Eagle Rock School Moves Online for the Time of COVID-19

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Amid the growing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19’s presence in the United States, Eagle Rock School administrators have called for “all hands on deck” to prepare and deliver virtual learning experiences for staff and students through the remainder of the Spring 2020 trimester (known as ER 80 — the 80th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s).

Our connection to the virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes — named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — began in February, when we began closely watching the news and developments around the virus. On March 10, the decision was made have all Eagle Rock School students return to their homes, supported by a plan for remote learning and ongoing student support.

We immediately knew that communication would be important as our students spread out to their homes across the country. Beth Ellis, Associate Director of Students, spearheaded a virtual hub to centralize communication, learning options, instructions for virtual communication, staff contact info, and other resources students may use throughout this now-virtual trimester.

Staff identified ways to make distance learning a reality for our students while maintaining an approach that is engaging, reflective of our experiential learning approach, and accessible across students’ various situations. Our school team began this undertaking by committing to students that they would indeed be able to earn the credits for which they were enrolled when they were on campus. We created new credit-bearing opportunities that we named learning experiences.

Beth Ellis, along with other staff members, fleshed out a website, after which Sarah Bertucci, Director of Professional Development and former Director of Curriculum, facilitated building the learning opportunities alongside our instructional specialists and Public Allies Fellows.

The learning opportunities for the rest of the trimester include two Power Standard classes, which are high-yield credits that take place over a period of 10 weeks, as well as several shorter learning experiences that will change each week. Students who have already enrolled in Power Standard classes will continue to earn these significant credits.

Here are the offerings: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Place in Place-based Education

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When “place-based education” was coined back in the early 1990s by Laurie Lane-Zucker of The Orion Society and Dr. John Elder of Middlebury College, ground had already been broken for our campus here in Estes Park, Colo.

And when author and American educator David Sobel — credited with developing the philosophy of place-based education — wrote Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities in 2004, we here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, were 10-plus years into our use of place-based education as a pedagogy used in the progressive effort to reengage youth in their own education.

It’s no wonder then that a number of recent publications have cited our unique school and professional development center with regard to the advancement of place-based education.

Understanding Place-based Education

In the simplest of terms, the idea of place-based education revolves around connecting learning to a student’s surroundings. In the case of our school, that notion encompasses our classrooms, meeting halls, living quarters, and thousands upon thousands of acres that surround our campus, snuggled up to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

The challenge for our instructional specialists is to turn the surrounding towns, parks, buildings and history into myriad lessons of learning, building and nourishing pride in the communities in which our students find themselves. It is a directive that asks our student body to focus on real issues within the places where they learn, travel through, and live.

At its core, place-based learning connects students to Continue reading…

Job Opening Announced: Language & Literacy Instructional Specialist

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If you have experience as a high school English teacher and are enthusiastic about expanding a progressive high school’s language and literacy offerings and devising curriculum that is relevant — and interesting — to a diverse student body, we’d like to hear from you. That’s because we’re currently conducting a nationwide search for a Language & Literacy Instructional Specialist with experience in CES Common Principles, Big Picture Learning, Expeditionary Learning or similar schools of thought within the progressive approach to education.

Formal qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in English, Language Arts, Literacy, or a related field, with a master’s degree preferred. Candidates should also have teaching experience in a variety of course designs and program models; be culturally competent; possess strong organizational and leadership skills; and have extensive experience designing multi-cultural curriculum and working with diverse adolescents.

In short, we’re seeking well-rounded candidates who have experience or knowledge of interdisciplinary curriculum design, experiential education, project-based learning, literacy across the curriculum, and the Understanding by Design framework for curriculum design, assessment, and teaching.

Specifically, we are looking for an enthusiastic educator to join our instructional team to create and deliver innovative curriculum, lead an instructional focus on literacy, and create empowering and creative opportunities for students who have expressly chosen — some for the first time — to be engaged in their own education, to explore and learn more about themselves as learners, both in the classroom and out in the real world.

We want our new Language & Literacy Instructional Specialist to be able to develop, implement, and oversee the Eagle Rock School English curriculum, and expand the school’s current program, tailoring it to engage our students in literacy opportunities outside of class time.

And, speaking of our student body, candidates for this position must be willing to Continue reading…

COVID-19 Information and Resources for Educators

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Here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, the health and wellbeing of our students and staff is one of our primary focuses. With that in mind, like many other educational organizations across the nation, we’ve been closely monitoring the most recent information and guidance related to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-2019).

In response to rapidly evolving COVID-19 circumstances — and in consultation with state and national agencies — we have placed restrictions on our own students’ and staff members’ travel plans, as well as visitor restrictions to our Estes Park, Colo. campus.

We’ve also increased our diligence around our own campus in the areas of cleaning and sanitizing, and we’ve mounted a campaign to encourage healthier habits.

With all of this in mind, our own students returned to their homes earlier this week, each armed with a plan in place for supporting remote learning beginning Monday, March 23. In this way, our students can stay on track with their academic progress while at home. We anticipate starting our summer trimester as previously planned — on May 11.

If you and your educational organization are searching for guidance like we were, we recommend the following 10 resources, all of which are available now online: Continue reading…

Tracking Explore Week Through Discovery, Creating, and Playing

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Three times each year, our student population looks forward to unique and challenging course offerings within the context of Explore Week — a period of time providing a respite of sorts from classroom participation, enabling our students to learn and experience from a variety of less traditional offerings.

This time around, students picked one track from a selection of three for their Explore Week activities, which took place the week of Feb. 24. The idea was to provide students with some excitement, experience, spark, and fun by doing things they aren’t able to do on campus.

Students selected one track and stuck with that track for the duration of the week. Their choices included a discover track, a create track, and a play track. And while you may think the majority of students choose the play track, it turns out, students who are committed to engaging themselves in their education can be trusted to find value in whatever they choose to engage in.

In this post, we describe the activities in which students participated, starting with the discover track: Continue reading…

Music & Performance Instructor Sought for Deeply Creative Students

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Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center (PDC) is seeking a music & performance instructional specialist who can help high school students committed to engaging themselves in their own education build confidence and express themselves — sometimes before an audience — through music and performance.

In addition to leading our school’s music program, our next Music & Performance Instructional Specialist will be asked to deliver innovative curriculum and oversee student theatrical performances. Specifically, we’re searching for someone with a number of advanced skills, including vocal technique; piano (the ability to play contemporary and popular music, improvise over chord changes and read written music); music theory and ear training; American contemporary and popular music performance; teach voice, piano, guitar, bass, and drums; as well as direct a theater production team.

Our best candidates for this unique opening will also have a basic understanding of technical theater (lighting design, sound design, set construction, props, and costumes); be able to teach non-Western music (knowledge of Latin music and ability to speak Spanish is a plus); and be able to instruct students on basic digital music and sound recording software.

Specific duties and responsibilities include:

Class Spotlight: Sports Conditioning

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This trimester, six Eagle Rock students are enrolled in a 10-week class named Sports Conditioning. Instructed by Human Performance Center Adjunct Instructor Christ Iafrati and our 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Science & Math Chelsea Ehret, this class focuses on helping students develop and implement their own individualized workout plans. They’re also learning the physiology behind athletic conditioning and nutrition.

Successfully completing this 10-week class qualifies students for a ‘Creating Healthy Life Choices’ Power Standard. (For more on Power Standards, please read The Role of Power Standards in this Trimester’s Class Offerings.) That’s because this class combines content from biology, physical education, and statistics, it additionally qualifies students to receive additional experience and points required for graduation.

As an interdisciplinary class, students split time between the Aikido Dojo — located within our on-campus Human Performance Center (HPC) for the fitness component — and on the HPC stage for the traditional classroom component.

In the Dojo, students work out using weight machines, cardio equipment, and the Aikido mats. During these times, they’re engage in a variety of workouts that are meaningful to them, such as high-intensity interval training, yoga, Pilates, and resistance training.

Additionally, students have routine times where they Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School is Searching for a Math Instructional Specialist

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If you possess a bachelor’ or master’s degree in mathematics, math education, or a related field, and you have a sincere interest in teaching math concepts and skills to high school students who have a history of not doing well in traditional schools — but who have recently committed themselves to becoming engaged in their own education — we might have a teaching position that is right up your algebraic alley.

Eagle Rock is a full-service not-for-profit educational reform organization that operates a year-round residential high school in Estes Park, Colo., and offers professional development services at school and community sites around the United States. In short, we’re committed to making high school a more engaging and inclusive experience and we’re noted for hiring instructors who work together in order to provide relevant learning experiences for our students.

To get a clearer picture of what we’re all about, it might help to visit our website — EaglerockSchool.org — where you’ll discover that our approach to learning isn’t limited to the traditional school day, nor do our mathematic experiences always take place in a traditional classroom environment.

Our progressive education model is based on an inherent trust of students. And to be honest, Eagle Rock doesn’t appeal to all teachers. For instance, if you think students need to be “taught math lessons,” we’re probably not your best option. Truth is, we’re looking for a math instructor who has Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Now Recruiting Next Cohort of Public Allies Fellows

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Today’s post focuses on our search for candidates that will comprise the 2020/2021 cohort of fellows in the Public Allies Eagle Rock program. If you’re unfamiliar with the program, Public Allies Fellowship at Eagle Rock is a residential, community-based service opportunity for individuals who are passionate about alternative approaches to teaching and learning, as well as social justice, youth development and empowerment, and re-engaging high-school students in their own education.

The program — now in its 19th year — allows 13 individuals to serve as fellows in the broad categories of teaching, student services, or professional development (see below more information on each position).  Fellows help build our capacity to better serve our students and our national mission of supporting high school student re-engagement.

Public Allies Fellows Eagle Rock

Additionally, while living and working at Eagle Rock, fellows participate in a rigorous leadership development program, on-going training and community-building activities, and design and deliver team service projects, all of which help individual cohort members grow as leaders.

2020/2021 Fellowship Openings

Applicants for our next cohort of fellows — which runs from Sept. 2020 through Aug. 2021 — offers opportunities for 13 paid positions within three categories. These include: Continue reading…

Milestone Democratic School Highlights Our Latest PDC Work

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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…