This trimester’s five-day Explore Week is currently underway, with four course offerings that include jewelry making, woodworking, dance, and preparing for life after Eagle Rock School. Our campus in Estes Park, Colo., is nationally known for the quality of our progressive approach toward reengaging youth in their own education, and never are our educational offerings more exciting and well, non-traditional, than during Explore Week.
That acknowledgement of excellence has a lot to do with the subject matter, which — in past trimesters — has included helpful real-life topics such as balancing a budget, wilderness first aid, and video production. Just as important, and perhaps a bit more fun, are course offerings that instruct students in salsa dancing, whitewater rafting, or using improv poetry to communicate.
But the main ingredient for all of these courses is the instructors, each one sought out and invited to relate their own expertise and life experiences on the topics they know best. Our staff go to great lengths to attract these educational guides for each of the unique courses offered during Explore Week. Many of the instructors, as you’ll see below, have no teaching background — at least in the traditional sense. However, each has a passion for their particular skill or calling, and with a little persuasion of our staff’s part, we ask these diverse individuals to take a week off and share that passion and knowledge with our students.
That being said, below we are introducing each of these instructors for current edition Explore Week, as well as a little about each course itself:
Jewelry-making and Metal embossing — Vickie Mastron is the instructor for this course, where students are learning basic jewelry making techniques and will produce a number of pieces of jewelry, including earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Vickie took her first ceramics class in college and was instantly hooked, drawn in by the process, the chemistry, and the physical and molecular changes that take place with glazing and firing.
During her undergraduate years, she studied under numerous renowned ceramic artists, including Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner and Jerry Rothman. Upon graduating from Cal State Fullerton, Vickie was awarded a teaching scholarship at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Intermedia Sculpture.
A glassblower’s wife introduced her to bead making, which enabled her to work with molten glass and painting with glass.
“I loved it from the first moment I picked up a mandrel and have been hooked ever since,” she says. “Bead making allows me the opportunity to work with molten glass, only on the miniature scale of a bead.”
Mastron expanded her use of beads beyond jewelry and into a realm of mixed media pieces combining glass, clay and metal. Her Eagle Rock students are learning the fundamentals of metal embossing, using sheet metal aluminum and sheet metal copper, and are getting to create embossed, relief images that are being utilized as elements for mobiles.
Woodworking — Bill Cody is himself an accomplished designer, builder and wood worker with 38 years of experience designing and building things from log homes to guitars. He has designed and built exotic log circular and spiral stairs, one winning the “best log stair” award from the National Stair Builder’s Association.
Bill also has extensive knowledge of furniture and cabinet making. Last year, he created a rosewood-bodied dreadnought guitar with custom mother of pearl inlay for his son.
Students in Bill’s Explore Week course are designing and crafting an artistic wood framed mirror with a shelf. They are preparing their own lumber by planing and straight-edging rough sawn alder which they will then rabbet, cut to shape and assemble using glue and dowels and mortised lap joints. They will then drill recesses for the mirror mounting hardware and mount the mirror. Frames will receive a hand-rubbed Tung oil finish.
Hip Hop Dance —Thomas “Tjay” Martino and Edgar Viloria are teaching a dance course this week that shows students how to utilize dance as a form of expression and communication. The course is based on the premise that each movement is telling a story, and that the story can go wherever a body is willing to go.
Tjay and Edgar are part of a team that founded Thr3e Live Dance Company, an organization on a mission to create an environment where dancers of any style and people of all walks of life can create, spectate, entertain, pursue or experience dance. Both men have performed at multiple international dance competitions, including World of Dance (WOD) New Jersey, WOD Boston, and Monsters of Hip-Hop. They also appear in the 2016 film Ghostbusters 3.
Tjay and Edgar teach hip-hop at schools all over New England, work with organizations such as Providence After SchoolAlliance (PASA), CityArts, and Smart Test. They have also taught at Keene State University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the University of Kentucky.
College, Career and Life Skills — A total of nine instructors have been handpicked for this course, where students create and start to work on plans for their futures, which includes preparing for graduation and life after Eagle Rock. These experienced educators are discussing college and job applications, resume-building, applying for scholarships, completing a life skills portfolio, and even prepping for SAT/ACT testing.
Instructors for this valuable course include:
- Dan Hoffman, an Eagle Rock Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist who earned his undergraduate degree at Occidental College in Los Angeles, his teaching license from Prescott College in Arizona, and his Principal’s License from the Principals Institute in Boulder Colorado.
- Felicia Walker is our 2018/2019 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Residence Life. After studying Animal Sciences Pre-Veterinary at Kansas State University, she pursued a career in student development and residence life, which led to a Masters’ degree in Student Affairs Administration while simultaneously holding a position as a Hall Director at University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
- Anastacia Galloway Reed has served Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in a variety of capacities since 2011, from Registrar to Professional Development Associate. After graduating in 2008 from West Virginia University with degrees in business and world language, Anastacia moved to Villahermosa in Mexico where she interned for a marketing and advertising company.
- Beth Ellis is Eagle Rock’s Associate Director of Students, arriving on campus after success as a graphic designer in Ohio. Beth earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning.
- Zachary Greimann is our 2018/2019 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Math. He grew up in Iowa City, went to St. Olaf College in Minnesota where he studied math and English, and most recently left Chicago after spending a year there as a math instructor.
- Brett Youngerman, Eagle Rock’s Literacy & Literature Instructional Specialist, pursued his Master of Arts in Teaching at Towson University in Maryland. Brett moved West and worked for two years as an Eagle Rock Fellow before becoming an Instructional Specialist.
- Doen Lee is another 2018/2019 Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow, coming here from an Upward Bound program where she worked as an adviser. Doen has worked with community/nonprofit organizations such as Kids Forward, Wisdom Culture and Education Organization, Centro Hispano, and United Way of Dane County. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in community and nonprofit leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as certificates in Educational Policy and Educational Services.
- Jesús Galvan, Eagle Rock’s 2018/2019 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Residential Life, recently received his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This past summer, Jesús was in Guayaquil, Ecuador, teaching English for El Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano.
- Taylor Warren is Eagle Rock’s 2018/19 Public Allies Fellow in Health, Wellness & Counseling. She attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, before transferring to Sam Houston State University where she pursued a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Clinical Exercise Science and a minor in Health Fitness. She will confer her degree upon finishing her service year.
As you can see, the nine instructors who are tactically weaving their way in and out of the College, Career and Life Skills course have a variety of life and work experiences. And since Explore Week is as much about giving (i.e., respect, instruction, and guidance) as it is taking (i.e., recommendations, feedback, and fellowship), students in the course are surrounded by supportive and highly successful role models, some of whom themselves will you tell you that they too were not the most engaged student while in high school.
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Editor’s Note: If after reading this post you feel like you may have something to offer our students during an upcoming Explore Week on our campus in Estes Park, Colo., please send an email message to Annie Kelston at: akelston at eaglerockschool dot org.