Meet The Team: Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist Jesse Beightol

Beightol_Jesse-Eagle-RockIf it’s an activity that doesn’t take place underneath a ceiling, Jesse Beightol  probably has something to do with its success. Jesse is the outdoor education instructional specialist here, and his classroom consists of the hundreds of acres of forests, streams and meadows surrounding our mountainside campus. Does that mean he wears a lot of sunscreen? You’ll have to ask him that question yourself.

This backcountry fanatic oversees our 24-day wilderness orientation course, Explore Week trips and adventure activities that take place outside of the classroom. Jesse also organizes the Leadership for Justice Curriculum, teaching classes like Outdoor Leadership and Science of Strength. And he co-chairs our risk management committee, teaches CrossFit, attends Aikido, supports Spruce House and serves on Eagle Rock’s discipline committee.

We brought Jesse indoors long enough to ask him a few questions about himself:

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock? 

Jesse: Most immediately I was attending graduate school at the University of New Hampshire, earning a Master of Science degree in outdoor education. Before that I spent about eight years working as a wilderness instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, Wilderness Inquiry, Kent Mountain Adventure Center, Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge and Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock: What first attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Jesse: I led my first wilderness course at Eagle Rock School (ERS) in 2000 and really enjoyed the experience. It was an incredibly challenging course for me and I Continue reading…

Recommended Reads from Eagle Rock Staffers

Editor’s Note: It’s summertime, and for some reason, we’re all expected to catch up on our reading during this three-month respite from school. And, as you well know, there’s a big difference between required reading and recommended reading. Thus, we offer a second installment of what our staff members present for your personal time perusal. What we’ve done here is outline our educators’ thought process as to why they selected a particular read, along with an image of the book cover, and a link (click the book cover to activate the link) to Amazon so you can purchase the selection if you wish, or download it to your laptop or tablet.

beyond-learning-by-doing-theoretical-currents-in-experiential-jay-w-roberts-paperback-cover-artBeyond Learning By Doing: Theoretical Currents in Experiential Education — By Jay W. Roberts
Recommended by Jesse Beightol, Eagle Rock’s Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist

This book gave me a deeper understanding of the historical roots of Experiential Education. Though many educators value “experience,” experiential education is difficult to define and truly understand. This book looks at the many facets of this approach to education, and then challenges educators to learn from the past in order to continually improve in the future.

Science-as-Thinking-book-coverScience As Thinking: The Constants and Variables of Inquiry Teaching — By Wendy Ward Hoffer
Recommended by Janet Johnson, Eagle Rock’s Science Instructional Specialist

This book is based on backwards planning — and so it follows the model we use here at Eagle Rock — but it focuses specifically on scientific thinking and how inquiry looks as a scientist. What does “thinking like a scientist” mean? How do we capture that thinking in student work? How can we merge that with other strategies that we learn and apply it to science? For example, the practice of Continue reading…

Recapping the Events of Explore Week

Each and every trimester here at Eagle Rock, you can count on things slowing way down at the conclusion of the first five weeks of classes, We call this period of time Explore Week, and it gives our students the opportunity to check out careers, hobbies, colleges, art, music, physical fitness, the outdoors, and other offerings that may not necessarily fit into the daily academic curriculum.  

As an added bonus, our instructional staff gains a precious week to catch up on future coursework, because often it’s folks outside of Eagle Rock who teach the classes conducted during Explore Week. Of course, some of our staff and teaching fellows are in a position to forego some planning chores, instead bringing their personality and interests to the community in the form of their own Explore Week class.

Eagle-Rock-Explore-Week

At first, Explore Week was seen as a way to offer music and art to Eagle Rock students. However, since the school now boasts a strong musical and artistic program, class offerings have become more creative. Much more creative.

Past classes have included mock trials, barista training, Reiki certifications, Tablas, sewing, rock climbing, iPhone video production and stone masonry.

For this trimester’s Explore Week, there were a variety of on-campus and off-campus activities underway:

  • On-campus, Tobee and Derik worked hard wrapping up their graduation requirements since their big day is fast approaching.
  • Three other students — Jeremy, Nija’ah, and Jessy — studied and finished up projects in preparation for their graduation next trimester.

Eagle Rock’s CrossFit-ERS Literally Run the Gamut

Eagle Rock School CrossFit LogoAll right. It’s 4:45!  Time to warm up! Today’s workout is everyone’s favorite! Fran!!! 21-15-9! Thrusters and pull-ups!

Four days every week, a handful of staff and students report to Eagle Rock’s Human Performance Center for an intense hour of stretching, running, lifting, jumping — and whatever else the day’s workout calls for. They’re there because pain is good, and extreme pain is extremely good. They’re here for CrossFit ERS!

Eagle Rock School (ERS) has always engaged students in a range of physical fitness activities, including swimming, running, skiing, and dancing. Physical Fitness is written into our school’s eight themes and Developing Mind, Body and Spirit, as well as Making Healthy Personal Choices are part of Eagle Rock’s 10 Commitments. While these values were established in 1993, their true relevance hasn’t been more significant than in this era of virtual relationships, childhood obesity, and school curricula that is hyper-focused on using the mind, often at the expense of the whole person.

And now an exciting element has been added to our Human Performance curriculum in the form of our designation as an official school-based CrossFit Affiliate!

What does that affiliation mean? CrossFit is a different approach to working out, with the aim of forging a broad, general and inclusive fitness. To participate in CrossFit is to “Be prepared for the unknown and the unknowable.” Every workout is different and the intention is to prepare your body for all types of physical challenges.

Eagle-Rock-CrossFit-3In the end, CrossFitters are looking to increase fitness in a truly measurable way. The workouts challenge participants to perform “constantly varied functional movements at relatively high intensity.” But an even more important component of CrossFit is the communal aspect. The act of like-minded people working out together and supporting each other through the WOD’s (Workout of the Day) has created a worldwide CrossFit community that manifests itself in each Box (CrossFit gym) on a daily basis.

Three years ago, level 1 certified CrossFit trainers and ERS staffers Jeff Liddle and – yours truly, Jesse Beightol – started bringing CrossFit principles to the ERS curriculum through our Science of Strength, High Intensity Training, and Science of Fitness courses. While each of these courses was unique, students used CrossFit and their experiences in the workouts to take a deeper look at their personal fitness and make predictions about their own future health.

Our students would study posture, flexibility, and the musculoskeletal system in a classroom setting for a time, then participate in an intense CrossFit workout that would solidify that classroom learning. That, in turn would enable students to Continue reading…