Reflecting on Eagle Rock’s Past and Looking Ahead to the New Decade

The holiday break is drawing to a close and here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, our instructors, staff, administrators, and students will be trickling back onto campus next week as the New Year — and a new decade — get underway.

Recently, there has been a flurry of debate on social sites claiming the new decade doesn’t officially begin until next Jan.1, but proponents of that notion forget that there was no Year Zero when the current era began more than 2,000 years ago. As a result, some may feel that all decades, centuries, and Millenia begin with Year 1.

(Photo by David W. Riggs | Sourced from Unsplash)

Now that we have put that silly debate to rest, here’s a quick look at Eagle Rock’s past, and what the future holds for our school and Professional Development Center (PDC).

Back in the spring of 1989, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. contributed ideas and funds for what would become the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center. Its vision was for an educational organization that would focus the interest of young people on community, integrity, and citizenship. And it targeted youth who weren’t exactly fitting into the mold demanded in a traditional high school setting.

In addition, through close coordination with other school districts and educational organizations, our PDC team was tasked with  Continue reading…

Rock Climbing Embodies the Spirit of Eagle Rock Commitment No. 2

If you’ve spent any time at all on our campus, you’re probably somewhat familiar with our values and in particular, our 8+5=10, values.

Broken down, these values include eight themes that ensure we stay true to Eagle Rock School’s essence and mission. The five expectations create the framework that makes up our classes. And the 10 commitments are the values our students strive to internalize and live by.

From among all of these fundamentals, my favorite is Commitment Two, which asks us to develop our minds through intellectual discipline, our bodies through physical fitness, and our spirits through thoughtful contemplation.

To me, rock climbing is the total embodiment of that commitment. Because climbing a vertical wall of outcroppings requires mind, body and spirit to reach the top — and that holds true for even the most worn gym climb.

Rock-Climbing-Eagle-Rock-School

One of my duties as Eagle Rock School’s Public Allies Fellow in Outdoor Education is taking several of our students to the indoor climbing gym at the nearby Estes Park Mountain Shop. Our most dedicated climbers are Continue reading…

Understanding Eagle Rock School’s 10 Commitments

Editor’s Note (by Eliza Kate Wicks-Arshack, Adjunct Outdoor Education Instructor): We place much emphasis on values here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, and these fundamentals are centered on what we call “Eight Plus Five Equals Ten.” These values include the eight themes, the five expectations, and the 10 commitments. The eight themes ensure we stay true to our school’s essence and mission, and the five expectations create the framework for our academic classes. It’s the 10 commitments that we explore in this post — the values our students strive to internalize and live by. In fact, this post is an exploration of the 10 commitments by students who first arrived at Eagle Rock in late-January of 2017 (officially known as ER 70). These students conducted interviews with staff and peers to gather different perspectives on the meaning of the commitments, and created a short video showing each of the 10 Commitments in action. Below the video, which appears next, is their take on each of these values, along with a graphical display of each one.

 

Commitment One — Live in respectful harmony with people of all races, cultures, religions, genders and sexual identities, some of whom will have disabilities or different learning styles:

“In this commitment, I learned a variety of things. Conducting interviews and trying to understand others’ interviews lead me to believe that living in respectful harmony is something the majority of people desire. Here at Eagle Rock School we try to understand each other and respect each other’s morals and values. Although we still have room to grow, I think our community is doing pretty well. We should hold each other accountable and hold each other to higher expectations. And we are expected to understand each other’s boundaries. These are things that can be useful to us in the future. To me it means that you dedicate yourself to something that benefits you and others in order to live in respectful harmony. “ — Xycelline Serafin

1 Priscilla Poster

“I too chose this commitment because I think it is important for the community and for myself to feel understood and feel comfortable being who you are without being judged. I believe that being who you are shouldn’t affect the way people treat you and that everyone should have compassion for each other’s mistakes.  I found this commitment to be important because it can make a huge impact on the community if we start living by it. This commitment is also another way to begin respecting other people, no matter the race, sexual identity, background, or age difference. Living in respectful harmony plays out in the Eagle Rock School community when it comes to gatherings and other activities in the community.”  — Priscilla Ramirez Perez

Commitment Two — Develop my mind through intellectual discipline, my body through physical fitness, and my spirit through thoughtful contemplation:

“In order for me to really get an idea of what this commitment means, I had to interview some fellow Eagle Rock School students and staff. This commitment honestly is my absolute favorite, and I’m so glad it’s something we have to follow because we only have Continue reading…

Expanding Knowledge Base as Part of Eagle Rock’s 5 Expectations

We expect a lot from students here at Eagle Rock School, and we make no bones about ensuring these expectations are understood and accepted. In fact, we even call them the “5 Expectations” so that every student leaves here as a productive, engaged citizen, ready and willing to make a difference in the world.

Among these five expectations are:

  1. Learning to communicate effectively
  2. Expanding one’s knowledge base
  3. Become an engaged citizen
  4. Acquiring leadership skills in order to achieve justice
  5. Creating healthy life choices

Today we’re going to focus on No. 2 of these expectations: Expanding Knowledge Base.

One of our expectations for all Eagle Rock students is that they will acquire the skills necessary to become independent learners and problem solvers. Traditional math and English courses often fall within this expectation.

In our math classes, this expectation is usually tied to a specific content area such as algebra, geometry, probability, statistics or calculus. Within these areas, many math courses at Eagle Rock revolve around specific real-world situations. For example, exploring gambling games and how probability factors into that casino floor equation. Others include how to research and interpret (data analysis), how to predict outcomes (statistics), and how to hide things (cryptography).

Within many of Becky Poore’s math classes, final projects are assigned for the purpose of assessing what’s been learned and offering students the opportunity to demonstrate and showcase the skills they’ve acquired. For the gambling example above, from a math class on probability, students are expected to expand their knowledge base by creating their own game of chance.

In other math classes, students are tasked with Continue reading…

Connecting Wilderness Field Experiences to Academic Success

As frequent readers of the Eagle Rock Blog may already know, the Eagle Rock School New Student Wilderness Orientation Course is a staple rite of passage in the Eagle Rock student experience. All new students, since the founding of the school in the early-1990s, are challenged to start out their Eagle Rock experience by leaving behind the comforts of modern society and heading out into the wilderness for 24 days with a small group of strangers/fellow incoming students.

They are required to sleep on the ground, cook their own food, face the challenges that Mother Nature presents, and deal with all of the issues that arise in small group living. On top of that, these students are challenged to take a deep look at themselves, working on self-awareness, self-control, effective communication and tools that will help them to be successful in the Eagle Rock community.

Our wilderness courses follow a typical Outward Bound type model (backpacking, rock-climbing, solo, service, etc.) where the group — focusing on personal growth and development — gradually builds towards more independence from the instructor team. But we differ dramatically from most outdoor programs in that this is truly an orientation program with the primary focus of preparing students for both the academic and student living experience on campus.

Eagle Rock School Wilderness Orientation

Literally everything we do during the first five weeks of the new student experience should be focused on helping these novice Eagle Rock School students to achieve success in their time here.

When new students arrive, their first week is packed full of the Eagle Rock experience. They are expected to fully engage and participate from Day One. The intention of having a full week on campus is for the students to fully understand what they are getting into. That time also provides our wilderness instructors the opportunity to observe these “newbies” and have something to draw from later when Continue reading…