New House Parents Settling in at Ponderosa House and Spruce House

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We’re not sure if it’s the result of good luck, or skill, or just longtime experience, but it seems every time we have the need for a new house parent for one of our six student housing complexes here at Eagle Rock School, we always end up with staff members who are perfectly suited for the role.

Each of the six houses within our on-campus Living Village accommodates up to a dozen co-eds in two separate sleeping wings, with common areas and shared community values being the focus in between. And our house parents are there to support the community, act as a sounding board, make sure the house chores are done, and so, so, so much more.

That being said, we are proud to introduce new house parents taking over this trimester at Ponderosa and Spruce.

Elizabeth Rivera and Carlos Perez are new house parents at Ponderosa House but not new to Eagle Rock. This married couple arrived in Estes Park in the fall of 2017 from Miami, where Elizabeth worked in the hotel and hospitality industry for more than two decades, and Carlos served as a cook at a variety of Italian, American, and Latin restaurants for more than 15 years.

Elizabeth is originally from Lima, Peru, and Carlos hails from Maracay, Venezuela. At Eagle Rock, Elizabeth is a business office administrative assistant, assisting parents and students with such issues as student insurance and student banking, among others. She also works alongside our finance manager and human resources and administration manager.

Carolos is one of our cook instructors, teaching Eagle Rock students the tasks and techniques involved in participating in kitchen patrol, including meal preparation and cleanup.

Elizabeth and Carlos replace Literacy and Literature Instructional Specialist Dan Hoffman and his wife Catherine Packer as Ponderosa’s house parents. Dan has been named assistant director of student experiences at STEM School — Highlands Ranch, and we thank Dan, along with his wife and their daughter Sienna, for being such amazing members of our on-campus community.

Jocelyn Rodriguez is taking the helm at Spruce House, in addition to her duties as Eagle Rock’s athletic director. In that position, Jocelyn helps design, plan and instruct classes focused on educating students about healthy life choices. In addition, she assists with intramurals, coaching students during morning exercises, and assisting in other campus recreation activities.

Jocelyn was born in Wilmington, Delaware, where she worked at the Latin American Community Center in high school, developing a passion for providing positive mentorship with students. After high school, Jocelyn remained in Delaware for college, where she attended Wilmington University and played point guard for the school’s NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball team. Check back next week for details on Jocelyn, who will be featured in our next Meet the Team post.

Departing Spruce House are Meg Tokunaga-Scanlon and her husband, Juan Torres. Meg is headed off to grad school at University of Northern Colorado — Greeley to study Educational Leadership. She was our Music Instructional Specialist from Sept. 2014 until Aug. 2019.

Juan studied music at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, taught courses during our Explore Week offerings, and played in the Pit Orchestra for our Spring 2015 musical “Spring Awakening” while also teaching at Estes Park High School. He is now teaching in Plano, TX.

Welcoming our new house parents gives us the opportunity to tout our approach to on-campus student housing, which is intended to create a family atmosphere in which students can feel comfortable, safe, and a part of a smaller family within the larger Eagle Rock community.

This atmosphere requires responsibility, which is why students participate in house chores and becoming actively involved in house meetings and intramural sports activities that see friendly but serious competitions. Among the memories of Eagle Rock that our students share upon graduation and beyond are the friendships developed through long hours of conversation and activities with fellow roommates, peers and — go figure — house parents.

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