson at a clothing store. By far the sweetest job was working at a chocolate shop. Mostly I made malts for Midwestern tourists, but every now and again I would get to tend the chocolate or make coconut haystacks. Those were great days.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Janet: I first learned about Eagle Rock while I was teaching at the Chinquapin School in Highlands, Texas. Chinquapin is a college prep school for underserved students from the Houston area. Chinquapin was similar to Eagle Rock in its commitment to community, and very different in its Continue reading…

Community Readiness: A Visiting Teacher’s Education at Eagle Rock

I arrived at Eagle Rock under a self-induced misconception. I had proposed a weeklong residency with the Professional Development Center to learn how their small school in Estes Park, Colorado, took students from around the country and re-engaged them in their own education.

Coming from New York City where I work at at the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, I was anticipating spending a week in the retreat-like atmosphere, observing how staff supported students in developing habits of individual responsibility and self-regulation. I was looking forward to learning how this unique school cultivated student ownership of individual learning plans in each one of its students.

The first incongruity confronted me at the daily community gathering, where a student named Raji facilitated a communal discussion of his strengths and areas for growth. As I saw other students challenge the young man to own both his strengths and his weaknesses, I had my first inkling that responsibility can’t only be an individual pursuit. Other teens challenged Raji to “walk the walk” after commending him on his growth since joining the community.

Later, “Announcements” opened the floor for all members of the community to share information. These ranged from relating information about upcoming organizational meetings to suggestions that students clean up after themselves or respect each other’s space. But there were no deans, teachers or staff members making these announcements; it was fellow students. No issue was seen as too small with students embracing an active role in the accountability to the norms of the community.

It was then that I began to understand that personal responsibility can’t be the only goal (or, I would argue, the primary goal) that I was considering when looking into how to get students to own their education. In the back of my mind as I was investigating re-engaging students, I discovered ideas such as Continue reading…