For Just a Short While, There Was a Poet Among Us

Edgar-Kunz-Poet-Eagle-Rock-School-VisitOakland, Calif., poet Edgar Kunz has been a familiar face around the Eagle Rock campus the past few months, sparking interest in poetry in the form of readings, presentations and visits to poetry slams.

Kunz is one of 5 first-year Wallace Stegner Fellows in Poetry at Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program. His poetry can be found in New England Review, AGNI Literary Magazine, The Missouri Review, Narrative Magazine, and the annual Best New Poets anthology series, among other places. Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Academy of American Poets, and Vanderbilt University — where Kunz earned his Masters degree in Fine Arts — have all supported his writing over the years.

During his visits here, readings were held for Eagle Rock School students and staff, with the poet reciting selections of his poems that have been published in various literary journals. In a Q&A session following his October visit, Kunz responded to questions about his Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staffers Reflect on Books Worth Reading Over The Break

For educators — not unlike surgeons, attorneys and others in professional avocations — keeping up with the “tricks of the trade” is a necessity. Physicians must consistently take refresher courses or attend seminars just to keep up with the advances in medicine.

Attorneys require updates on new laws and legal trends. And teachers and educators who are interested in bettering their skills are constantly attending lectures, taking continuing education courses and checking out the latest literature to stay at the top of their field.

So, once again, we’ve checked in with Eagle Rock staffers to discover what they’re reading on the holiday break that’s going to impact their students come January.

Here’s a short list of who’s reading what (note: clicking on any of the book cover images will take you to that book’s page on

Just-Like-Us-Book-CoverJust Like Us — by Helen Thorpe

This book follows four young women in Denver as they graduate from high school and head off to college. All four of the young women have parents who are undocumented and several are also undocumented. It brings to the forefront what the label “undocumented” does to their identity.

This book provides a great insight to some of the struggles of balancing two cultures — especially for those that are undocumented and really wanting to succeed in this country.

I read this book when I was working with undocumented students and students who had undocumented parents. I had grown up knowing very well what undocumented students and parents go through, and this was something that helped validate some of the identity struggles that I had been surrounded by.

Later I met a researcher who talked about how the Continue reading…

It’s Time to Take a Break Before 2016 Rolls In

Eagle Rock’s 67th graduating class (ER 67) walked off stage with their diplomas at the end of the week before last, signaling the unofficial beginning of our winter trimester break. Students departed campus for break the next day, and the following week, staff wrapped up their final meetings and work for the trimester.

This is always a welcome break — and a most deserved break — for both students and many staff, giving us an opportunity to recharge our batteries before ER 68 commences in January of 2016. Some of us, however, are working here on campus while students are gone, as our schedules are not as directly connected to the flow of the academic trimesters. For the most part though, campus is a lot quieter, allowing for images such as the one below to be captured while no one’s around:


Our staff will return to campus on Continue reading…

Nine Eagle Rock School Students Earn Their Diplomas

Just in time for the holidays, nine Eagle Rock School students became the latest graduates to emerge from our campus in Estes Park, Colo. — each set to embark on that lifelong journey that almost all commencement speakers talk about.

ER 67’s grads (the 67th graduating class in the history of Eagle Rock School) received their diplomas on Friday, Dec. 11, in ceremonies that were recorded and are now available to watch online at Eagle Rock’s Ustream channel. Graduates included Ashalou Harrison, Emelia Eller, Daisy Delgado, Joey Flores, Cristian Aguiluz, Bryan Yanez, Kira Sinclair, Aaron Beckles and Saben Hinckley.


With their departure, we’re pleased to provide a little background on the graduates, along with words of wisdom from each:

Ashalou Harrison joined us in ER 59 and was a Juniper House resident who was born in Nepal and raised in Hawaii. Highlights of her time at Eagle Rock include working at Rocky Mountain National Park for two summers and traveling with the Eagle Rock Professional Development (PDC) team to San Francisco for a PDC engagement.

This athletic and funny grad, who’s heading off to college after graduation, suggests future Eagle Rock students, “don’t force upon anything — just go with the flow.”

Emelia Eller, ER 60, is from Austin, Texas and St. Louis, Mo., but has spent the past few years as a Continue reading…

Understanding Our Professional Development Center’s Theory of Action

Here at Eagle Rock School, our Professional Development Center owes much of its success to the fact that we take seriously our charge of having an impact on student engagement in high schools on a national basis. Ours is a small team with four national facilitators, and as a result, we are spread rather thin considering our nationwide parameters.

As a result, we don’t crisscross the country in an effort to persuade other schools to do things our way — even though our own school’s processes have been incredibly successful, especially where re-engaging the unengaged has been concerned. Instead, we concentrate on working with educators who agree that they have “something” that they want to improve upon with respect to their own schools’ engagement with its students. And once we’re in accord, we surface the assets of the target school or organization and help them create an implementation plan around their particular assets.

In other words, we teach educators and administrators how to cook with the ingredients already in their kitchen.

To do this, we’ve developed a ‘hedgehog’ — a single-minded and focused strategy that we successfully use ourselves and urge other educational institutions to employ. And before we go further, a brief description of this concept is in order.

Identifying your hedgehog is a notion that was popularized by Jim Collins in his best-selling book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. The concept envisions a Continue reading…

News From The Rock: Vision 2020

Editor’s Note: Like many leading not-for-profit organizations, the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is guided by a strategic planning process — the end result of which is a document enabling board and staff to plan for the allocation and use of resources over a multiple year period in order to fulfill the organization’s mission and make significant steps toward realizing its vision. Today’s post, authored by Eagle Rock’s head of school, Jeff Liddle, focuses on the work of Eagle Rock’s board, staff, educators and students with respect to our strategic plan, titled Vision 2020.

Vision 2020
By Jeff Liddle, Head of School

Since our founding in 1993, Eagle Rock has developed a reputation as a leader in the progressive education movement with a particular focus on engaging disengaged high school students.

Our integration of relevant, engaging and experiential academic courses with personal growth and community living is unique and useful to educators around the country and transformative to our students. The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center (PDC) has worked deeply within the Eagle Rock School through numerous school improvement initiatives, supporting Public Allies’ fellowship program, as well as new teacher licensure programs and hosting visiting educators.

Over the past 22 years, the PDC has also worked with networks of schools, supported change efforts around the country and has produced two books and numerous articles on school reform. Our vision is that all of this country’s high school youth be fully engaged in their education.

We believe this will be better accomplished by sharing a coherent sense of where we are going and how we are going to get there, and for that reason we embarked upon a strategic planning process in 2013. A well-developed strategy helps ensure that our daily work fits in with the long-term results we intend to achieve. In particular, our strategic plan guides our board of directors, administration, staff and students in leading the organization.

Updating our vision and mission statements

Through our strategic planning process, our board crafted and adopted updated vision and mission statements and, along with Eagle Rock staff and students, incorporated seven major areas of focus into an updated version of our strategic plan. Within those areas, there were more than 30 specific initiatives from which to choose.

Through a thoughtful process, we selected a Continue reading…