SRI’s Summer Confab Featured Music Video from Eagle Rock School

The School Reform Initiative (SRI) recently held its first virtual Summer Meeting. Traditionally, SRI — an independent, non-profit organization that supports the creation of transformational learning communities — hosts an annual face-to-face gathering each fall where educators come together and renew their commitment to educational equity and excellence.

However, this year, given the current health and economic conditions across the country and the concerns related to travel due to COVID-19, the Houston-based organization put off its fall meeting in Memphis until next year, and opted instead to host a summer meeting online. And while the format for coming together as a community of learners changed, what didn’t is SRI’s focus on serving as an agent for its community of facilitators who work with schools, districts, and other agencies and organizations to give students what they need to be successful — regardless of their internal and external social and cultural contexts.

During the opening session of the virtually presented event, Eagle Rock students were highlighted in a music video they created in an Eagle Rock School class named Reflect, Connect, and Create Music. The five-minute video, which you can watch below, features expressive rap, songs, and instrumentals, illustrated by scenes of protest and support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

 

Reflect, Connect, and Create Music was taught by our Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist, Cedric Josey, and our 2020/2021 Public Allies Fellow in Residential Life, Lucia Sicius. The class encouraged students to focus on reflection, expression, and connection, through music — especially in the time of a global pandemic.

To our way of thinking, especially in the midst of a global health pandemic, students need us to Continue reading…

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…

Meet the Team: Stephany Subdíaz — Math Instructional Specialist

From time to time, we set posts aside that deal with new classes and schedules and programs and events, and instead focus on the individual instructors and staff members that make up the diverse and unique members of the Eagle Rock community.

This time around, we’re going to learn a little about Stephany Subdiaz, a math instructor who enjoys designing courses that are fun, engaging, growth inducing, and relevant to our students. She uses dice game to teach statistics and multiplying fractions. Students learn order of operations through her loan-related math challenges. And they receive fundamentals in exponents through the latest infection rates associated with COVID-19.

For Stephany, like all Eagle Rock School instructional specialists, the key is to engage students critical thinking and creativity skills. And, because math is all around us, she asks students to think of it as a language.

Prior to Eagle Rock, Stephany worked at Colorado Outward Bound for two summers as an outdoor education instructor. She also worked several semesters at the High Mountain Institute, and before that, the UC Santa Cruz Wilderness Orientation program. In fact, it was at UC Santa Cruz where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Sciences.

What attracted Stephany to Eagle Rock was our mission  of Implementing effective and engaging practices that foster each of our student’s unique potential. Growing up in Lennox, Calif., a poor neighborhood next to Inglewood, Stephany said she knows the impact a school like Eagle Rock could have on the population of students that were her own high school peers. By her own admission, Stephany says she was fortunate to be scooped up by a scholar’s program that sent her to a private school, but she saw how many of her neighborhood friends were left behind. She sees her work at Eagle Rock as a way to help others.

We asked Stephany to let us in on a few details about her job and her life. Here’s what had to share: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Seeks its Next Program Director for Public Allies

We’re pleased to announce that Eagle Rock is looking for someone to join our community in the position of Program Director for Public Allies, Eagle Rock. This is an exciting time for us, as we are working to fulfill on our commitment — which we asserted in January of this year — to be an antiracist, social justice-focused organization. By the end of this summer, we expect to have a new fulltime program director onboard for our Public Allies Fellowship Program.

The application deadline for this position is Monday, July 27, with final interviews scheduled for Aug. 3 through 7. We’d like our new director to start work on Monday, Aug. 24. However, to ensure we hire the right individual, we can be somewhat flexible with the timeline.

The new director of Public Allies Eagle Rock will take on the task of running all aspects of our fellowship program, bringing an antiracist commitment to mentoring eight to 13 young professionals who are entering the field of education and will be  performing a year of service at Eagle Rock.

What is Public Allies? This 28-year-old national leadership organization has its focus on producing diverse leaders to address the country’s predominant issues through apprenticeships that are currently active in 22 states. It is a national movement with the goal of empowering young educators to in a way that deeply addresses systemic oppression throughout society.

Public Allies’ emerging leaders-in-the making are expected to utilize their talents and interests in order to help create a better future for the communities they call home. Statistically, these diverse agents of change are currently comprised of 80 percent people of color, 60 percent women, with a majority of all participants coming from low- and moderate-income families living within underserved communities. Among the nation’s Public Allies alumni are Grammy Award-winning artists, comedians, elected officials, community organizers, educators, and nonprofit executives.

Eagle Rock’s new Public Allies program director should feel comfortable working at Continue reading…

5 Eagle Rock Employees Departing after a Century of Service

Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is saying goodbye to five of its staff members in the coming months — a group that represents more than 103 years of service to our progressive learning community.

All five of these employees have invested double-digit years at Eagle Rock, with four of them working behind the scenes, and one educator. From supervisor to receptionist, their job titles all had one purpose top of mind: a successful education for high school students and who are interested in taking control of their lives and learning. Each has plans for life after Eagle Rock, ranging from settling down closer to family, to reading books and seeing the country in a new RV.

Below, we honor these five veteran Eagle Rock community members, beginning with the longest-serving employee to the most “recent.” In each case, we asked them to describe their job responsibilities, their education and past professional experiences, their memories of the school, and future plans. Continue reading…

Online Ceremony Marks Celebration for Eagle Rock School’s Newest Grads

As we continue to operate almost entirely online amid COVID-19, we again switched things up — this time for our 81st trimester graduates — with an online Celebration of Graduates.

Those graduating this trimester include Forrest Henninger, Ethan Gallagher, and Daniel Rios. Traditionally, graduation ceremonies take place in the Human Performance Center on our campus in Estes Park, Colo. However, due to the health pandemic, our campus has remained closed to students and visitors since March, and all of our staff and students have remained engaged through remote work and learning.

The 81st trimester Celebration of Graduates was delivered online last week through Zoom, highlighted by a video containing faculty speeches, remembrances, pictures, shout outs, and advice to new and current Eagle Rock School students from the departing graduates themselves.

Although a live pomp and circumstance celebration was not an option again this trimester, Forrest, Ethan, and Daniel have the opportunity to “walk” the next time an in-person graduation can take place on campus.

Below are biographies of each graduate, including information about what they learned, what they achieved, and what their future plans entail: Continue reading…

Meet the Team: Eagle Rock’s Director of Curriculum Janet Johnson

Today, we come full circle with Janet Johnson, who has been our Director of Curriculum since mid-June, and now becomes the first Eagle Rocker to be profiled for a second time on Meet the Team.

Back in August of 2014, in a post titled Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s Science Instructor and House Parent – Janet Johnson, we spotlighted Janet, who at that time was well into her 13th year at Eagle Rock, serving as a science instructor and one of the house parents at Aspen House. She later supported the school’s new instructors for two years as they transitioned into our community.

Janet left Eagle Rock four years ago to become Director of Competency-based Learning and Director of Curriculum at RiseUp Community School in downtown Denver. While there, she helped develop and direct RiseUp’s learning competences — Think, Advocate, and Grow — as well as supported teachers in their efforts to create classes that push students’ learning and growth.

Now back at Eagle Rock as our Director of Curriculum, Janet leads an academic team made up of nine instructional specialists and their Public Allies Instructional Fellows, as well as recruits, hires, supports, and mentors new instructional specialists. She also conducts performance reviews with all of our instructional specialists, coordinates course scheduling and instructor workloads, as serves on our in-house leadership team.

Recently, we sat down with Janet — for a second time — to find out a little more about her professional background and some personal stuff. We love the personal stuff. Continue reading…