Eagle Rock School Begins its 80th Trimester with Engaging Class Offerings

Just as it has been for the last 79 trimesters here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, students are once again immersed in classes that challenge their minds, improve their life skills, and present new ways of learning.

In this, our 80th trimester since the school was founded in the early 1990s, students made their selections from an assortment of class offerings, ranging this time around from exploring the probability and statistics of a dice game, to exploring personality traits through literature and the lens of a camera.

If you are familiar with our 10 Commitments for students attending our non-traditional school, you’ll run across the values that our students are committed to live by. In particular, they are asked to develop their minds through intellectual discipline, their bodies through physical fitness, and their spirits through thoughtful contemplation. As you’ll see below, our curriculum continues this approach of presenting educational experiences that add actual practical value to our graduates’ lives after they leave our mountainside campus and re-immerse themselves in the real world.

That being said, below are descriptions of a half dozen or so of the new classes available in this trimester. And please look here again in a month or so to see a synopsis of the remaining classes being offered this trimester:

The Game of Pig: Pig is a competitive dice game, and Interim Math instructional specialist Stephany Subdiaz is teaching her students the best approaches for this game of chance. Through numbers and probability, students are analyzing real life situations and games.

By the end of this five-week class, they’ll be able to figure out complex probabilities, the likelihood of basketball free throw percentages, and have designed their own games of chance — where they’re likely to win or at least come out ahead more often than not.

But Then You Read: The title of this class comes from James Baldwin, who once said Continue reading…

Reporting on the Fall 2019 School Reform Initiative Fall Meeting

Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) team — along with Josán Perales, our world languages instruction specialist — descended on Boston in early November to participate in the 2019 School Reform Initiative Fall Meeting.

Presentation at 2019 SRI Fall Meeting about the renaming of Coolidge Corner School.

The School Reform Initiative, or SRI, is a Denver-based organization serving educators across the country, with the objective of creating equitable and effective learning communities. To accomplish this, SRI hosts a variety of professional development workshops across the country, such as reflective learning communities institutes (scheduled for Texas, Florida, and Illinois in 2020) and two-day equity institutes (available on-demand in 2020). It also employs a comprehensive database of protocols for use in professional learning settings. The November 2019 Fall Meeting encouraged participating educators to collaborate with others, tackle pressing challenges facing their organizations, and participate in a variety professional development trainings.

To that end, Sarah Bertucci, our director of professional development, and Travis Burhart, Eagle Rock’s 2019/2020 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, arrived a few days early in order to Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s 79th Trimester Begins with Some Unique Class Offerings

A quick look at a few of the classes available in this, our 79th trimester, shows that Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center continues to stand at the forefront of an approach to education that uniquely encourages students to become actively engaged in their own education.

No cookie-cutter classes here. It’s all about leading our students into a future that they can help develop — free of nonsensical edicts, outmoded education models, and unimaginative curriculum. Here on our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colo., we put the emphasis on classes that will actually turn out to be helpful and useful once our students step out into the real world.

That being said, feel free to check out the list of class names and descriptions below for the first half of ER 79 (the 79th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). A second list will appear here a few weeks before Thanksgiving: Continue reading…

Second Half of Eagle Rock School’s 78th Trimester Gets Underway

We’re entering the second half of our 78th trimester, and as promised in our post about this trimester’s first grouping of classes (see: Here’s Some of What We’re Learning This Trimester at Eagle Rock School), we’re now publishing a follow-up post featuring a rundown of the classroom offerings for this particular portion of the school year. Call it ER 78: The Sequel, if you will.

Each of our classes is carefully contemplated, curated and contained within our curriculum — constructed specifically for students seeking a purpose in school and in life. It’s an approach that has worked continuously for the past 25 or so years for the young people who are studying hard and experiencing a new life with and through the Eagle Rock community.

Without further ado, here’s what we’re tackling on the backside of ER 78 (the 78th trimester since our founding in the early 1990s): Continue reading…

Presenting and Learning at the 2019 Deeper Learning Conference

Late last month, three of our staff traveled to sunny San Diego, California, to attend the 2019 version of the Deeper Learning Conference — an annual gathering of educators committed to engaging students in deeper learning. Known as DL2019, this year’s event focused on offering attendeesa better understanding of how educators can foster student engagement in deeper learning and create equitable learning environments.

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with Deeper Learning, it refers to a set of six competencies that students need to succeed in and out of the classroom, including Content Mastery, CollaborationSelf-directed Learning, Critical Thinking & Problem SolvingEffective Communication, and Academic Mindset. Learn more at Deeper-Learning.org.

Eagle Rock was represented at DL2019 by Josán Perales, our World Languages Instructional Specialist/Instructional Coach; Cindy Elkins, our Art Instructional Specialist; and me — Doen Lee, Eagle Rock’s 2018-2019 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development.

The conference host was High Tech High, which is an integrated network of 16 charter schools in Southern California where the design principles of equity, personalization, authentic work, and collaborative design guide the organization’s work. For our part, our Professional Development Center has had a long-standing collaboration with HTH’s Graduate School of Education, while another one of our California-based clients, iLEAD, was also Continue reading…

Marking 5 Years of Professional Development for Ohio Valley’s Related Arts Instructors

Described in simple terms, the Ohio Valley encompasses a series of small towns alongside the Ohio River in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all of them heavily dependent on the steel industry.

During my high school years, our nation’s steel industry began to collapse and with it, the economies of many of these riverside communities, among them my own hometown of Weirton, West Virginia. Weirton Steel — our city’s primary employer — fell on hard times and as a result, many families in that town joined others up and down the Ohio River who suffered major economic losses.

Just across the river from my hometown lies Steubenville, Ohio, whosename is derived from Fort Steuben, a 1786 fort that sat within the city’s current limits and was named for German-Prussian military officer Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Today, a replica of the fort is open to the public (downtown on South Third Street). The city’s other claims to fame are its annual Christmas Nutcracker Village & Advent Market, Dean Martin Festival, and more than 25 murals scattered throughout the city. Steuben is also the county seat of Jefferson County.

As an Ohio Valley native — and with the above as background — I take great pride in the work I’m able to do in this area through a long-time partnership between our Professional Development Center (PDC) and the Jefferson County Education Service Center (ESC).

This educational collaboration started as a 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…

House Parents Describe Their Eagle Rock Student Housing Experiences

At first glance, the job of being a house parent for a group of six teen-aged boys and an equal number of teen-aged girls could be a tall order. And as challenging as it is to properly support a dozen students on a daily and nightly basis, imagine a house full of young adults when it comes to being engaged in their own education and living community.

Three of our six house parents recently wrapped up their first trimester in this critical on-campus role. And, not unexpectedly, our administrators again proved to be really good at selecting the best staff members to serve as house parents. We’re also experts at preparing and supporting those house honchos for what the job entails, but some things — as you’ll read below — can only be learned while performing the job itself.

That being said, no one can describe the house parent experience as well as these fresh adult leaders. We’ve asked the three newbies to reflect on what those experiences meant to them personally. But first, a little background on our on-campus Living Village, which is made up of six houses — each designed to accommodate up to 12 students in two separate sleeping areas. 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…

This ‘Language Class’ Offers More Than Just a Brush Up on Spanish

Five Eagle Rock students are well into a 10-week class that is enabling them to explore their own identities through the lens of political views, human stories and the visible and invisible walls that individuals and nations construct between themselves.

Called Borders & Identity, this class places learning to speak and write Spanish as an objective, with the goal of actively helping build bridges between people and communities as its primary goal. Tied into this class is the concept of “Enduring Understanding,” which is a guiding idea for each of our classes. Also referred to as our “10-year Takeaway,” Enduring Understanding asks us to consider what it is students will remember about this class and their learning in 10 years.

Getting Hands-on with Identity

In order for this class to be truly effective, the students needed to understand that changing the dominant narrative of immigration requires hearing directly from — and taking action with — those affected by our own country’s immigration history and policy. With that in mind, the first five weeks of class saw students diving into the world of migration and identity, creating their own informed perspectives through video and fieldwork, while learning ways to communicate in Spanish through dialogue and poetry.

Eagle Rock School Bordrs and Indentity Class

Student involvement was immediate, with a visit to the El Movimiento Exhibit at the Michener Library on the University of Northern Colorado campus in Greely on the second day of class. There they met to discuss the Chicanx movement in that part of the state with Dr. Priscilla Falcon, the head of the university’s Hispanic Studies Program.

They also visited the Continue reading…