Eagle Rock’s 79th Trimester Begins with Some Unique Class Offerings

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A quick look at a few of the classes available in this, our 79th trimester, shows that Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center continues to stand at the forefront of an approach to education that uniquely encourages students to become actively engaged in their own education.

No cookie-cutter classes here. It’s all about leading our students into a future that they can help develop — free of nonsensical edicts, outmoded education models, and unimaginative curriculum. Here on our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colo., we put the emphasis on classes that will actually turn out to be helpful and useful once our students step out into the real world.

That being said, feel free to check out the list of class names and descriptions below for the first half of ER 79 (the 79th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). A second list will appear here a few weeks before Thanksgiving:

Changing the Game

In this unique class, we’re assuming upfront thatgender roles, race, and power influence sports in the United States just as much as talent and collective bargaining between players and team ownership. Students enrolled in this class are exploring the idea of what it means to be a coach in professional sports. Along the way, they’re getting to know about female coaches like Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) and Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers (NFL). These are the women who are breaking barriers by becoming full-time staff coaches in male-only sports. In this five-week class taught by Jocelyn Rodriguez, our athletics coordinator and houseparent at Spruce House, students are exploring what shapes the rules and reality of professional sports in this country by studying the changes and history of our most popular sports. Along the way, they’re examining the social and political influence of historical moments like the OJ Simpson trial and how race and power impact sports today.

Into the Wild

As you might know from reading our blog, all incoming Eagle Rock School students participate in a 24-day wilderness-based orientation program that starts a week after their arrival on campus. A rite of passage in the Eagle Rock student experience, that program focuses on personal growth and development while ultimately preparing our new students for both the academic and student living experience on campus. This trimester, returning Eagle Rock School students have a chance to deepen their connection to themselves, one another, and the backcountry by enrolling in Into the Wild— a five-week class offered by outdoor education instructional specialist Eliza Wicks-Arshack that’s designed to build skills required of professional, full-time outdoor educators. Taking place mostly outdoors, this class offers opportunities for students to push through preexisting and newly develop comfort zones, be in community with one another in settings where teamwork and personal reflection are required, as well as learn an array of new and advanced technical outdoor skills.


In this class, students are afforded the opportunity to investigate and research a topic that interests them, and then steadily progressing from the role of novice researcher to an expert in that particular field. Students enrolled in this 10-week class, taught by literacy and literature instructional specialist Brett Youngerman, have selected their research topic through a process that balances interest with the general feasibility of the subject matter. That includes resource allocation, rigor, and depth. Here, students are learning how to find and evaluate print and digital sources, as well as identify and examine main arguments, purposes, and biases within them. They’re pulling key ideas and details from their sources that support their emerging research’s questions and claims. Students in this class are also learning how to synthesize and represent discovered bodies of knowledge in an organized way, eventually sharing their new understanding by developing a thesis statement and writing a traditional research paper.


While we’re all keenly appreciative of our brains, how much to do we really know about what’s happening inside this organ that serves as the center of the nervous system? In this 10-week class, taught by science instructional specialist Sara Benge, students are seeking the answer to that question and others by exploring the anatomy, physiology, and habits of the human nervous system. They are studying ways in which the different parts of our brain and nervous system work together to allow us to function in our daily lives. This class also focuses on how the human nervous system develops specific habits and conditioned tendencies in response to our environment and experiences. Ultimately, students enrolled in this class will collect and analyze data in order to make predictions about their own health.


In this class, Eagle Rock students have the opportunity to learn what differentiates a good coach from a not-so-good coach. And they’ll practice what they learn in a hands-on environment while serving as coaches for teams competing in this fall’s Estes Park Youth Soccer League. Specifically, students engaged in this five-week class, offered by Human Performance Center adjunct instructor Chris Iafrati, are taking an in-depth look at the game of soccer, receiving feedback on the creation of implementation of coaching lesson plans, learning how to plan engaging soccer practices, as well as coach youth during live play on nearby soccer fields.

Jewelry Around the World

In this 10-week class, taught by art instructional specialist Cindy Elkins, students interested in jewelry making are learning new methods and techniques as well as how history and culture have impacted the art of jewelry making. Here, students are practicing jewelry-making techniques associated with different locations and time periods from around the world. In the first several weeks of the class, they are being introduced to a variety of jewelry-making techniques, including metalsmithing, glass torch bead work, and paper bead making. As part of understanding the technical aspects of each technique, they are learning about the history or culture associated with each one. Finally, students enrolled in this class will develop a line of jewelry that will be presented to an audience of professional jewelers and then be made available for purchase during our Winter Art Sale.

Facing History

Critical thinking and reflection are requirements for this 10-week class, where students are asked to consider and contribute to Eagle Rock’s mission of maintaining a safe and inclusive school environment. By combining the study of history, literature, and human behavior with ethical decision-making and innovative approaches to teaching, this class promotes students’ historical understanding, critical thinking, and social-emotional learning. While exploring the complexities of history, and making connections to current events, students are also being asked to reflect on the choices that confront them daily and consider how they can make a difference. Through rigorous historical analysis combined with the study of human behavior, this class aims to heighten students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice. This enables them to relate history to their own lives, and to promote greater understanding of each student’s role and responsibilities in a democracy. Taught by world languages instructional specialist and Piñon houseparent Josán Perales and societies and cultures instructional specialist Cedric Josey, the class focuses on practicing communicating across lines of difference and creating a powerful culminating product aimed at synthesizing history and current events.

Learn to Swim

For Eagle Rock students who either want to learn how to swim, improve their swimming skills or just use the pool for a rejuvenating workout, this class puts them in a wet environment on a daily basis. Students enrolled in this five-week class — under the watchful eye of Human Performance Center adjunct instructor Chris Iafrati — are also learning about the unique dynamics associated with nutrition required of new and veteran swimmers.

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