AEE Accreditation Council Meets at Eagle Rock

For the third time in as many years, the Association for Experiential Education’s (AEE) Accreditation Council recently held its mid-year meeting here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. The association, which was founded in the summer of 1977 right here in Colorado, has become the leading accrediting body for organizations that utilize adventure-based experiential education.

AEE’s Accreditation Council – May 2019 (Image courtesy of Steve Pace)

AEE’s accreditation standards, which were first proposed in the early 1990s, are now expressed in six distinct areas:

  1. Philosophical, Educational, and Ethical Principles
  2. Program Governance
  3. Program Management, Operations, and Oversight
  4. Technical Activities – Land
  5. Technical Activities – Water
  6. Non-Technical Activities

Since February of 1995 — when the Accreditation Council awarded the organization’s first seals of approval to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Project Adventure — AEE’s highly sought-after accreditation has become the standard by which all adventure-based programs are judged.

During the three-and-a-half-day meeting, which took place from May 31 to June 3 in our on-campus Professional Development Center, council members covered a number of topics, including: Continue reading…

Award-Winning Film AN AMERICAN ASCENT Screened at Eagle Rock

Editor’s Note: Today’s post, which focuses on the recent screening of AN AMERICAN ASCENT — an award-winning documentary film about the first African-American expedition to tackle North America’s highest peak (Denali) — comes to us from outgoing Teaching Fellow in Outdoor Education, Leila Ayad, Leila was one of the many Eagle Rock community members who attended the July 21 screening of the film in our Learning Resource Center’s Amphitheater. Eagle Rock co-hosted the event along with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) — a leading provider of Wilderness-based expeditions for youth and adults. Each year, by way of NOLS’ Gateway Partnership Program, select Eagle Rock School students receive a highly coveted scholarship to participate in a NOLS expedition. Below is Leila’s write-up of the July 21st event here at Eagle Rock.

By Leila Ayad, 2017/2018 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Outdoor Education

This past trimester, Eagle Rock School and NOLS hosted a screening of the documentary film, “AN AMERICAN ASCENT,” which follows the first-ever all African-American expedition to attempt to ascend Denali, the highest peak in North America.

NOLS representative Amy Mautz arrived on campus, bringing along the film and Stephen Shobe, one of the climbers featured in the film, which was shot in the summer of 2013 in Alaska.

Shobe dined with a group of Eagle Rock students and hosted a Q & A session following a viewing of the film.

Students were able to Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Sendoff for Our 7 Latest Graduates is This Friday

As ER 71 ends, our latest group of Eagle Rock School graduates — seven this time around — will depart our campus one last time amidst a thoughtful display deserving of such an achievement. And it all begins at 4pm MT this Friday, April 14, in our Human Performance Center.

Marking the 71st trimester since Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center’s founding back in the early 1990s, this latest trimester graduation ceremony will be broadcasted live, online, via our Ustream / IBM Cloud Video channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eagle-rock-school-graduation.

Eagle Rock School Spring 2017 Graduates

As you may imagine of students who are now fully engaged in their own education, lives, and communities, our seven graduates have big plans in mind for the immediate future. Those objectives, along with their Eagle Rock School-related accomplishments and advice for incoming students, are outlined below.

Albert Molina (arrived at the beginning of ER 61) — Albert arrived at Eagle Rock in September of 2013 from Los Angeles. Most recently a member of Aspen House, he lived in two other houses during his time here. Over the past 10 trimesters, Albert has been involved in Mag 7 (a campus group featuring Eagle Rock’s seven most veteran students that focuses on various leadership roles and opportunities), and was instrumental in starting a debate group where students and staff practice their rhetoric to persuade others to take their view on specific topics.

Albert plans to participate on an upcoming National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) wilderness trip, and then earn a real estate license while simultaneously working on a college-level degree in business. His plan calls for shadowing a mentor in the field to gain experience on what it means to be a real estate agent. His long-term objectives include investing in the stock market with the intent of owning his own company with another investor.

One piece of advice Albert offers incoming students is to Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow Develops His Own ‘Sense of Place’

jordan-cernaI arrived at Eagle Rock School a year ago as a contract instructor tasked with co-facilitating a wilderness experience for new students. The 38-day contract was to help provide a wilderness experience in which all incoming Eagle Rock School students must participate prior to becoming an official member of the Eagle Rock community.

While getting to know many students and staff at Eagle Rock during those initial days, I began to feel the connection and commitment these educators and kids had to their environment. Whether it was an educational opportunity or a place of employment, each individual knew they belonged to something very special.

This mountainside setting simply felt like a force of influence. As we all settled into our new environment, I saw students taking time from their learning environment to work on personal growth. I saw staff members who told me they returned to Eagle Rock after trying out new positions in other locations with other organizations. What powerful bond brought these individuals back to Eagle Rock?

As I walked the trails on campus and wandered around the rustic buildings in town, I purposely spent a lot o Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s 2016/2017 Public Allies Fellows

Fresh off two full weeks of on-campus training, our 2016/2017 cohort of Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows now officially begin — or in some cases continue — their year-long service and leadership development as part of the national Public Allies Fellowship.

During their time here, these new and returning fellows will take an active part in Eagle Rock’s residential and community-based school, as well as support our Professional Development Center’s national work. Each fellow has shown a passion for alternative teaching and progressive approaches to learning, youth development and empowerment. And each is expected to support our objective of re-engaging high-school students in their education.

All fellows participate in on-going professional development on a weekly basis, and are a part of regular full-staff meetings. Professional development topics include teaching approaches and pedagogy, leadership development, capacity building, equity, cross-cultural understanding and social justice, among others (including self care).

20162017-eagle-rock-school-public-allies-fellows

Here is a short biography and educational history of each fellow in the cohort:

Aaron Segura, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Curriculum

Aaron was brought up in Ohio and graduated from Clark University where he studied political science and environmental studies, and played for the men’s soccer team. Aaron most recently resided in upstate New Hampshire where he worked at an alternative boarding school. A few of Aaron’s interests include watching and playing soccer, rock climbing, ultra-running, and learning about human anatomy and physiology.

Alexus Bell, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science

Alexus is originally from San Diego, Calif., but found her career passion while majoring in educational science at the Continue reading…

Nine Eagle Rock School Students Earn Their Diplomas

Just in time for the holidays, nine Eagle Rock School students became the latest graduates to emerge from our campus in Estes Park, Colo. — each set to embark on that lifelong journey that almost all commencement speakers talk about.

ER 67’s grads (the 67th graduating class in the history of Eagle Rock School) received their diplomas on Friday, Dec. 11, in ceremonies that were recorded and are now available to watch online at Eagle Rock’s Ustream channel. Graduates included Ashalou Harrison, Emelia Eller, Daisy Delgado, Joey Flores, Cristian Aguiluz, Bryan Yanez, Kira Sinclair, Aaron Beckles and Saben Hinckley.

ER67-Graduates-Eagle-Rock-School

With their departure, we’re pleased to provide a little background on the graduates, along with words of wisdom from each:

Ashalou Harrison joined us in ER 59 and was a Juniper House resident who was born in Nepal and raised in Hawaii. Highlights of her time at Eagle Rock include working at Rocky Mountain National Park for two summers and traveling with the Eagle Rock Professional Development (PDC) team to San Francisco for a PDC engagement.

This athletic and funny grad, who’s heading off to college after graduation, suggests future Eagle Rock students, “don’t force upon anything — just go with the flow.”

Emelia Eller, ER 60, is from Austin, Texas and St. Louis, Mo., but has spent the past few years as a Continue reading…

NOLS and Outward Bound Scholarships Foster Leadership Skills

Each summer, we’re blessed with the opportunity to engage with students in a variety of outdoor education experiences both on and off our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colorado.

In addition to our New Student Wilderness Orientation course, the summer trimester often includes classes such as For the Birds, River Watch, Colorado Rocks, The Physics of Mountain Biking and Outdoor Leadership. In addition, the mid-trimester Explore Week brings the highly sought-after Green River canoe trip and an outdoor outing to the famous Vedauwoo climbing area in Wyoming.

In addition to these opportunities, we are able to offer scholarships to students who have shown consistent interest in outdoor education , and have demonstrated leadership in various roles on campus. Through our growing relationship with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Outward Bound (OB), Eagle Rock School is awarded a small number of highly coveted scholarships for our students to attend either a NOLS expedition through its Gateway Partnership Program or an Outward Bound expedition through its Pinnacle Scholars program.

Stacy Escobar-Outward-Bound-Eagle-Rock-School

Eagle Rock students are hand selected for these opportunities and are then able to choose from a variety of course options that best fit their interests. This summer, current Eagle Rock School student Bryan Yanez and Eagle Rock School graduate Valentina Ramirez were both awarded NOLS Gateway scholarships. Current student Stacy Escobar was awarded an OB scholarship.

While both of these programs are highly regarded on an international level, there are slight differences in their mission and curriculum. Outward Bound is, in many ways, considered a pioneer in outdoor and experiential education. It was founded in Aberdovey, Wales in 1941 by Kurt Hahn and Lawrence Holt, with support from the UK shipping company, Blue Funnel Line. , Hahn believed in the “concept of an intense experience surmounting challenges in a natural setting, through which the individual builds his (her) sense of self-worth, the group comes to a heightened awareness of human interdependence, and all grow in concern for those in danger and need.”

Outward Bound went on to develop a school in the United States in 1961 that is thriving at 17 different OB schools and centers across the U.S. The educational framework still emphasizes, “High achievement through active learning, character development and teamwork.”

A partnership between Eagle Rock and Outward Bound has been in place for the past seven years. Each year, one or two Eagle Rock School students receive scholarships through the Pinnacle Scholar Program. This year, Stacy Escobar chose to attend a month-long OB course in Utah that included backpacking, whitewater rafting and canyoneering. Stacy went into this course with strong leadership skills and was challenged with a group of students that came from a very different life experiences than herself.

When asked about her Outward Bound experience, Stacy said: Continue reading…

News From the Rock — Summer 2014

Believe it or not, we just this month wrapped up our 63rd trimester and our students returned home on Aug. 9.

As a result, it’s a different atmosphere here on campus as contractors work feverishly to maintain our facilities, new staff members settle in, and our veteran staff begins planning for the upcoming academic year — when they’re not catching up on some well-deserved rest.  While all this is going on, let’s take a quick peek at what I only halfway jokingly like to call, “The Summer That Was.”

Working with teenagers can be a messy business, and this summer was certainly no exception to that axiom. A few of our students made decisions that resulted in their dis-enrollment and some others struggled as that process played out. There were moments when it felt like things were falling apart.

However, true to the spirit that is Eagle Rock, the low points tested our conviction and pushed us into action. Our community has tremendous resilience and through hard work, well-placed hope, some good ideas, a little vulnerability, some forgiveness, and a few heartfelt apologies, we ended the trimester with a wonderful group of graduates and we’re headed in a positive direction.

As a side note, anyone who thinks the answer to all of the educational woes in this country lie in some sterile set of standards or one-size-fits-all solution to the “problem of the day,” has not spent enough time in schools. The answers, growth, insight — and ultimately the deep learning — often occur in the conflict. When we stay present with each other, magic can happen. Such is the messy but transformative nature of living smack dab in the middle of a community.

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Despite the challenges, some wonderful things also occurred this summer: Continue reading…

News From The Rock

ER_The_RockEditor’s Note: One of the reasons we’ve chosen to publish a blog is because like many organizations nowadays, we’ve come to the realization that with a blog, we have access to a digital press of our own… one that’s capable of helping us share Eagle Rock’s news in a timely and dynamic format. And you may have noticed, our blog recently underwent a major facelift.

With that in mind, we’re pleased to introduce a new type of blog post and one that we hope you’ll come to enjoy and look forward to reading every month-and-a-half or thereabouts. Here, in our ‘News From The Rock posts, we intend to share some of what’s going on behind the scenes at Eagle Rock, both in our award-winning residential high school and our professional development center. Driven by our head of school, Jeff Liddle, these ‘From The Rock’ posts will replace many of the mass email messages we’d been infrequently sending to parents and other Eagle Rock stakeholders. (Note: If Email’s more your style, you can enter your email address in the ‘Get Blog Posts by Email’ box at the top of the right hand column, and we’ll send you an email message each time we update the blog!)

So now that you’ve arrived at “The Rock,” here’s what’s been happening lately:

Around campus…

To get us started, we’re happy to report that the Eagle Rock board of directors recently approved — and a dedicated group of Eagle Rock School alumni will soon launch — our own Alumni Association. For details, read our recent blog post Orbiting The Rock: The Eagle Rock Alumni Association Takes Flight, and stay tuned for more information on this exciting development.

Next up, we recently graduated eight more Eagle Rock students, comprising ER-60 (Eagle Rock’s 60th group of graduates since our first group in April 1995). Congrats to these new grads, including:

  • Axaria Campbell
  • Blayke Curtis
  • Jonathon Deras
  • Valentin Deras
  • Derek Gaines
  • Marwan Johnstone
  • Nyeema Lee
  • Valentina Ramirez

Farewell to this year’s Eagle Rock Public Allies Teaching Fellows – they did a fantastic job and we wish them the best as they spread their wings and carry what they experienced and learned at Eagle Rock into their next endeavors:

  • Eliza Wicks Arshack – Outdoor Education
  • Laura Baumgardner – Health & Wellness
  • Clay Chiles – Human Performance
  • John Finefrock – Societies & Cultures
  • Rebecca Garrison – Literacy & Literature
  • Catherine Graham – Visual Arts
  • Jeff Holoubek – Service Learning
  • Athena Jin – Math
  • Jaimie LaPine – Music
  • Laura Nolan – Life After Eagle Rock
  • Colin Packard – Professional Development Center
  • Brighid Scanlon – World Languages

After two full decades, the pool side of the Human Performance Center roof here on property is being replaced.

We recently installed photovoltaic solar panels to reduce our dependence on electricity from the grid, and the School’s solar panel class spent five weeks studying that technology.

Around the country…

  • Eagle Rock students Steven “Ray Cat” Legér and Song Candea have been away in Boston studying on a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program, now in its 27th year. Better known as “Five-Week,” the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program, with its diversity of study options, world-class Berklee faculty, visiting artists, and state-of-the-art facilities, is the premiere contemporary music summer program for young musicians. Each summer, approximately 1,000 participants from across the U.S. and around the world (70 countries) share in this unique summer experience.
  • Eagle Rock student Franco Casas just wrapped up a rafting, backpacking and climbing trip in Utah as part of an Continue reading…