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…

Eagle Rock School Begins its 80th Trimester with Engaging Class Offerings

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Just as it has been for the last 79 trimesters here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, students are once again immersed in classes that challenge their minds, improve their life skills, and present new ways of learning.

In this, our 80th trimester since the school was founded in the early 1990s, students made their selections from an assortment of class offerings, ranging this time around from exploring the probability and statistics of a dice game, to exploring personality traits through literature and the lens of a camera.

If you are familiar with our 10 Commitments for students attending our non-traditional school, you’ll run across the values that our students are committed to live by. In particular, they are asked to develop their minds through intellectual discipline, their bodies through physical fitness, and their spirits through thoughtful contemplation. As you’ll see below, our curriculum continues this approach of presenting educational experiences that add actual practical value to our graduates’ lives after they leave our mountainside campus and re-immerse themselves in the real world.

That being said, below are descriptions of a half dozen or so of the new classes available in this trimester. And please look here again in a month or so to see a synopsis of the remaining classes being offered this trimester:

The Game of Pig: Pig is a competitive dice game, and Interim Math instructional specialist Stephany Subdiaz is teaching her students the best approaches for this game of chance. Through numbers and probability, students are analyzing real life situations and games.

By the end of this five-week class, they’ll be able to figure out complex probabilities, the likelihood of basketball free throw percentages, and have designed their own games of chance — where they’re likely to win or at least come out ahead more often than not.

But Then You Read: The title of this class comes from James Baldwin, who once said Continue reading…

Neuroscience Students Expound on Findings During Eagle Rock TED Talk

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In the final trimester of 2019, a half dozen Eagle Rock School students participated in a unique class offering called “Neuroscience,” that put its full focus on functions of the human brain — that mysterious grey-hued organ that is crowded inside each of our skulls.

This 10-week class was taught by our science instructional specialist Sara Benge and Chelsea Ehret, our 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science & Math, with the purpose of exploring the anatomy, physiology, and habits of the human nervous system.

In addition to discovering how different parts of the brain and nervous system work together to allow us to perform day-to-day duties ranging from doing the dishes to, well, breathing, the class also focused on how the system affects our personal lives.

TED Talk Eagle Rock School
(Image © Sara Elise Benge)

Specifically, students enrolled in the class learned how the human nervous system responds to our personal surroundings and experiences. Students’ conducted experiments, collected data, and then analyzed that information in order to determine how the brain has an impact on our decision-making and health. Perhaps even more important, they learned how  Continue reading…

Utah’s Rugged Desert Areas Host 7 Eagle Rock Student Explorers

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For a full month last trimester, we offered a new experiential outdoor adventure-based course for sevenveteran Eagle Rock School students — a wilderness course that entailed navigating inner and outer landscapes in the pristine desert areas of Utah.

We approached this exploration by focusing on three modalities of backcountry travel — backpacking, climbing, and rafting — which ultimately offered ample opportunities for participants to learn more about themselves nature, and where the two intersect. In addition to a human-powered outdoor adventure, students engaged in a rigorous academic experiences that included creative non-fiction writing and ecological earth science.

Among our group were students Angel Resendiz, Ay’Niah Rochester, Carter Raymond, Dauntay Acosta, Jacob Israel, Sequoia Masters, and Xavier Hagood-Edmeade. Support came from our amazing instructor team, which included Jack Bynum (Adjunct Outdoor Education Instructor), Leila Ayad (our 2017/2018 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Outdoor Education), and Amelia la Plante Horne (our current Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Outdoor Education, and Eagle Rock graduate). And as you’ll read later in this post, we connected toward the end of our trip with Nia Dawson (Student Services Program Manager).

We also had support from Song Candea, a snowboard instructor at Steamboat Resort and Eagle Rock graduate who has assisted us on our wilderness classes for several years, and myself — Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist Eliza Kate Wicks-Arshack.

And, following a week on campus to ground ourselves in the course curriculum, and packing for the trip, we headed to the desert.

Our course began with a seven-day loop in Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. Our route took us down the Twenty-Five Mile Wash, then 14 miles to the Escalante River, and up and out of Scorpion Gulch. We backpacked down massive slick rock domes, bushwhacked through forests of invasive tamarisk (a small shrub that the USGS says “favors sites that are inhospitable to native stream-side plants…”), waded down the frigid water in the Escalante River, and exited the canyon via a  Continue reading…