Eagle Rock Takes Some Professional Development Engagements Online

There is certainly little good that can be said about the COVID-19 health pandemic, but there have been some silver linings — you just have to look between the lines.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced every school in the nation to shut its doors and move the remainder of the school year online, and we here at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center (PDC) are among those organizations that have felt the brunt of that epidemic eviction. However, in our particular case, we have also been forced to innovate the delivery of our professional development engagements. And that has turned out to be a good thing.

We are both a residential school for high school-aged students who have shown a sincere interest in reengaging in their own education. And we also offer professional development services for educators across the United States who are similarly committed to making high school a more engaging experience for our country’s youth.

And that leads us to today’s post, which as you’ll see, highlights the work of our talented professional development team in action — something that would have been impossible for you to observe before the health pandemic forced us to deliver our engagements online.

Since the early 1990s, our professional development staffers have visited schools, education organizations, and conferences and seminars across the country, sharing what we know educational improvement. And now, in response to the pivot from face-to-face professional development engagements, our PDC team has launched an online professional learning community series, in addition to continuing supporting clients coast to coast. Open to the education community, the series is titled, “Join Our Community of Educators Grappling with, and Solving, Dilemmas,” and convenes at 10 a.m. Mountain Time each Thursday via Zoom.

Topics at these online sessions include Continue reading…

Milestone Democratic School Highlights Our Latest PDC Work

It’s a brand new trimester here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, and that means a brand new and very busy schedule for our Professional Development Center (PDC) staffers as they crisscross the nation, meeting with administrators and teachers at more than a dozen school districts and youth service organizations.

Today’s post covers our PDC’s engagement agenda for our 80th trimester, all with the objective of facilitating student engagement through school improvement events for organizations across the nation. The idea is to help create healthy, high-functioning learning environments.

And, in order to accomplish this aim, we have the hardworking staff from our Professional Development Center, including PDC Director Sarah Bertucci, Associate Director Dan Condon, and Professional Development Associate Anastacia Galloway Reed.

A highlight of our work this trimester is Milestone Democratic School — a Fitchburg, Wisconsin, charter school that opens in August of 2020. This independent, tuition-free school serves students ages 12 through 20 by placing them at the center of the conversation about how education should be designed and supported. By empowering their students to assist in decision-making when it comes to the teaching and learning that takes place in this school, Milestone is squarely focused on creating a school  that inspires and engages students.

Milestone’s planning team will visit us here in Estes Park in March, where Dan Condon will work the group on approaches to values-based learning, proficiency/competency-based assessment, and student-directed project-based learning.

Milestone is envisioned as a school that is equitable, inclusive and welcoming to all, including those with disabilities, migrant students, English learners, and students facing poverty. Many of Milestones student will eventually serve on the school’s Design Team in order to ensure the organization’s vision of a free and open environment to anyone willing to learn.

In the meantime, while we prepare for the team at Milestone to arrive here for their March 16-18 retreat, below is an update focused on all of our current professional development engagements. If you’d like to enquire about engaging with our PDC for a project at your school or organization, please use the  Continue reading…

PDC Helps Create Competency-based Learning Playbooks

Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) has embarked on a project that includes facilitating a competency-based education and training initiative with an iLEAD-affiliated high school that supports pregnant and parenting teens in and around Lancaster, Calif.

PDC staff members, including Associate Director of Professional Development Dan Condon, have been instrumental in facilitating a number of initiatives for Empower Generations, including the ongoing creation of a Competency-Based Education Playbook.

Competency-based learning (CBL), which is an approach to teaching and learning of measurable skills rather than abstract learning, is at the core of Empower Generations’ offerings for students pursuing a high school diploma while navigating through new experiences as a result of pregnancy and parenthood. Guided by CBL, students enrolled at the Southern California school focus on what is taught and not on the amount of time spent completing credits. Instead of marinating in a seat for four years, students learning in this particular CBL setting work at their own pace to demonstrate mastery in the competencies necessary for receiving their high school diploma.

In other words, the focus of competency-based learning is on the final outcome and not the journey. This is a huge benefit for independent and adult learners who may be working towards a degree around other schedules.

Specifically, the competency-based learning approach features five core elements:  Continue reading…

Fall 2019 Update from the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center

As we do several times throughout the year, today’s post covers what’s occurring within our Professional Development Center — Eagle Rock’s conduit to working with schools, school districts, and youth service organizations to create healthy, high-functioning learning environments with the aim of improving student engagement across the United States.

As always, the Professional Development Center (PDC) staff — including PDC Director Sarah Bertucci, Associate Director Dan Condon, and Professional Development Associate Anastacia Galloway Reed — are hosting educators here on campus, as well as traveling to schools and events nationally to facilitate school improvement through workshops and training events. They’re also focusing on our own school — Eagle Rock School — to improve its current practices. This trimester, for example, the team of PDC staffers is helping the school evolve its Presentations of Learning as a mechanism to allow students to learn about and contribute to Eagle Rock’s focus on having a national impact. (If you’re unfamiliar with POLs, please read Understanding Eagle Rock’s Presentations of Learning — then, check back here early next year for an update on how our POLs are evolving.)

In the meantime, below is an update focused on all of our current professional development engagements. If you’d like to enquire about engaging with our PDC for a project at your school or organization, please connect with us using the PDC Contact Form on our website.  Continue reading…

Professional Development from Eagle Rock Continues its Blistering Pace

Our staff returned last week from our most recent trimester break, and most Eagle Rock School students are back this week as we kick off what is arguably the best part of the year — summer trimester.

Classes for returning Eagle Rock School students begin on Monday, May 20, while our new incoming class of students is set to arrive on campus on Tuesday, May 21. The following Monday the new students head off for our school’s traditional three-week Wilderness Orientation program that is a requirement for all new Eagle Rock School students.

Not only are we enjoying the bright sunshine and longer days in Colorado, but we are also initiating the school’s 78th trimester — also known as ER 78. And while administrators, staff, instructors and students take on the work of reengaging in education here in Estes Park, our Professional Development Center (PDC) facilitating school improvement workshops throughout the country as well as hosting educators here on campus in Estes Park. In this post, we bring you the latest update on the working engagements of the PDC.

As you can see below, we have listed the schedule of professional development deliveries that we are hosting, participating in, or offering from now until the middle of August. Continue reading…

Marking 5 Years of Professional Development for Ohio Valley’s Related Arts Instructors

Described in simple terms, the Ohio Valley encompasses a series of small towns alongside the Ohio River in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all of them heavily dependent on the steel industry.

During my high school years, our nation’s steel industry began to collapse and with it, the economies of many of these riverside communities, among them my own hometown of Weirton, West Virginia. Weirton Steel — our city’s primary employer — fell on hard times and as a result, many families in that town joined others up and down the Ohio River who suffered major economic losses.

Just across the river from my hometown lies Steubenville, Ohio, whosename is derived from Fort Steuben, a 1786 fort that sat within the city’s current limits and was named for German-Prussian military officer Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Today, a replica of the fort is open to the public (downtown on South Third Street). The city’s other claims to fame are its annual Christmas Nutcracker Village & Advent Market, Dean Martin Festival, and more than 25 murals scattered throughout the city. Steuben is also the county seat of Jefferson County.

As an Ohio Valley native — and with the above as background — I take great pride in the work I’m able to do in this area through a long-time partnership between our Professional Development Center (PDC) and the Jefferson County Education Service Center (ESC).

This educational collaboration started as a Continue reading…

Eagle Rock to Host Council for Aid to Education Training March 14

Early next month, we’ll be opening the doors of our on-campus Professional Development Center for a daylong Council for Aid to Education (CAE) training on Performance-Based Assessments. For a few years now, we’ve been closely associated with the works of this nationwide, non-profit council, which is committed to helping education institutions measure and improve learning outcomes by offering innovative assessments and developing custom tests.

In particular, here at Eagle Rock, we use CAE’s College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA+) alongside more than 300 other schools throughout the country and internationally. The CWRA+ assesses higher-order thinking and written communications skills for students from all walks of life — from the most privileged to the most disengaged.

So, it’s no wonder we were eager to help out when CAE asked us to host the March 14 training from 8:30am-5pm, which is entitled, Performance-Based Assessment Workshop.

The training offers participants the opportunity to Continue reading…

Winter-Spring 2019 Briefing from the Professional Development Center

As Eagle Rock School’s staff members and students immerse themselves into the school’s 77th trimester, our non-stop Professional Development Center (PDC) continues its work in helping high schools across the country develop programs and protocols aimed at re-engaging youth in their own education.

For decades, our dedicated Professional Development Center team has signed on to collaborate with progressive and innovative educators around the United States in order to enhance educational strategies and design. To achieve the objectives and goals these educational organizations have developed for themselves, our facilitation builds on the assets they already possess (we refer to it as asset-based facilitation).

Please see the schedule below to see what’s on our facilitation agenda for now through the middle of April (and use the information presented at the end of this briefing to get in touch with us about your organization’s upcoming professional development-related needs):

JANUARY 2019

Jan. 21 – 23

Princeton Program for Teacher Preparation, Estes Park, Colo.: Dan Condon, Eagle Rock Associate Director of Professional Development, along with Doen Lee, our 2018/2019 Fellow in Professional Development, are hosting Ally Markovich from the Princeton Program for Teacher Preparation here on the Eagle Rock campus. In this visit, Ally will have many opportunities to observe Continue reading…

Cultivating Democracy in High Schools Across Illinois

As you may have read in the Press Release section of the Eagle Rock website, our Professional Development Center is deeply engaged in supporting education renewal work in Illinois. Specially, we’re working in collaboration with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to further the organization’s Democracy Schools program in select high schools across the Prairie state.

The Democracy Schools program is based on the premise that a healthy democracy requires the informed and active participation of all its citizens. Together, Eagle Rock and the McCormick Foundation are supporting a growing network of Illinois high schools committed to educating and empowering students to nurture and sustain democracy. Through high-quality civic learning experiences, students develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that facilitate informed participation in democratic institutions and communities.

Democracy Schools Belvidere

Research has shown that these experiences also promote civic equality, build 21st century competencies, improve school climate, and reduce high school drop-out rates.

Instructional Rounds: The Mechanism for Improvement

Digging a little deeper, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation has engaged our Professional Development Center to provide a key mechanism for improvement in Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Supports Austin’s Youth Entrepreneurs

The Austin (Tex.) Independent School District’s Board of Trustees has many admirable core beliefs, including “All students will graduate college-, career-, and life-ready.”  With that in mind, the District’s latest Strategic Plan Scorecard (PDF file) reveals that 90 percent of its students graduate from high school in four years, but only 70 percent enroll directly in college within one year of graduation (or earn college credit prior to high school graduation).

Among the district’s many efforts to improve college enrollment rates — and prepare more of its students for what life holds in store for them post-graduation — is an innovative program aimed at raising the bar on youth entrepreneurship. Aptly named Student INC, the district-embedded program is on a mission to ignite and align the youth entrepreneurship movement in Austin, and along the way, play a leading role in establishing the central Texas community as the youth entrepreneurship capital of the world.

Studnt_Inc

In South Austin, where Crockett High School is located, the school district turned to our Professional Development Center to facilitate the enhancement of an existing Student INC program and implement programming that sets students up for success after graduation. That’s a perfect project for our professional development team, which works with educators across the country to make the high school experience more engaging for young people.

It turns out, Austin ranks No. 6 in the nation for its ability to attract experienced entrepreneurs and tech talent to the city’s south side. It also ranks No. 3 for economic growth potential and is No. 2 when it comes to the concentration of tech jobs within the country, according to Business Facilities’ 2018 Metro Rankings Report. In addition, the city is ranked No. 4 in the Technology IT Hiring Forecastwhen it comes to desirable locations where CIOs would like to add tech teams.

But if you stop to ask Desiree Morales, the Austin Independent School District’s entrepreneurship program director, about those figures, she’s quick to point out a Continue reading…