Eagle Rock Staff, Students Adapting to Era of Online Educating

We just finished up the eightieth trimester (ER 80) since our founding in the early-1990s, which we closed with a wonderful week of reflection and celebration. While you’ll be able to learn more about that final week of ER 80 in future updates published here on the Eagle Rock Blog, today we want to share more about the learning experiences we’ve designed for students during our foray into virtual learning in the time of COVID-19.

As previously described in Eagle Rock School Moves Online for the Time of COVID-19, we continue to ensure that the learning we design for our students is flexible and engaging, especially as they adjust to learning from home. Thanks to our quick-on-their-feet staff that worked hard and fast to create and facilitate new educational opportunities, students have had a variety of learning experiences to choose from and have demonstrated incredible commitment and flexibility as they transition to distance learning.

Some previous learning experiences have continued, including Fitness: Anytime, Anywhere, which features fitness challenges ranging from simply finding something active to do, to the 10-touch toilet paper challenge, where students and staff members attempt to Hacky Sack a roll of toilet paper — or maybe less valuable objects — 10 consecutive times. In addition, students, instructors, and other interested Eagle Rock staff have been posting online about their workouts. Such posts have included videos showing Eagle Rockers doing pushups, screenshots from running apps, and reports from workout apps.

The community-building aspect has been a huge success with our students. In fact, one fan-favorite has been Student Services Program Specialist/Explore Week Coordinator Annie Kelston’s video of herself performing weighted pushups with her toddler on her back.

For today’s post, we’re pleased to highlight several of our latest learning experiences, including: Continue reading…

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…

New Event Celebrates Student Successes at the Halfway Mark

At Eagle Rock School, we place the same value on personal growth as we do our insistence on academic success. Over the course of their time here, there are countless opportunities for our students to challenge themselves and develop their own character.

This trimester, we’re piloting a celebration to recognize students’ personal growth at the half-way point of their time here. It takes an abundance of commitment and dedication to become successful at Eagle Rock, and we find it often takes about a year for our students to fully find their groove here. Thus, our new Mid-Career Celebration is what we’re blogging about today.

Eagle Rock School students achieve growth in many ways, including by learning about, experiencing, and practicing effective communication skills, dealing with conflict, and embodying a centering practice. For example, students begin their Eagle Rock School career with a month-long wilderness course focusing on not only becoming part of a community but becoming comfortable with one’s self.

Upon their return to campus, these new students immediately begin the practice of effective communication and teamwork. And they do that while residing in a diverse community and participating in such non-volunteer tasks as Continue reading…

The Role of Power Standards in this Trimester’s Class Offerings

It’s the beginning of our 77th trimester here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center and our students are already well entrenched in furthering their education with meaningful classes — many promoting strong leadership and good citizenry in the world they will soon inherit. A rundown of those classes is offered below, but first, we’d like to give you some insight into how we plan for and assess educational progress here at Eagle Rock School.

(image courtesy of Josán Perales)

At Eagle Rock, we’ve long maintained an “Individual Learning Plan” for our students, as well as “Power Standards” that assess student progress within this plan. All of this is organized around what we call our “5 Expectations,” which include:

  1. Creating Healthy Life Choices
  2. Effective Communication
  3. Leadership for Justice
  4. Engaged Global Citizen
  5. Expanding Knowledge Base

The Individual Learning Plan (ILP for short) is a means of assessing each student’s progress in completing their graduation requirements. The plan is divvied up among three sections, which include: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Are Halfway through Another Educational Explore Week

Regular classes have been set aside for the week as Eagle Rock students turn their attention to physical and mental explorations that range from touring Labyrinth Canyon via canoe, to a tour of nearly a dozen colleges and universities in Southern California for those seeking a higher education when they graduate from Eagle Rock School.

It’s all part of Explore Week, with unique course offerings that fall well outside the realm of formal education and more into the category of leaping feet first in to real-life experiences. Students are currently halfway through this — one of three Explore Weeks held each year— and below is a listing and brief description of the six course offerings in which they are participating:

25th Anniversary Prep Crew: For this course, 10 students have volunteered to stay on campus to help us produce this weekend’s 25th anniversary celebration of Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center’s founding back in the early 1990s. (Learn more about this weekend’s celebrations by visiting our 25th Anniversary section of our website.)

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Several of these students are learning about event management and organization, while others are getting an education in property maintenance and management. In addition to picking up a fistful of service hours, these students will play a vital role in making sure that everything is in place for a successful anniversary celebration this coming weekend.

There are also fun evening activities underway throughout the week, giving students the chance to Continue reading…

Doing Nothing on Thanksgiving is Not an Option at Eagle Rock School

One thing you can’t say about Thanksgiving at Eagle Rock School is that there’s nothing to do. This is one of those times of the year when students, staff and instructors are in accord that this mountainside campus of ours is indeed a great place to spend late-November holidays.

And, much like the name of the holiday, there’s plenty of gratitude to go around as our community prepares for literally dozens of events and activities over a four-day period. It’s a time when we all gather together to celebrate how fortunate we are to live in the Rocky Mountains surrounded by forests that a lot of us like to call home.

Thanksgiving Day 'Gathering' at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center
Thanksgiving Day ‘Gathering’ at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center

Thanksgiving at Eagle Rock is about celebrating the importance of having each other and remembering that we are all here to better ourselves. It’s a time to appreciate what we’ve done to improve ourselves and what we’ve done to help others. It’s a celebration of how we have impacted each other’s lives in a positive way and to celebrate those successes.

Whether we’re indoors creating art or standing outside in the cold playing touch football, the idea is to spend time together.

The highlight of the holiday, of course, is today’s Thanksgiving Day dinner at 3pm, skillfully prepared by 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…

At Eagle Rock It’s Our Surroundings That Provide the Best Education

At Eagle Rock School, we’re kept pretty busy, what with a variety of classes, meetings and continuously working to make our community strong.

Nevertheless, we still manage to find plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. With our campus nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, we are minutes from excellent year round outdoor recreation — including skiing, biking, snowshoeing, climbing, fishing, hiking — and even painting en plein air.

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All of our students begin their Eagle Rock School career with a 24-day wilderness course that is largely focused on orientation, self-management and learning the skills necessary in order to live and learn cordially within a community of peers. And nearly all of this experience takes place in a pristine outdoor environment.

For many of our students, this is the first time they have been enveloped for a lengthy period in a natural setting, surrounded by rivers and forests and meadows and mountain peaks. Many of these students tell us the wilderness course is a Continue reading…