Eagle Rock Alumni Return to Campus Teach Explore Week

After the first five weeks of classes at Eagle Rock School, students take a break from regular classes and participate in Explore Week — so named because it offers an opportunity for our students to explore outside interests in structured courses taught by guest instructors.

Instructors come to our mountainside campus from all over Colorado and across the country. Past instructors have included previous staff members, fellows, and other important members of the Eagle Rock community. Over the summer trimester, we welcomed back not one, not two, but three alumni: Charmaine Mitchell-Persens (she arrived at Eagle Rock as a student in the spring of 2002 — aka ER 27), Stephanie Sweets-Baldwin (winter 2001 — ER 23), and David Sanchez (winter 2010 — ER 53).

Charmaine and Stephanie were co-teachers for a course called Hair Care, Hair Design and Extension Wear. Of course it was one of the most popular courses during Explore Week and Stephanie and Charmaine were able to encourage self-discipline among the students.

Explore Week Course Eagle Rock School

For instance, students were asked to come prepared, which meant Continue reading…

Reporting on Another Successful Explore Week

The effects of our most recent Explore Week — that staple of the Eagle Rock School experience whereby our students have the opportunity to learn about careers, hobbies, art, music, physical pursuits and other offerings that may not necessarily fit into the daily academic curriculum — are now being felt here on campus.

The latest installment of this thrice-annual event took place June 20-24 with students vying for learning experiences related to earthen building, canoeing through Canyonlands National Park, music, poetry, beauty and hair care.

Eagle Rock School Explore Week

In addition to a few of our own instructional specialists, Explore Week offers experiences presented by instructors from the community and as you’ll see below, Eagle Rock School alumni — all highly experienced in what they do.

Here’s a short recap of courses and instructors from our most recent Explore Week:

For those musically inclined students with an interest in turning their words into lyrics, the Songwriting, Stories, and Live Performance course was the perfect opportunity to complete songs that they might have started writing and put aside or put time into new materials that they wanted to turn into song. The course included a lot of interaction, discussions, writing activities — all capped by live musical performances by the students, completed individually and sometimes collaboratively.

About the instructors — Eric Ian Farmer, Ph.D and Juan Torres: Farmer is no stranger to Eagle Rock. He served as an intern from the fall of 1999 through the summer of 2000, and was an Eagle Rock School instructional specialist from the fall of 2005 through the summer of 2008. Torres studied music at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and now plays with the Estes Park Jazz Big Band and teaches concert, jazz, and marching percussion at schools in the Estes Park School District.

Led by a pair of street poets, Poetry of Initiation: From Pain to Purpose was best described as a writing and performance course fueled by the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Radio Makes Waves During Explore Week

In the midst of each trimester here at Eagle Rock School, students break from their normal classes to engage in Explore Week, a weeklong exploration of new and diverse subject areas.

It’s a time when visiting educators from across the country descend upon our mountainside campus, bringing with them expertise in everything from holistic medicine to theater production to entrepreneurship.

During the most recent Explore Week this past February, some of our students had an exciting opportunity to learn the basics of radio production. Taught by Lisa Morehouse, an award-winning public radio journalist from the San Francisco Bay Area, a half dozen students explored how to record, edit and publish audio pieces.

Eagle Rock School Radio

In addition to the technological aspects of producing radio programming, the students analyzed pieces from SoundsLA, StoryCorps and Lisa’s own pieces on California Foodways to identify different styles of radio. Students also dissected specific sounds or tools that each piece used, such as Continue reading…

Explore Week — An Opportunity for Students to Go with the Flow

When we hear that someone is “in the zone,” or “on fire,” we know these terms are describing a person who is performing at his or her peak. Whether it’s the basketball player who hits 15 free throws in a row or a jazz drummer improvising complex patterns at breakneck speed, we recognize great skill when we see it.

However, what we might not realize is that the potential to achieve this state of being exists in every one of us. And unlocking this potential is possible given the right circumstances and application of willpower. In fact, by becoming concurrently relaxed, alert, focused and responsive, achieving Flow is a mental and physical condition allowing most of us to operate at the top of our abilities.

Learning how to go with the flow is the topic of just one of Eagle Rock School’s learning options underway this week (Feb. 22-26) both on and off campus. It’s all part of our Explore Week, an opportunity for students to explore a variety of topics that don’t start with the “three R’s” of “reading, writing and ’rithmatic.”

Eagle Rock Explore Week

Instead, our student population is participating in a week’s worth of education surrounding music, art, hobbies, sports, outdoor activities and other pursuits intended to expand the mind and body beyond regular classes.

We’re going to begin this list of course titles underway through Friday, including the above-mentioned “Go with the flow,” offering, as well as a short description of the instructors teaching these one-of-a-kind courses: Continue reading…

World Class Instructors Visit Eagle Rock for Explore Week

Did you know that throughout recorded history, humans have had an attraction and affinity for gemstones? People from kings, pharaohs, monarchs, and businessmen, to artisans, shamans, scientists, and commoners have honored the power of the stones and worked with them for various personal and spiritual purposes.

That’s just one of the many topics Eagle Rock School students learned about at the end of October during the latest installment of Eagle Rock Explore Week. Students had a chance to discover a variety of topics related to hobbies, music, art, sporting and outdoor activities and other pursuits intended to enrich our community and better their lives.

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The weeklong learning options had the added benefit of offering a slight break for many of our Instructional Specialists, so they can prepare for the rest of the trimester, while enabling students to pick up knowledge they’ve self-selected as being beneficial to the future.

We have listed the titles of some of these opportunities below, along with the name or names of the instructors involved: Continue reading…

Explore Week Adds New Meaning to the Term ‘Alternative Education’

Jimmy_FrickeyThis week at Eagle Rock School, we find ourselves once again immersed in Explore Week, a thrice annual offering of lectures, classroom experiences and events that have little to do with credits or curriculum leading to a high school diploma, and everything to do with engaging students in their own education.

This special week enables Eagle Rock School students the opportunity to look at different job choices, hobbies, art and music, trending exercise regimens and outdoor activities they may have never experienced in the past.

So, instead of wondering if you’d maybe like to take up rock climbing as a pastime, Explore Week gets you past the “future planning stage” and onto the mountainside, learning the ropes and helping each other reach the peak.

Explore Week is also an opportunity during this — an intentional week on the School’s schedule — for many of our instructors to catch up on future schoolwork. Meanwhile, students explore alternative learning options, with many of the instructors coming from outside the Eagle Rock faculty family.

Below is an offering of this week’s “classroom” opportunities that already have students doing everything from writing songs to creating their own robot:

Robotics
Instructors: Jacob Guggenheim and Daniela DiGiamcomo

Students in this Explore Week course create their own robot under the watchful eyes of MIT Engineer Jacob Guggenheim and University of Colorado Boulder Learning Scientist Daniela DiGiamcomo. Here, students are exploring the fascinating field of engineering by learning how to program and going on visits with local design experts. Taking a deep dive into the life cycle of design and iteration, they are constructing robots and navigating them through mazes and challenges that the class created and will showcase for the final day’s presentations.

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About the Instructors: Jacob is a first year masters student in mechanical engineering at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He originally became interested in engineering — and robotics in particular — when he joined his high school’s first robotics team. What really hooked Jacob into robotics was the ability to take a problem (how to kick a soccer ball) and build something that could do it. During college he sought out projects and research that would continue to allow him to tinker and play with new systems. Today he applies this same mindset —though backed with a significant amount of math and theory — to automating single cell micromanipulation.

Daniela is a third year doctoral candidate in educational psychology and learning sciences and ethnic studies. She is working as a research assistant for the MacArthur Foundation’s Connected Learning Research Network as well as for the Ford Foundation’s “More and Better Learning Time” national initiatives. Daniela is a graduate instructor for Continue reading…

Explore Week Students Credit Program — Even When No Credit is Offered

Three times each year, Eagle Rock brings classroom studies to a screeching halt for a week in order for students to “explore” a topic of interest, or gain skills in an specific area where they might want to make a future commitment.

Doing the math, that means the average Eagle Rock student studying here for nine or 10 trimesters before graduating will experience eight or 10 of these weeklong learning experiences.

That’s a respectable commitment of time and resources for our students to explore a range of topics that are completely divorced from the official curriculum that leads to graduation. And it’s a popular part of the learning that happens here at Eagle Rock — especially when you consider students don’t earn so much as a single credit for most Explore Week classes.

When it comes to Explore Week — perhaps more so than anything else on campus — learning becomes its own reward.

To get a sampling of the range of offerings, I’ve described below what was available during the most recent Explore Week during the week of Feb. 23-27: Continue reading…

Recapping the Events of Our Latest Explore Week

Our most recent Explore Week here at Eagle Rock served a pair of purposes. First, it enabled our instructors to catch their second wind and prepare for future coursework. Second, it gave our students the opportunity to be engaged in activities they normally wouldn’t have time for during the regular trimester.

Our latest such Explore Week was in late October, and our students were treated to a variety of classes and events that ranged from art expeditions to the stress-relieving benefits of beating on a drum. The week was highlighted with guest artists and speakers, as well as a few Eagle Rock staffers who just happen to have their own special interests that proved interesting enough to stir student interest.

Some of the activities conducted during Explore Week included:

  • Student leaders Ashalou and Aaron Simon were co-leaders for the 2014 Orientation Class for our newest students.
  • Students Emelia, Javonnie, Desiree, Cristian, Cat and Yeshra traveled with Cindy Elkins (Visual Art Instructional Specialist), Dayna Safferstein (Public Allies Visual Arts Fellow) and Niko Viglione Public Allies Human Performance Center Fellow) to Santa Fe, New Mexico, on an art expedition.
  • Criminal attorney William Galloway brought students Rahmel, Daisy, Melvin, Jenny, Aaron, Levi, DJ, Jared and Carson up to date on their rights as U.S. citizens. His presentations included preserving rights while interacting with the police, as well as the history behind some landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Through popular culture references — such as Jay-Z’s hit “99 Problems” — sprinkled with an abundance of courtroom “war stories,” Galloway turned the Bill of Rights and a couple of hundred years of Supreme Court decisions into an interesting and meaningful experience.
  • Estes Park Rotary Club members heard Eagle Rock students Hunter, Mikaela, Cassandra, Sonja, Kiyah, Marty and Khalil share their Continue reading…

Recapping the Events of Explore Week

Each and every trimester here at Eagle Rock, you can count on things slowing way down at the conclusion of the first five weeks of classes, We call this period of time Explore Week, and it gives our students the opportunity to check out careers, hobbies, colleges, art, music, physical fitness, the outdoors, and other offerings that may not necessarily fit into the daily academic curriculum.  

As an added bonus, our instructional staff gains a precious week to catch up on future coursework, because often it’s folks outside of Eagle Rock who teach the classes conducted during Explore Week. Of course, some of our staff and teaching fellows are in a position to forego some planning chores, instead bringing their personality and interests to the community in the form of their own Explore Week class.

Eagle-Rock-Explore-Week

At first, Explore Week was seen as a way to offer music and art to Eagle Rock students. However, since the school now boasts a strong musical and artistic program, class offerings have become more creative. Much more creative.

Past classes have included mock trials, barista training, Reiki certifications, Tablas, sewing, rock climbing, iPhone video production and stone masonry.

For this trimester’s Explore Week, there were a variety of on-campus and off-campus activities underway:

  • On-campus, Tobee and Derik worked hard wrapping up their graduation requirements since their big day is fast approaching.
  • Three other students — Jeremy, Nija’ah, and Jessy — studied and finished up projects in preparation for their graduation next trimester.

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

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…