This year — in my position as an Eagle Rock School Public Allies teaching fellow — I have had both the privilege and opportunity to connect with students in order to create meaningful learning experiences.
For the past month, I’ve been working closely with Eagle Rock students through a program I created called The Eagle Talks. This program enables students to engage with a number of successful, inspiring and diverse professionals from outside the Eagle Rock community.
These professionals are Skyped in for an hour to share their stories of success and accomplishment. This discussion provides students with insights about life after high school, race relations in college, and overall life journeys. Afterward, the students ask questions and extract further illuminating dialogue from the presenter.
One major success I credit to this program illustrates how powerful life stories can be for high school students. It was during a discussion period following a presentation and the guest speaker was talking about his passion for music and how he chose to attend college as well as pursue his dreams within the music industry.
The speaker shared stories about his struggles in college, and in particular, his discovery that in order to succeed, he had to remain true to himself. That light bulb moment showed him that he had to constantly seek to identify who he was and what he wanted. This, he explained, fed his burning desire to continue to provide his best work every day.
The students instantly connected with this notion of knowing oneself in order to overcome the trials and hurdles that plague us all in life and education. The speaker told the students that remaining grounded in his culture, identity, religion and more were all necessary elements that enabled him to accomplish everything he planned to do.
Members of his Eagle Rock audience immersed themselves in the discussion, asking questions about the methods he used to remain connected to the items that were expressions of his identity.
This dialogue between students and everyday mentors with differing life experiences and perspectives gives our students an abundance of knowledge for their current growth and future. It has been a great experience that I hope to continue within the Eagle Rock student population.
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About The Author: Alexus Bell is the 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo., where she is responsible for helping to educate, mentor and design programs for high school students who are actively reengaging themselves in their own education Alexus earned her undergraduate degree educational sciences at the University of California at Irvine.