True Grit: A Visiting Educator’s Impressions of Eagle Rock

Editor’s Note: The author of today’s post, Erika Lowe, is an educator in Burlington, Vermont. This year she is serving as the Community Based Learning Fellow for Partnership for Change, an initiative to transform Burlington and Winooski High Schools to better serve the needs of all learners. Learn more at the Partnership for Change website or follow the Partnership on Twitter at @partnershipvt.

By Erika Lowe, Community Based Learning Fellow – Partnership for Change

Ten years ago I abandoned California public education to teach in Vermont. I could no longer justify teaching in overcrowded classrooms where students spilled into hallways, at schools where arts and physical education programs no longer existed, in a state that spends more on incarcerated prisoners than on educating students. I did not have the grit to sustain teaching in a system where I had little control.

So it came as no surprise to me when I met a high school student from Los Angeles at the Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colorado. Leslie grew up just 10 minutes from where I was raised in Los Angeles. Like me, the L.A. public school system did not work for her. Eagle Rock offered her a second chance. What I did not expect was that she intended to return to her public school system with the knowledge and tools to create change.

Eagle_Rock_Professional_DevelopmentLeslie told me she volunteered at a Waldorf preschool two days a week. Not only did she volunteer, but she used her experience for action research. Leslie was intrigued that Waldorf Schools were originally established to serve the children of factory workers, the irony being that today, only the privileged can take advantage of a Waldorf education. She recognized the inequity of this situation, yet she knew she could apply Waldorf practices and values to public education.

She noted, “I know I can’t change the whole system, but I want to learn what I can from Waldorf education and bring that back to my community. Maybe I can share what I’ve learned and help get a program off the ground in a school that will help make a difference.” Leslie learned values I never had the opportunity to learn as a new teacher in California: grit, persistence and Continue reading…