New House Parents Settling in at Ponderosa House and Spruce House

We’re not sure if it’s the result of good luck, or skill, or just longtime experience, but it seems every time we have the need for a new house parent for one of our six student housing complexes here at Eagle Rock School, we always end up with staff members who are perfectly suited for the role.

Each of the six houses within our on-campus Living Village accommodates up to a dozen co-eds in two separate sleeping wings, with common areas and shared community values being the focus in between. And our house parents are there to support the community, act as a sounding board, make sure the house chores are done, and so, so, so much more.

That being said, we are proud to introduce new house parents taking over this trimester at Ponderosa and Spruce.

Elizabeth Rivera and Carlos Perez are new house parents at Ponderosa House but not new to Eagle Rock. This married couple arrived in Estes Park in the fall of 2017 from Miami, where Elizabeth worked in the hotel and hospitality industry for more than two decades, and Carlos served as a cook at a variety of Italian, American, and Latin restaurants for more than 15 years.

Elizabeth is originally from Lima, Peru, and Carlos hails from Maracay, Venezuela. At Eagle Rock, Elizabeth is a business office administrative assistant, assisting parents and students with Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Continues to Place the Focus on Literacy and Literature

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~ James Baldwin (American novelist, playwright, and activist)

For more than five decades, educators throughout the United States have taken Baldwin’s comments to heart, stressing the importance of reading and words to allow students to navigate their future.

Poet Edgar Kunz visits Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colo.

And, indeed, literacy and literature — which we believe helps students unleash their imaginations, relate to the world around them, and actualize their literacy skills — is forefront in the curriculum at Eagle Rock School, with hands-on experiences such as the one I am attempting to pass on to my students this trimester. Called Adventure Writing, this is the latest class delivered through an experiential education context that emphasizes the importance of reading and writing.

Most recently, a class called Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Wax Poetic at National Poetry Slam

A half-dozen of our Eagle Rock School students, along with three staff mentors, have just returned from a national youth poetry festival at the University of Houston in Houston, Tex., and while we didn’t walk away with any major trophies or prizes, the reward came in helping each of our students find and display their own voice.

Called the 2018 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, the annual event brings more than 500 young poets — along with their educator mentors — all joining up with some the nation’s leading spoken-word artists and cultural workers to take a deep dive into arts education, artistic expression, and civic engagement.

BraveNewVoices

Brave New Voices is a national youth poetry festival sponsored by Youth Speaks, an organization that has long championed what is becoming a global movement of young people finding safe places to discover, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of social change.

Participating students do this through the intersection of arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement, and quality artistic presentation.

Dan Hoffman, Eagle Rock’s Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist — and a Ponderosa House Parent— did most of the heavy lifting at the local level, coordinating the Continue reading…

Spring 2017 Update from the Professional Development Center

Since beginning my Public Allies Fellowship with Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center last fall, I have taken note of the many traits that make our professional development team so successful.

As background, the Professional Development Center team is charged with executing on a mission to support schools (we refer to them as “partners”) around the country to increase high school student engagement. What is not well known is that the team provides those services to our partners at no cost to them, and our team consists of just four facilitators who regularly provide our services. This presents an interesting challenge as we cannot increase our headcount despite the ever-increasing demand for our services.

Professional-Development-Center-Update-Eagle-Rock

To meet that challenge, the team has developed a set of practices characterized by working smarter rather than harder. Hallmarks of the team’s practice include organization, efficiency, and constant communication among staffers. Everyone understands what the goals are for each trimester and how their portfolio of partners needs to be shaped for maximum impact.

In normal circumstances, observing such traits among a high-functioning team should be a simple matter. But circumstances here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center are not normal, with all six members of the professional development team constantly Continue reading…

One Eagle Rock School Instructor’s Philosophy on Education

As a house parent at Eagle Rock School, I frequently have students over to watch movies on Friday nights. Recently, we opted for a viewing of School of Rock, starring Jack Black — a personal favorite.

As the film began, students started to remark on how similar I was to Jack Black’s character, Dewey Finn. “Oh that’s just like Dan,” one student proclaimed as Finn made some contorted face at the camera. Another student piped up, “This film is about Dan teaching.”

At first I was appalled by their candor. “Do they think of me as some sort of oafish unprofessional fraud?” I asked myself. However, as the film progressed, I found myself increasingly proud of the comparison.

Turns out, young Dewey Finn embodies a lot of the spirit and craft of teaching that I hold at the core of my practice. His class is project-based and student-centered, and he uses the arts to engage students and pull out their unique individual strengths. And, he holds his students to incredibly high standards.

For those who haven’t seen the film, here is a Continue reading…