Eagle Rock is Now Recruiting New Cohort of Public Allies Fellows

If you’re reading this and you see yourself as a future educational leader filled with a passion to inspire change in the worlds of educational reform, social justice and youth development, we might have a program that’s of interest to you.

Here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, we offer a Public Allies Fellowship that annually provides a dozen individuals with an advanced yearlong service and leadership development experience like no other.

Ten of our 12 current Public Allies fellows during a recent 'Fellows Day Away' at the YMCA of the Rockies.
Ten of our 12 current Public Allies fellows during a recent ‘Fellows Day Away’ at the YMCA of the Rockies.

Located in the mountainside community of Estes Park in the Colorado Rockies, Eagle Rock is a full-scholarship residential high school, serving students between the age of 15 and 21. These teens and young adults come from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods around the country. For most of them, success in a conventional school setting was just not in the cards.

In addition to providing nontraditional education to Eagle Rock students, we also support Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow Develops His Own ‘Sense of Place’

jordan-cernaI arrived at Eagle Rock School a year ago as a contract instructor tasked with co-facilitating a wilderness experience for new students. The 38-day contract was to help provide a wilderness experience in which all incoming Eagle Rock School students must participate prior to becoming an official member of the Eagle Rock community.

While getting to know many students and staff at Eagle Rock during those initial days, I began to feel the connection and commitment these educators and kids had to their environment. Whether it was an educational opportunity or a place of employment, each individual knew they belonged to something very special.

This mountainside setting simply felt like a force of influence. As we all settled into our new environment, I saw students taking time from their learning environment to work on personal growth. I saw staff members who told me they returned to Eagle Rock after trying out new positions in other locations with other organizations. What powerful bond brought these individuals back to Eagle Rock?

As I walked the trails on campus and wandered around the rustic buildings in town, I purposely spent a lot o Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s 2016/2017 Public Allies Fellows

Fresh off two full weeks of on-campus training, our 2016/2017 cohort of Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows now officially begin — or in some cases continue — their year-long service and leadership development as part of the national Public Allies Fellowship.

During their time here, these new and returning fellows will take an active part in Eagle Rock’s residential and community-based school, as well as support our Professional Development Center’s national work. Each fellow has shown a passion for alternative teaching and progressive approaches to learning, youth development and empowerment. And each is expected to support our objective of re-engaging high-school students in their education.

All fellows participate in on-going professional development on a weekly basis, and are a part of regular full-staff meetings. Professional development topics include teaching approaches and pedagogy, leadership development, capacity building, equity, cross-cultural understanding and social justice, among others (including self care).

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Here is a short biography and educational history of each fellow in the cohort:

Aaron Segura, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Curriculum

Aaron was brought up in Ohio and graduated from Clark University where he studied political science and environmental studies, and played for the men’s soccer team. Aaron most recently resided in upstate New Hampshire where he worked at an alternative boarding school. A few of Aaron’s interests include watching and playing soccer, rock climbing, ultra-running, and learning about human anatomy and physiology.

Alexus Bell, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science

Alexus is originally from San Diego, Calif., but found her career passion while majoring in educational science at the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s 2015/2016 Public Allies Fellows ‘Take Flight’ at Summer’s End

Our 2015/2016 Public Allies fellows depart our mountainside campus at the end of this week after spending a year teaching, learning and being an enormous part of the Eagle Rock family.

This latest cohort of fellows joins an impressive 150 Public Allies Fellows who have completed the program here at Eagle Rock. In fact, our program is among the most successful in the nation, scoring in the high 90th percentile. You can learn about this group at their arrival on campus last September by reading 2015/2016 Public Allies Fellows Arrive On Campus.

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Meanwhile, here’s what our “graduating” fellows have planned for their immediate future:

Ally Bolger, Science Teaching Fellow: After Eagle Rock, Ally is moving to Colorado Springs where she will be teaching high school biology and chemistry at CIVA Charter High School. She is excited for the opportunity to apply all she has learned about alternative education, engaging teaching strategies, and building supportive relationships with students. In her free time, Ally is also excited to spend more time outside and explore her new surroundings. And since she’s very familiar with the 2.5-hour drive back to Eagle Rock, we’re looking forward to many return visits.

Aranda Salazar, Residential Life Fellow: Aranda will be sticking around Colorado after her year with us, pursuing whatever her heart desires. During her time at Eagle Rock she was better able to see that she values working directly with people, being a part of a team, and feeling valued as an employee. She hopes to find these qualities in future work places. And in her continued pursuit for happiness, she plans to spend more time with Continue reading…

Our Fellows Team Service Projects are Well Underway

It is the task of our Public Allies fellows to serve a full school year in an apprenticeship where they are asked to create, improve and expand services offered by Eagle Rock — specifically in the areas of youth development and education.

Like Allies across the country, fellows also participate in a rigorous leadership development program and community building activities, and they each contribute to team service projects (TSPs).

Eagle Rock Team Service Projects

The TSP is a unique opportunity to lead and learn through team experience in upholding the Public Allies values in six areas:

  • Diversity & Inclusiveness
  • Integrity
  • Focus on Assets
  • Collaboration
  • Continuous Learning
  • Innovation

Well-designed TSPs seek to recognize the assets of a community instead of approaching communities in a needs-based way. In small groups — and in partnership with community members — Allies create, implement and evaluate a service project that will ideally have a sustainable and lasting positive impact.

This year we introduced the concept of TSPs during core training. And before students even arrived on campus, our fellows had already begun to brainstorm ideas for projects inspired by their own strengths and passions. As the weeks progressed, and as fellows became more integrated into the Eagle Rock community, additional ideas emerged.

Fellows captured their thoughts in a Continue reading…

Applicants Sought for Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellowship Program

Public Allies Eagle RockIn just five short months, Eagle Rock’s 2015-2016 Public Allies Fellows have made significant impacts on our community, and have helped better serve our students, as well as our national mission that supports re-engaging high school youth in their own education.

A few of their initiatives include the development of new courses, including Other Worlds, Street Art as Social Action, Alternative Energy, Call of Duty, The Shape of Space, and Holocaust & Indigenous Genocide. In addition, these dozen 2015/2016 Public Allies fellows were instrumental in creating new student programs, such as our Writing Center, Workout Warriors, Youth Radio, along with affinity groups and support mechanisms that foster a healthier culture around sexual health and relationships.

Michael Grant, our Music Fellow, established regular Instructional Fellow meetings on his own initiative to discuss and reflect on experiences in the classroom. Our Residential Life fellow, Aranda Salazar, is defining her newly created position by creating a more structured and engaging curriculum for out-of-class time.

When not on wilderness trips, Monse Alvarez, our Outdoor Education Fellow, has been translating our outdoor education materials into Spanish, and is eager to help support literacy across the Eagle Rock curriculum within her department.

With the help of Claire Oliphant, our Visual Arts fellow, Mia Stroutsos has taken lead on a new project in Santa Fe, N.M., as our Professional Development Center fellow. In that capacity, she is partnering students from an underserved community with a video storytelling nonprofit called Little Globe in order to tell their stories.

These are just a sampling of the projects and initiatives our Public Allies fellows are engaged in. All 12 of them are making their mark on Eagle Rock.

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These are huge accomplishments that, without question, will Continue reading…

Teaching Fellows Take a Day Away to Focus on Team Building

The New Year was barely nine days old and we’d just returned to Eagle Rock from our trimester break. And now, here we were, heading off to the YMCA of the Rockies for our mid-year Fellows’ Day Away.

As director of Public Allies here at Eagle Rock, I was responsible for facilitating our 12 Public Allies fellows through a day that focused on reconnecting, framing the trimester ahead, reflecting and goal-setting, and intentional time to work on Team Service Projects (TSPs).

Our day began with a quick energizer outside, highlighted by a backdrop that included snow-covered views of the Rockies.

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Michael Soguero, our Professional Development Center (PDC) director, presented us with an introduction and overview of the Leadership Challenge — a global campaign to liberate the leader in everyone. Fellows will be learning and utilizing skills outlined in the Leadership Challenge framework to frame their TSP work for the trimester.

Michael highlighted the importance of Continue reading…

Former Teaching Fellow Uses Tools He Learned About at Eagle Rock

Tyler Holmberg has been away from the Eagle Rock campus for more than a decade now, but this former Public Allies teaching fellow still retains Eagle Rock’s philosophy that the student comes first in the education equation.

Tyler HolmbergTy was our 2004/2005 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Human Performance. His passions ranged from teaching and working with young people to agriculture and carpentry. While he was with us, Ty focused this combined energies on a class called Green Thumb Bums.

In the late summer of 2005, when his fellowship came to an end, Ty packed up his year’s worth of belonging and — armed with Eagle Rock’s educational values that include learner-centered classrooms conducted in small democratic spaces where student voices are honored and respected — headed to Philadelphia. There he reconnected with his passion for carpentry, using that craft to build houses as a part of his service with AmeriCorps. Following that two-year stint, Ty rejoined the education community, enrolling in one of the first cohorts of the Philadelphia Teaching Fellowship, which is now part of The New Teacher Project (TNTP). (For anyone who may be interested, TNTP currently offers teaching fellowships in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Nashville, New York City, New Orleans, Nevada and Michigan).

After becoming certified as a science teacher in Pennsylvania, Ty taught 7th grade science at a public school in south Philadelphia. Public school, you say? Yes, Ty said he found it necessary to become a part of the public school system in order to fully understand what was broken so he could Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s 2015/16 Public Allies Fellows Arrive on Campus

For Christi Kelston, this month brings a fresh crop of Public Allies Fellows — the first to start under her direction since she became Eagle Rock’s new director of Public Allies this past spring.

Christi joins everyone else here at Eagle Rock in welcoming our 12 new Public Allies Fellows. Funded by AmeriCorps, Public Allies believes that everyone leads, and that everyone can work to inspire others to believe in themselves, step up to the plate, and take action.

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Here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, we’ve been active participants in Public Allies, hosting a dozen Fellows for a year of service at our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colo. In fact, we’ve sponsored more than 150 Public Allies to date, with the number successfully completing the program in the upper 90th percentile. As a result, Eagle Rock’s program is the most successful in the nation when in comes to retention of our Fellows.

Take a look at the profiles below, and if you happen to spot one of these Public Allies at a conference or training, be sure to say hello and ask them about their Eagle Rock experience.

Here are a few fun facts about each of our new Fellows:

  • Monserrat Alvarez, Outdoor Education Teaching Fellow: While studying religious and nonprofit studies at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., “Monse” also worked with the outdoor programs through the university. Most recently, she worked the summer season with North Carolina Outward Bound School at its Table Rock base camp. Raised in Raleigh, Monse loves backcountry adventure, cooking up her grandmother’s recipes and spending her free time with her mom and little brother.
  • Ally Bolger, Science Teaching Fellow: This New Jersey native studied geology and Russian at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine. This summer, Ally led backpacking trips across Europe with Apogee Adventures. In her free time she takes part in long-distance bicycle tours, skiing in all its forms, hiking, exploring new places, spending time with people, cooking and eating ice cream.
  • Maya Edery, Society & Cultures Teaching Fellow: Raised just outside of Detroit, Maya studied women, gender & sexuality, as well as anthropology/sociology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. This past summer, she traveled to Brazil with Continue reading…

An Outdoor Education Fellow’s Perspective of The Eagle Rock School Wilderness Orientation Course

Since Eagle Rock’s inception, a new student wilderness orientation course has been an unconventional tradition that sets ours apart from other learning habitats. As an Outdoor Education Fellow, I continue to be blown away by how Eagle Rock engrains — and then celebrates — the wilderness experience as a right of passage for new students.

The moments they first step foot on campus, new Eagle Rock School students find themselves surrounded by veteran students and the first topic of conversation is inevitably, the wilderness course. These more experienced students talk about how much they enjoyed it or hated it. They offer the newbies tips and tricks on staying clean, or the best way to snag some extra toilet paper.

And soon, these fresh new faces hear about circles — a restorative process that is used frequently while in wilderness. Like the name suggests, students and instructors form a circle in order to create an emotionally safe space for discussions. Interestingly enough, there has been an evolution in how students reminisce about their experience with circles.

It was often described as a negative experience, but over time, something has changed. The concept of circles, and the perspective of them, has changed. I’ll explain why I think this change has occurred in just a moment.

I often tell students near the end of the 24-day wilderness expedition, that one of the many reasons we go out into the backcountry for two dozen days is because there’s really no place to hide. Wilderness forces us all to step up to the plate, to embody our strengths consistently, and it exposes areas with which we are struggling.

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Sometimes, it exposes problem areas we didn’t even know we had. But the one thing 24 days gives us is time. We have time to stop, time to contemplate, time to discuss what’s going on. And time to figure out how we can move forward in order to curtail, contain or take the power out of a conflict that might impede the functionality of the group — our community.

Of course, conflict is unavoidable. We like to think it is a healthy approach to developing a positive group culture that correctly, and appropriately reflects the vast values and perspectives of its community. An introductory way that we do this is with affective statements and questions. These tools are incorporated into circles and the progression of questions the facilitator uses. One-on-one coaching is an essential tool of the wilderness instructor. Students often need support in how they bring up issues or frustrations with affective statements.

For instance Continue reading…