Eagle Rock’s ‘School Improvement Project’ Focuses on Common Assessment

Strategic-Planning-Eagle-Rock-SchoolEditor’s Note: “Vision 2020” is the name of the strategic planning process adopted five years ago by Eagle Rock’s board of directors. It helps ensure that our long-term goals coincide with what we do on campus on a day-to-day basis. The vision focuses on seven distinct areas — known as domains — that guide our board, administrators, instructors, staff members and students. One of these domains centers on our academic curriculum, focusing on creating a framework for normed common assessments.

In today’s post, Eagle Rock staffers Jen Frickey, director of curriculum, and Jon Anderson, outdoor education instructional specialist and this year’s instructional coach, address and update the work our staff is doing in the domain of academic curriculum.

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Eagle Rock’s ‘School Improvement Project’ Focuses on Common Assessment
By Jen Frickey (Director of Curriculum) & John Anderson (Human Performance & Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist / 2018 Instructional Coach)

This year, the theme for professional development within Eagle Rock School’s instructional realm, is a close scrutiny of our academic curriculum — specifically pinpointing our power standards. At Eagle Rock School, all students must successfully pass power standard classes on each of our 5 Expectations. These include:

  1. Leadership for Justice
  2. Expanding Knowledge Base
  3. Effective Communication
  4. Healthy Life Choices
  5. Engaged Global Citizen

Top of mind for our educators this year are the school’s Enduring Understanding and long-term learning targets for their own professional development. Enduring Understanding — also known as our 10-Year Takeaway — asks teachers to consider what it is that students will remember about their particular class and what they retained a decade from now.

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By creating and implementing schoolwide common assessments, instructors can improve teacher capacity, thus enhancing Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students, Instructors and Staff Wrap Up Another Successful Year

It’s been a busy December here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, and as we wind down for the holiday season, we thought it might be helpful to post a schedule for the rest of 2017 and the beginning of the calendar year ahead.

First off, where we’ve been this month:

  • We graduated three of our amazing students with pomp and circumstance last Friday, with the rest of the student population heading back to families spread across the nation last weekend.
  • Our staff held a holiday party this past Sunday, wrapping up the trimester with a final staff meeting on Monday morning.

Many staff members will be gathering together to make plans for our 74th trimester (ER-74) this week, as well as put additional thought and work in on the planning for our 25th Anniversary Celebration, which is scheduled for June 30, 2018, here in Estes Park, Colo. And, of course, our business office and operations team continues to run the day-to-day tasks that recognize deadlines and schedules (in addition to holidays and celebrations).

Eagle Rock School Elk Dec 2017
(Photo: ©2017 Joel “Shortz” Ziegler)

Meanwhile, staff from our Professional Development Center are wrapping up the current trimester with several commitments in Wisconsin in support of our clients. These include visits with Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Fall Trimester Grads Take to the Stage This Afternoon

For those of us who consider Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center as our extended family, we pride ourselves on our independence, our desire to take control of our own lives, and our insistence on marching to the beat of a progressive drummer.

Take, for example, our well-attended high school graduation ceremonies. Yes, we’re using the plural of ceremony because here at Eagle Rock, we have three of them each year. We honor this rite of passage for graduates of our fall, spring and summer trimesters and in this, our fall trimester, we have three incredible individuals who will be walking on stage this afternoon (Friday, Dec. 15) to receive their well-earned high school diplomas.

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This latest trimester graduation event — the 73rd since our founding back in the early 1990s — is being broadcasted live, beginning at 4 p.m. Mountain Time, this Friday via our Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/eaglerockschool.

Below is a short biography from each of our three newest graduates where we explain their involvement at Eagle Rock, short and long-term goals, and some sage advice for current and incoming students. Continue reading…

Summer Break 2017 at Eagle Rock School

To paraphrase the American nonfiction writer Charles Bowden, summertime at Eagle Rock offers the best of what might be.

For new students who arrived in early-June, it’s the beginning of a new high school experience and the wilderness orientation trip that accompanies it. For our Public Allies fellows, it’s the end of an advanced year-long service and leadership development experience. And of course, summer signals the graduation of another group of Eagle Rock School students.

(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)
(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)

The summer months on our mountainside campus never fail to impress upon us some of the values we hold so dear — namely, that we choose to focus on continuous improvement and that we are a small organization with an outsized impact.

Along those lines, summer break at Eagle Rock School offers time for some staff, instructors, and administrators to regroup by focusing on Continue reading…

Spring Break at Eagle Rock School is Worktime for Many Eagle Rockers

Eagle Rock School’s 71st trimester officially ended last week, with students from all points of the compass heading home for a well-deserved break. Same goes for many staff and instructional specialists — many are welcoming a short break afforded by the trimester cycle. But as you’ll see from reading on, not all who call Eagle Rock home are on break.

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Staff that are on break return to campus on Monday, May 8, followed by veteran students who come back on Sunday, May 14, to participate in some All School activities and house retreats before classes start on Monday, May 22.

Eagle Rock’s new students — the incoming group we’ll refer to as ER 72 — arrive on Saturday, May 20, just in time for a week of being on campus before heading out for their Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Mission-driven Operations

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the sixth in a series of updates in which we concentrate on segments of Eagle Rock School’s strategic plan, known as Vision 2020. Entitled “Mission-driven Operations,” this sixth of the plan’s seven domains that we’re reporting on today explores efforts to attend to our physical location — the Eagle Rock Campus — in Estes Park, Colo. This post, authored by head of school Jeff Liddle, describes the original conception and construction of our campus in the early 1990s, what has been improved to date, and future projects that are foreseen under our master plan. For an overview of the entire strategic plan, please see News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

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Strategic Plan Update: Mission-driven Operations

By Jeff Liddle, head of School

Environmental psychologists describe sense of place as the specific experience of a specific person in a specific environment. Feelings of joy while walking through a mountain community, or feelings of gratitude while watching students learn and play are two examples that come to mind. Along the same lines, a spirit of space is what gives some locales a particular feel or personality, like a childhood home or a favorite backcountry campsite.

With the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, the American Honda Co. had a vision of an expansive campus situated in a mountainside setting, centered around a lodge, where meals are shared, classes are taught, and a highly specific mission is pursued in a thriving atmosphere where up to 100 students and 30 staff members reside.

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Once our 640-acre campus was acquired, the master plan called for an accessible, site-integrated, walkable, environmentally friendly community. This was accomplished by developing a minimum of physical structures, thus maximizing the pristine setting. It meant installing passive solar systems, photovoltaics and high insulation. Material selection was based on Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Diversity and Inclusion

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the sixth in our series about the Eagle Rock strategic plan — Vision 2020. Below, Jeff Liddle, head of school, shares his insights and updates on our commitment to improving diversity and inclusion at Eagle Rock. If you’re interested in learning about the overall aim of the plan, please read Jeff’s first post in this series: News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

It’s no secret that inequity is a major issue in the United States. Clearly schools must think differently about how they recruit, select, develop and support staff and how they create inclusive environments that serve all young people. We count ourselves among those schools and are therefore also deepening our journey to become a more inclusive and equitable community. While cross-cultural understanding and living in respectful harmony with others have always been Eagle Rock values, our community has recognized that we have room to grow here.

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In our Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, we committed to building a more inclusive culture and increasing the diversity of our staff. It is our intention to be a model organization in this regard, through long term, focused, intentional planning.

Recognizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion

Eagle Rock, which strives to be a model inclusive organization, serves a diverse student body with a diverse staff. It is our intention that staff and students, policies, practices, and programs all align toward the objective of contributing to a more just and equitable society. We are committed to diversity and inclusion for many reasons, including: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Summer Break Means Saying Goodbye and Hello

To date, it’s been an incredibly busy month here at Eagle Rock, what with the graduation of five Eagle Rock School students on Aug. 5, our end of the trimester staff meeting on Aug. 9, bidding farewell to nine of our Public Allies fellows on Aug. 12, and then shortly thereafter saying goodbye to four of our staffers.

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So a break in the schedule is well deserved and welcome. However, while students and some of the staff will be taking some time off, our Professional Development Center (PDC) staff remains on the job, working in California, the Ohio Valley, and Boulder. Look for the PDC’s latest update here on the blog soon.

Meanwhile, here’s the game plan beginning early next month: Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Co-Curricular Framework

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the fifth in our series about the Eagle Rock strategic plan — Vision 2020. Below, Philbert Smith, our long-serving director of students, provides us with an update on his team’s efforts related to the Co-Curricular Framework domain. If you’re interested in learning about the overall aim of the plan, please read Head of School Jeff’s Liddle’s post: News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

Eagle Rock School student Kiyah used to describe himself as a problem child. From showing up late to classes and being unprepared, to having a general lack of focus and choosing not to participate in the community, Kiyah was the type of student who consistently got in his own way. “I tried to be “down” and cool,” he says, “but I was all over the place and no place at all — all at the same time.”

Sadly, Kiyah’s prior educational experience isn’t necessarily new or unique. For any number of reasons, high school students like him all across the nation become actively disengaged from their own education. And when that happens in large numbers, students, teachers and school administrators may choose to simply give up or give in to the apathy we so often hear about at the secondary school level.

Eagle Rock School Philbert Smith Blog post

Here at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, we’re on a mission to implement effective and engaging practices that foster each student’s unique potential in order to help young people like Kiyah use their minds to their top potential. And nowhere is that more evident than on our campus in Estes Park, Colo., where we actively engage our students in their own education.

Guiding our daily work is a strategic plan outlining seven “domains” and associated projects for which we — as administrators, faculty and staff — are accountable. And as our director of students, the fourth domain of that plan — the creation of a Co-Curricular Framework — happily falls in my hands.

As Jeff Liddle (Eagle Rock Head of School) noted when he first wrote about Vision 2020 here on the Eagle Rock blog last December, we’ve been hard at work creating a Continue reading…

Spring 2016 Update from the Professional Development Center

“Plan your work, then work your plan.” I’m not sure who said it first or if it really matters. All I know is if you decide in advance precisely how you’re going to get from where you are to where you want to be, you stand a much better chance of getting there.

At the level of the lowest common denominator, that’s the essence of any plan, including Eagle Rock’s strategic plan for 2015-2020, aptly titled Vision 2020. And as I shared just last week here on the Eagle Rock Blog (see: Strategic Plan Update: National Contribution), the Professional Development Center team is hard at work facilitating programs, trainings and other custom offerings that lead the high schools with whom we work to transform themselves into high-functioning centers of engagement and learning.

Eagle Rock Professional Development Center Update June 2016

More than half of Eagle Rock School’s instructional specialists — those educators who work within our own school — are now engaged in supporting this national mission-related work, along with the entire professional development center team. As a reminder, “national contribution” is the fifth domain within our strategic plan, a document that enables us to fulfill our organization’s mission and make significant steps toward realizing our vision. And, of course, that vision is that this country’s high school youth be fully engaged in their education.

The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center staff kicked off the spring by actively participating in a number of seminars, retreats, focus groups, workshops and educational events across the country, including the ones mentioned below. If you would like to know more about our work — or how your school or organization can work with the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center — please contact Dan Condon, our associate director of professional development, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

May 2 and 3

The Professional Development staff traveled to the Ryan Banks Academy in Chicago, helping to develop STEM and Humanities curriculum for the academy, which is an urban boarding school scheduled to open in September 2017.

May 2 and 3

Our staff also attended an advisory leader retreat to develop advisory vision and plans at Randolph Union High School in Randolph, Vermont.

May 4 and 5

We conducted asset-based observations and appreciative interviews with the staff of Continue reading…