Virtual Duck Race Benefits Eagle Rock’s Graduate Higher Ed Fund

We’re super excited to finally announce the pandemic version of the Estes Park Duck Race. This year’s highly anticipated Estes Park Rotary Duck Race is still on, featuring cash and high-end prizes, the excitement of a competitive race, and the opportunity to help Eagle Rock School graduates with the cost of higher education.

However, because of the ongoing health pandemic that is curtailing such in-person crowd-pleasing events around the globe, the 2020 duck race won’t exactly be all that it’s previously been quacked up to be. This year’s race will be delivered virtually, online. So when we say, “You don’t have to be present to win,” this time around we really mean you don’t have to be present to win. In fact, we would prefer you stay at home.

On a serious note, the Estes Park Rotary Duck Race is the biggest fundraiser of the year that we’re asked to participate in, and we’re grateful for the Estes Park Rotary Club’s decision to hold the 2020 race — broadcasting the event live and immediately announcing the winners to an audience of duck adopters watching online from the comfort of their homes.

Here’s are how things are going to go down the river this time around:

It’s going to be a virtual Duck Race, run on Saturday, Sept. 19. However, instead of dropping rubber duckies in the river and pulling them out at the finish line, the event’s organizers are going to put all the duck’s bib numbers in a rotating barrel and pull them out one by one.

Each duck’s bib number will be entered into the computer, as has been done for many years, winners will be determined by a Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Focusing on Real World Learning Experiences

More than halfway through our school’s 82nd trimester (known as ER 82), all of our students have been tasked with answering this essential question: “How can I best direct my own learning to successfully support my future goals?

We’re calling this new educational experience Real World Learning as our student body continues to learn from their own homes during the 2020 health pandemic, using online tools such as Google Classroom and Zoom. And admittedly, it’s a broad topic, with each student asked to create an individual learning plan that fits in with their passions, curiosities, and virtual learning needs.

At this point in the trimester, each student has already selected from among a range of experiences, focusing on their future and concentrating on those interests that are most likely to put a sparkle in their eye.

Among the interests expressed by students are mastering a musical instrument, learning a foreign language, graphic design, antiracism projects, and college courses in entrepreneurship. Other interests include certification courses in First Aid, wilderness medicine, fitness, real estate, food handling and construction management. And some of our students have also opted to continue employment in their hometowns, focusing on responsibilities associated with those duties during their five-week Real World Learning experience.

To date, all students have announced their own individual learning plan and have met with their Continue reading…

I Learn America at Eagle Rock School

Late last year at Eagle Rock School, World Languages Instructional Specialist Josán Perales, and Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist Cedric Josey combined efforts to teach a class exploring personal identities in association with global issues. The class, named Beyond Borders, encouraged students to look for how their identities intersect and are affected by historical and current issues in their lives.

By asking students to become experts of their own narratives and storytellers of their own lives, Josán and Cedric sought to encourage understanding across real or perceived lines of difference. In support of their effort, they ran across a documentary film called “I Learn America and immediately reached out to Jean-Michel Dissard, the film’s co-director/co-producer (along with Gitte Peng), who was more than willing to partner with them by engaging with students after they watched the film.

If you’re unfamiliar with I Learn America, it’s a 2013 documentary was filmed at International High School at Lafayette — a Brooklyn, New York, public high school attended by newly arrived immigrants from around the world. The film focuses on five teenagers as they Continue reading…

At Eagle Rock School, We’re Practicing RCE Like our ABC’s

Picture this: A student abruptly walks off our school’s Field of Dreams (i.e., our athletic field, where intramurals are played), fists clenched and head down. A staff member catches up and starts to say something. Then she remembers RCE — an acronym for Recognize, Get Curious, Empower, that encourages the practice of an evidence-based mental health modality that all teachers and staff at Eagle Rock School have recently started to take to heart.

Recognize, Get Curious, EmpowerThe staff member realizes she is angry at the student for reacting to an emotional trigger during intramurals and storming off the field. Instead of judging the student or reacting in kind, the staff member checks in with her own mind, body, and emotions, and takes a deep breath. As a result, she makes a nonjudgmental acknowledgement of why she is feeling that way and walks silently alongside the student.

A calm conversation ensues, with the student talking about what happened on the field, the high level of expectations the student has for themselves, and the self-imposed pressure to ‘get it right’ all the time.

The staff member listens attentively, then helps the student go deeper by asking questions, all the while providing a nonprejudicial space for the student to explore what’s actually going on. The student admits to feeling insecure and needing to constantly show off or project a sense of competency to others.

The staff member then empowers the student to identify personal solutions and ideas of what is going to work for them to successfully climb out of the situation. Together they come up with a plan and commit to following through with it.

Recognize, Get Curious, and Empower (RCE)

The above scenario pretty much describes how Eagle Rock staff and instructors are incorporating RCE in the daily lives of our students. What prompted our decision to believe in this modality in our day-to-day interactions?

If you’re at all aware of how we do things here at Eagle Rock, you know that this is a diverse community, and that our individual relationships look very different, based as they are on backgrounds, identity markers, and other situational factors. The idea is to honor those differences while providing reference points in how to best support our students.

Because, let’s face it. life for high schoolers is complex, often emotional, and demanding. Regardless of where it’s located, high school is the perfect scenario for mismatched opinions and misinterpreted relationships — both in and outside the learning environment. RCE draws on several evidence-based models, including Motivational Interviewing, Attachment-Based Based therapy, Solutions Focused Therapy, and Mindfulness. Here at Eagle Rock, we’re buoyed by several staff members who fully understand the complex makeup of our student population and are helping the rest of us use the modality in our daily interactions.

The objective is to offer some additional best practices in education and personal growth to ensure that we are supporting students as best as possible. Put simply, RCE can be used when a teacher or staff member approaches a student with issues that must be dealt with.

Below, we break down how the program becomes successful in a residential high school setting such as that offered to Eagle Rock students. First up, Recognize: Continue reading…