The Eagle Rock Family Wishes Everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving-Eagle-Rock-SchoolBecause we’re a residential high school with students who come here to Estes Park, Colo., from all corners of the country, it’s not possible for all of them to return home for the short Thanksgiving holiday.

Sounds sad, doesn’t it? Kind of like when the Ghost of Christmas Past showed Ebenezer Scrooge all alone with his books at his old boarding school while his schoolmates returned to their homes for the holidays.

Good book, but bad PR for boarding schools.

Which brings us back to our original point: Fact of the matter is, there’s probably a few students heading home for the holidays who wish they were staying on campus. That’s because we’ve got two days chock full of activities for our Eagle Rock family that will have our students up to their ears in activities —— all highlighted by a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Check out this schedule for Thanksgiving Day here at Eagle Rock: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Applications Are Due In Less Than 10 Days

Eagle-Rock-School-AdmissionsFor anyone considering attending Eagle Rock School, you should know that the number of days that remain to apply for spot in our May 2015 trimester is now down to the single digits. To be specific, Nov. 30 is the final day to get the paperwork in.

You should also know that gaining admission to the myriad classes, programs and life experiences offered students within the Eagle Rock community isn’t at all about filling out a checklist of the requirements necessary for entry. Fact is, if you or a teen you know is seriously considering applying to become a part of our campus life, our primary “requirement” is proof of a potential student’s willingness to jump in with both feet.

It’s not a matter of “What do I need to do to get in here?” The more important question is, “Are you happy with the direction your life is taking?” and more to the point, “What are you willing to do about it?”

Willingness is the key. We’re looking for students between 15 and 18 years of age who are willing to make the most of their high school experience — not just hang around for a diploma. Our applicants must display a willingness to actively pursue intellectual and personal growth, and must also be willing to persevere when faced with difficult personal and emotional challenges.

A secondary criterion is a willingness to attain personal achievement outside the classroom in a range of pursuits, including community service, creative and performing arts, athletics, working with educators through our Professional Development Center, and other extra-curricular areas.

If you’ve done any research on us at all, you know that Eagle Rock is not your average run-of-the-mill high school. A tip-off might be our location high in the Colorado mountains, adjacent to national forests, lakes, rivers and hiking trails.

But the biggest difference between us and say, Pocahontas Public High School in Peoria, Illinois, is that our unique setting enables students to participate in a unique method of learning that is pretty much stripped of traditional trappings. And while this can be very attractive to students who don’t fit a particular mold and wouldn’t consider marching to the sound of any drummer, there are some things you should know before applying:

  • First off, despite what appears on the surface to be a lax, laissez faire atmosphere, entertain no doubt that we are a high school — not a therapy or treatment program. We place great value of academic rigor and personal growth and character.
  • By the same token, we’re not a college prep school. Instead, we are a ‘prep for life’ school. We want our graduates to Continue reading…

We’re in the Market for a Great Guidance Counselor

Most educational institutions set aside time for graduating seniors to meet with a counselor to discuss their future ambitions, and most of these advisers do a good job of pointing grads toward a suitable college that they can afford or a promising vocation based on their interests.

But here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, we go a little overboard when it comes to assisting in the future planning of our students.

DSC_2710_BThat’s because most of our students initially found success elusive at their previous school, and we’re bound and determined to make that a non-issue in their future lives. We care about each other’s success, our student’s experience, and we work hard to constantly innovate.

Which is exactly why we’re advertising for a new guidance counselor to assist our students in planning for their futures. We don’t even call these folks “guidance counselors.” In fact, the job title reads, “Life After Eagle Rock Instructional Specialist,” or LAER IS, if you’re into awkward acronyms.

Truth be told, a position at Eagle Rock isn’t for everyone. We add new meaning to the term non-traditional, and our “classroom setting” extends way past the final bell and into the evenings and weekends. So if you’re looking for a job rather than a lifestyle, fill out an application at a school where they follow a strict set of standard curriculum documents and hours of operation.

But if you believe in an educational process that supports diverse high school students in reengaging in their own education and finding and nurturing their gifts, or you like the notion of empowering students to explore and examine their options for life after high school in a deep and critical way, then we just might be your huckleberry.

Riddle us this: Do you believe that youth can benefit from coaching and preparation during high school that can make them even more successful after they graduate? Does a boarding school that bases its disciplinary approach on relationships and respect resonate with you?

What it all comes down to is an applicant with boundless energy, an inherent trust in the ability of students, a passion for the array of options that exist for youth, a deep desire to work on both school wide initiatives and with individual students, and you have ambitions to impact secondary education nationally.

If you’ve got it, we want to hear from you.

As the successful applicant for the Life After Eagle Rock instructional specialist (LAER IS) position, you would serve as part of Continue reading…

We’re Hiring — Director of Public Allies

We’re losing Mark Palmer, our outstanding director of Public Allies at the end of this year, which places us in the position of seeking a new leader and administrator to fill Mark’s incredibly large shoes.

public-allies-imageAs director of our successful Teacher Fellowship Program, Palmer’s successor will oversee a dozen individuals, providing them with a year’s worth of service and leadership development at our residential high school that specializes in reengaging and educating students who haven’t been all that successful in a traditional school setting. These 12 fellows will become members of a new generation of leaders in education reform.

The director is tasked with recruiting a diverse cohort of emerging educational reformers, then designing and delivering their yearlong professional development, supporting these fellows through their many intersecting roles at Eagle Rock School and its Professional Development Center.

But before we delve further into the details of the job, it’s probably best to list the qualifications required.

  • A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in education is highly preferred.
  • The applicant should also have garnered some experience with recruiting a diverse group of young adults for service positions, working with public high school reform, and working with adolescents.
  • Strong organization, staff management and leadership skills are also required, as well as an ability to facilitate adult leaders through yearlong development.

Moving on to the responsibilities side of the equation, the new director will manage the Continue reading…

Heeding Heartivism at the Rock

Heartivism. Were you of a mind to break it down, the term is the combination of three words:

  • Heart
  • Art
  • Activism

And within the Societies and Culture class here at Eagle Rock, our strategy for having students develop as individuals through learning skills for activism is to offer a course that uses historical context as a catalyst for exactly that. Each of these words — heart, art, and activism — is important in developing a new way of thinking about (and teaching) history as students grapple with creative processes and participate in the making of history itself.

The philosophical foundation of the class is rooted in the work of Paulo Reglus Neves Freire, Ph.D., and John Dewey, FAA. From Freire, we apply the notion that our students are not “empty vessels” waiting to be filled with knowledge. Instead, they come into the classroom with opinions, intuitions and values that drive their behavior, choices and thoughts.

Dewey talks about two concepts that are relevant: teaching the “life of downtown” — or in this case, moving from the textbook to what is happening in the news and the world — and the idea of co-constructing knowledge through experience, which is building on prior knowledge to create new forms of knowing.

We aim to apply these pedagogical stances to inform what we actually do in the course, which is to infuse historical examples as a means to talk about student agency (i.e., empowering students through curriculum approaches that engage them, are respectful of and seek their opinions, give them opportunities to feel connected to school life, promote positive and caring relationships between all members of the school community, promote wellbeing and focus on the whole student, relate to real-life experiences, are safe and supportive — Source: Value Centered School… a guide on Student Agency [PDF]).

It’s never about just teaching facts, but creating a Continue reading…

Meet The Team — Eagle Rock’s Director of Public Allies, Mark Palmer

Eagle Rock’s Director of Public Allies, Mark Palmer.

For the time being and at least until the new year, Mark Palmer remains our director of Public Allies, a position that at the end of this trimester, he will have held for the past seven years.

Mark’s currently in the process of applying for the Digital Animation and Visual Effects (DAVE) School in Orlando, Fla., and he hopes to hear from that institution early next year.

Meanwhile, he is actively helping our director of professional development, Michael Soguero, and the Public Allies folks search for a new director to replace him. And while we’re all sorry to see his eventual departure from Eagle Rock, that doesn’t cut him any slack when it comes to highlighting him in one of our not-so-infrequent Meet the Team blog posts:

So let’s hear more from our departing director:

Eagle Rock: What is it exactly that you do you do here at Eagle Rock?

Mark: As Eagle Rock’s director of Public Allies, I oversee the hiring, training and experience of the dozen Public Allies Teaching Fellows we bring onboard annually.

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

Mark: I’ve been doing youth work for 16 years with organizations like The United States Peace Corps, The University of Minnesota, Echo Hill Outdoor School and the YMCA.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Mark: Getting a chance to be around a Continue reading…

Meet The Teachers Who Made An Impact On Eagle Rock’s Teachers

Eagle_Rock_Blog_ShieldsAlmost without exception, everyone who has ever stepped foot inside a school classroom — and that’s pretty much all of us — can name at least one teacher who became a positive force in their lives.

It could have been an instructor who inspired them to pursue a seemingly impossible career, or maybe helped them discover hidden talents they didn’t know they possessed. Someone who impressed them enough to tweak their thought process and introduce them to new way of acting or thinking, or who went above and beyond in encouraging and informing their interest in a particular topic or path.

A good example of this would certainly not be the relationship between Ralphie and Miss Shields in the 1983 holiday movie classic, A Christmas Story. In that cult film, Ralphie’s goal wasn’t to absorb knowledge or gain insight into a career.

Nope. Ralphie’s sole intent in giving his teacher a fruit basket was to receive an “A” on his paper espousing the wonderfulness of the coveted Red Ryder BB rifle. Instead, he receives a “C+” stamped across the top of the paper, along with the admonition that “you’ll shoot your eye out.”

And while that teacher-student experience most certainly affected the rest of his life, inspirational is not a good term to describe it.

However, most of us do recall a teacher who made a difference, so we’ve asked a few of our own instructors and staff here at Eagle Rock to think back to a time when an educator had an impact on their lives.

Here’s are some of the responses we received:

Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Music Instructor

At Greeley Central High School in Greeley, Colorado, my senior year choir director, Jeremy Francisco was brand new to the school and helped inspire and cultivate my decision to become a music educator. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until Francisco gave me a lot of responsibilities within the choir and pushed me to try new styles of music. I’ll always be grateful for the experiences he gave me.

Dan Hoffman, Literature & Literacy Instructor

At the Lab School in Chicago, Illinois, Chris Randle, my academic tutor, read poetry with me in between bouts of Continue reading…