Its been a long time since I’ve thought about my own primary and secondary educational experience. However, it all came back during a three day period at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado.
Since becoming a high school teacher in 2004, I’ve followed Eagle Rock because of their innovative approach towards education. With my return to the educational field through Noble Institute, I knew Eagle Rock was a place I needed to visit…to get a grasp of what’s new in high school curriculum. Especially because of their commitment to infusing public service across all aspects of their approach.
So, I arrived on a Monday morning and the agenda for my three day stay was masterfully planned by Dan Condon, Associate Director of the Professional Development Center. In all reality, he framed my stay as a student and put me in situations that allowed me to see, hear, and feel their approach. I gained significant insight to their innovative teaching strategies that resulted in high level student engagement.
Their campus and facilities are awesome, but the best part was getting to know the students. A big portion of my visit was engaging with them, watching their interactions with teachers, and being part of the culture. I even got to play basketball (my favorite sport) with some of them one evening!
It didn’t take long to understand that the Eagle Rock education approach was student driven. In fact, the curriculum is constantly changing, with new titles to courses being pitched to the students every 5-10 weeks. Not only is that good for the students but it’s equally as challenging to the teachers. This approach allows the teachable content to stay real and relevant, which keeps the students engaged.
Throughout each day, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with great instructors about pedagogy, philosophies, and purpose. I was also included in a faculty instructional meeting where they provided each other feedback on possible upcoming courses to be offered.
All this was made possible through the Professional Development Center and I knew by the second day that it would be a great partnership for Noble Institute. The mission of their work is vital to challenging the status quo on the way we teach at a high school level…or the way we “should” teach.
The experience was awesome and it made me realize that I was never really engaged as a student until I went to get my masters degree at the Clinton School of Public Service. It was there that I became engaged with the process because it was real and relevant, purposeful and passionate…which should be the same model for high schools.
As one of the students told me in passing, “School didn’t do anything for me until I came to Eagle Rock.”
When and how did you engage in your education for the first time?
So many people who visit Eagle Rock report similar experiences. Many say, “I wish I had had an education like that at Eagle Rock.