Eagle Rock Students, Instructors and Staff Wrap Up Another Successful Year

It’s been a busy December here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, and as we wind down for the holiday season, we thought it might be helpful to post a schedule for the rest of 2017 and the beginning of the calendar year ahead.

First off, where we’ve been this month:

  • We graduated three of our amazing students with pomp and circumstance last Friday, with the rest of the student population heading back to families spread across the nation last weekend.
  • Our staff held a holiday party this past Sunday, wrapping up the trimester with a final staff meeting on Monday morning.

Many staff members will be gathering together to make plans for our 74th trimester (ER-74) this week, as well as put additional thought and work in on the planning for our 25th Anniversary Celebration, which is scheduled for June 30, 2018, here in Estes Park, Colo. And, of course, our business office and operations team continues to run the day-to-day tasks that recognize deadlines and schedules (in addition to holidays and celebrations).

Eagle Rock School Elk Dec 2017
(Photo: ©2017 Joel “Shortz” Ziegler)

Meanwhile, staff from our Professional Development Center are wrapping up the current trimester with several commitments in Wisconsin in support of our clients. These include visits with Continue reading…

Tips for Videoconferencing with Professional Learning Communities

School Reform Initiative (SRI) protocols within Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) have more impact when they are facilitated face-to-face by a skilled facilitator.

Being a member of the professional development team here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, I personally support about 10 school network or district clients nationally, which means there are times when I can’t be with them in person. Such face-to-face meetings are important, and I try to arrange these more personal consultations when possible.

But for those times when that’s not possible, I’ve facilitated such gatherings using Zoom’s video and web conferencing platform — a simple to use online tool that allows me to increase the amount of support I can offer clients sandwiched between in-person consulting visits to their local context.

photo for virtual protocol

If you’re unfamiliar with them, School Reform Initiative protocols offer structured processes to support focused and productive conversations, build collective understanding, and drive school improvement. Thoughtful use of these protocols is an integral part of building resilient professional learning communities.

In recent months, I’ve gathered up and written down a number of tips I believe can greatly increase efficacy of such gatherings online. These tips, which I’ll offer here as suggestions, include: Continue reading…

Summer Break 2017 at Eagle Rock School

To paraphrase the American nonfiction writer Charles Bowden, summertime at Eagle Rock offers the best of what might be.

For new students who arrived in early-June, it’s the beginning of a new high school experience and the wilderness orientation trip that accompanies it. For our Public Allies fellows, it’s the end of an advanced year-long service and leadership development experience. And of course, summer signals the graduation of another group of Eagle Rock School students.

(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)
(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)

The summer months on our mountainside campus never fail to impress upon us some of the values we hold so dear — namely, that we choose to focus on continuous improvement and that we are a small organization with an outsized impact.

Along those lines, summer break at Eagle Rock School offers time for some staff, instructors, and administrators to regroup by focusing on Continue reading…

Artist in Residence Highlights Summer 2017 Explore Week

As if a selection of diverse and interesting courses weren’t enough, we’re adding Scott James to our Explore Week mix this time around, which means this poet and artist is on campus and meeting with students all week long.

As our official “Artist in Residence,” during Explore Week, Scott is in the midst, on the periphery and face-to-face with students every day this week. In fact, during most lunch and dinner hours, he’s poised over his vintage typewriter, ready for a good poetic challenge. The deal is, any Eagle Rock School student can walk up to Scott and offer a word — any word — for inspiration and Scott will write an original poem around that word. In fact, that’s pretty much his specialty, and a few years ago he churned out and gave away more than 1,000 such impromptu poems.

An Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow in ER 40-42 (that would be the 40th through 42nd semesters since Eagle Rock’s founding in the 1990s), Scott currently resides in Austin, Tex., where he performs his instant typewriter poetry for events and parties, and helps writers turn their ideas into published books. His tools of trade include a 1946 Smith-Corona and he uses high-quality and handcrafted papers and techniques in his art that blend improvisation, metaphor and classic poetry.

Scott’s artistic career has included performance around the country, including Chris Guillebau’s World Domination Summit and Austin’s SxSW Interactive festival. And during Explore Week, this poet is available for one-on-one sessions with students. He’s also sitting in on several courses and conducting four workshops.

Meanwhile, for the students themselves, they’re all participating in one of the following course offerings: Continue reading…

Summer 2017 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center works with educators and schools committed to making high school a more engaging experience for our youth. That’s because we envision high schools as high functioning centers of learning that are fueled by engagement. Through our offerings (click here for a full list), we facilitate school improvement and support the implementation of engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and help young people use their minds well.

Below is a list that’s inclusive of where we’ve been thus far this spring, along with information about where our staff is headed between now and August. Complied by Eagle Rock’s 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, Sebastian Franco, this list demonstrates just a portion of Eagle Rock’s relevance on a national scale, and offers inspiration for educators and schools interested in professional development initiatives of their own.

Traveling separately, and sometimes as a team, our professional development staff members facilitate, convene, support, participate and work with local schools through the following engagements:

MAY

AISD_Logo

May 8 – 10: Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin, TX — The Austin Independent School District is responsible for the quality of education in the Austin District of Texas. Its mission is to prepare students for college and beyond as they live in one of the best cities for working and living. Eagle Rock’s director of professional development, Michael Soguero, will continue working with the leadership of AISD, as it continues to develop and support an entrepreneurial education program. This is part of efforts to better prepare students for 21st century demands. Michael will be traveling with Eagle Rock Human Performance and Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist, Jon Anderson to continue working with AISD from June 26 – 30.

EPSD

May 11: Estes Park School District (EPSD), Estes Park, CO — The EPSD is in charge of all education programs in the Estes Valley area and its focus is to prepare students to shine as citizens in a world that is increasingly diverse and technological. Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate, and Sebastian Franco, Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow, have supported the school district on outreach efforts in conjunction with the district’s Estes Thrives initiative. This Professional Development Center’s work focused Continue reading…

2017 Public Allies Fellows Tackling a Trio of Team Service Projects

Among the many responsibilities taken on each year by Eagle Rock’s cohort of Public Allies Fellows are Team Service Projects (TSP). This time around, our 2016/2017 fellows have their eyes set on three such projects that are expected to come to a close by the end of this summer.

Taking a step back for a moment, each year, we offer full-time apprenticeships to 12 Public Allies Fellows from across the nation. These fellowships provide an advanced year-long service and leadership development experience at our full-scholarship residential high school in Estes Park, Colo. Once here, the fellows are tasked with working with our educators in re-engaging, retaining and graduating our most prized assets — our students — many of whom have not found success in conventional school settings.

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows

Once on campus and acclimated to their new roles, each fellow participates in a Team Service Project that seeks to recognize the assets of a community instead of approaching communities in a needs-based manner. In small groups of fellows — and in partnership with community members — members of the cohort create, implement and evaluate a service project with sustainable and lasting positive impact.

What we offer below are updates to three such projects that have been taken on by our Public Allies Fellows: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s TLC: Teachers Teaching Teachers to Teach

One of the major “perks” of becoming a part of our cohort of Public Allies Fellows at Eagle Rock is the opportunity to participate in a Colorado state alternative teacher licensure program, which is paid for by Eagle Rock.

An important portion of that program centers on weekly meetings with new licensure candidates on campus to hear fresh teaching skills from our Professional Development Center team members as a means of boosting the candidates’ instructional techniques.

Eagle Rock School Alternative Teacher Licensure

Offered through our Fellowship Program in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education and Public Allies Inc., these “mini” lessons — known as Teaching and Learning Convenings (TLC) — are intended to improve the quality of teaching and awareness each candidate can produce within a classroom setting. The learnings range from classroom culture to simple and effective practices that can improve each student’s experience.

At the same time, the lessons allow each candidate to receive feedback from his or her peers — in addition to our own Continue reading…

Eagle Talk with Alexus Bell

This year — in my position as an Eagle Rock School Public Allies teaching fellow — I have had both the privilege and opportunity to connect with students in order to create meaningful learning experiences.

alexus-bellFor the past month, I’ve been working closely with Eagle Rock students through a program I created called The Eagle Talks. This program enables students to engage with a number of successful, inspiring and diverse professionals from outside the Eagle Rock community.

These professionals are Skyped in for an hour to share their stories of success and accomplishment. This discussion provides students with insights about life after high school, race relations in college, and overall life journeys. Afterward, the students ask questions and extract further illuminating dialogue from the presenter.

One major success I credit to this program illustrates how powerful life stories can be for high school students. It was during a discussion period following a presentation and the guest speaker was talking about his passion for music and how he chose to attend college as well as pursue his dreams within the music industry.

The speaker shared stories about Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Summer Break Means Saying Goodbye and Hello

To date, it’s been an incredibly busy month here at Eagle Rock, what with the graduation of five Eagle Rock School students on Aug. 5, our end of the trimester staff meeting on Aug. 9, bidding farewell to nine of our Public Allies fellows on Aug. 12, and then shortly thereafter saying goodbye to four of our staffers.

Eagle-Rock-School-Summer-Break

So a break in the schedule is well deserved and welcome. However, while students and some of the staff will be taking some time off, our Professional Development Center (PDC) staff remains on the job, working in California, the Ohio Valley, and Boulder. Look for the PDC’s latest update here on the blog soon.

Meanwhile, here’s the game plan beginning early next month: Continue reading…

Physics Students Journey to CU Boulder for Lasers, Lenses and Learning

As a physics student and mountain biking enthusiast in college, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to combine these two activities. Eagle Rock’s support of interdisciplinary courses has allowed me to do just that by teaching physics through the lens of mountain biking.

The Physics of Motion class here at Eagle Rock School focuses on scientific investigation and experimentation both in the classroom and out on bikes. From Newton’s Laws to gear ratios and rotational speed calculations, we’ve dug deep into the exploration of mechanical physics.

Eagle Rock High School Mountain Biking

When my co-instructor, Ally Bolger (Eagle Rock’s 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Science), and I first read over the class enrollment list, we were surprised to find all of our students were female. To celebrate the rarity of an all-female physics class, we looked into support groups for diversity in science and came across the Women In Physics collective at The University of Colorado, Boulder.

As a teacher, attempting to arrange field trips can often mean sending email after email with no success or even response. In this situation, my introductory email to Women In Physics was met with Continue reading…