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…

Neuroscience Students Expound on Findings During Eagle Rock TED Talk

In the final trimester of 2019, a half dozen Eagle Rock School students participated in a unique class offering called “Neuroscience,” that put its full focus on functions of the human brain — that mysterious grey-hued organ that is crowded inside each of our skulls.

This 10-week class was taught by our science instructional specialist Sara Benge and Chelsea Ehret, our 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science & Math, with the purpose of exploring the anatomy, physiology, and habits of the human nervous system.

In addition to discovering how different parts of the brain and nervous system work together to allow us to perform day-to-day duties ranging from doing the dishes to, well, breathing, the class also focused on how the system affects our personal lives.

TED Talk Eagle Rock School
(Image © Sara Elise Benge)

Specifically, students enrolled in the class learned how the human nervous system responds to our personal surroundings and experiences. Students’ conducted experiments, collected data, and then analyzed that information in order to determine how the brain has an impact on our decision-making and health. Perhaps even more important, they learned how  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…

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…

Eagle Rock Blueprints Describe Both Physical and Mission Projects

A set of blueprints is most often construed as an architectural plan for a physical building project. And, in truth, we’re discussing such a construction project in today’s post that will see the first of two new buildings bringing a welcome — and needed — addition to Eagle Rock 640-acre campus in Estes Park, Colo.

But we’re also talking today about a second set of “blueprints” that specifically affects Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center’s institutional planning process. Called Vision 2020, this blueprint enables our board members and staff to fulfill our mission by carefully planning for the allocation and use of resources.

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As the result of a thorough planning process conducted several years ago, our board — assisted by students and staff — adopted an updated plan that incorporates seven major areas of focus (called domains) to be carried out over a multi-year period.

These domains range from one dealing with the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion; to another describing the implementation of an Continue reading…

Winter/Spring 2018 Professional Development Center Update

Winter/Spring 2018 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note:  Each year, the highly skilled and energetic staff from within Eagle Rock Professional Development Center (PDC) pack up and head off to visit dozens of high schools from coast to coast. Once on the ground, they meet up with teachers and administrators in support of efforts intended to engage students in their own education.

Professional Development Eagle Rock

Our insistence on creating high-functioning centers of learning — fueled by active student engagement — is what has kept our professional development services so popular with educators nationwide for nearly 25 years.

What we offer below is a calendar listing of what we have done so far this year, and what lies in the immediate future as our PDC crew participates with schools in cities that touch all corners of our country. This schedule was compiled by Sebastian Franco, our 2017/2018 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development.

JANUARY 2018

Crosstown-High

Jan. 8 – 11
Crosstown High School (CXH) and Future Focused Education (formerly the New Mexico Center for School Leadership) Memphis, TN — Crosstown High School (CXH is among the newest public charter schools, opening this August. Last month, Eagle Rock’s Director of Professional Development Michael Soguero, 2017/2018 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Music Josue Quintana, and World Languages Instructional Specialist Josan Perales led a retreat for CXH. They facilitated this XQ Super School’s efforts to build curriculum in partnership with community partners. Josan and Josue followed up by conducting three local student focus groups while Michael joined with leaders from Future Focused Education to assist with the creation of new schools.

Jan. 10
Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD), OR — NWRESD supports school districts northwest of Portland with the mission to provide students with the right tools and resources to prepare them for higher education and potential careers. Professional Development Associate Sarah Bertucci headed a team retreat for 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…

Food for Thought: Chemistry Students Host Flavor Fest

Talk about creative curriculum. Our Science Instructional Specialist, Sara Benge, came up with a 10-week Chemistry of Cooking class that recently culminated in the First Annual Formulas & Food Fair — a hands-on event where students and staff had the opportunity to taste the “lab results.”

As usual, we’ve added a twist to your run of the mill chemistry class by focusing on the chemical changes that occur in food molecules during fermentation, baking and emulsification — not to mention the Maillard Reaction. As a result, our chemistry students learned how to identify and describe the features of atoms and molecular structures in specific food items, such as a glucose molecule that happens to be found in a number of carbohydrate and sugar-based foods.

Plenty of experimentation went into these chemistry lessons, with our “chem chefs” creating their own cooking recipes, observing changes in flavors, textures and the appearance of the food, and applying their knowledge of basic chemistry concepts in order to explain why they did or did not achieve a specific result.

The Food Fair was held on a recent afternoon with students in the class each preparing a Continue reading…

Fall 2016 Reading Recommendations from Eagle Rock Staff

Editor’s Note: Sure, there’s tons of reading to be undertaken when you’re working in progressive education. That’s because there’s no shortage of authors offering compelling reads that actually changes or reinforces the mindset of the educator.

Here we present reviews of a handful of fictional and nonfiction books — some of them new, some of them a bit longer in the tooth — that come highly recommended by members of our staff. See if any of them spark your curiosity. And then check them out:

the-dharma-bumsThe Dharma Bums – By Jack Kerouac

This 1958 semi-fictional novel relates the understanding and relationship between the outdoors and nature with that of the daily grind of working in the city life as seen through the eyes of the main character, Ray Smith. For our World Languages Instructional Specialist, Josán Perales, this book took him all summer to read because he had to stop every few pages to reflect on his own life experiences. As a college student studying philosophy and world religion, Josán found the story helped him, “empathize with people from all walks of life.” To him, it created a stronger interest for learning about other “experiences and dichotomous lives.” ~ Recommended by Josán Perales, World Languages Instructional Specialist.

witnessing-whitenessWitnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It – By Shelly Tochluk

This nonfiction book has the intention of educating individuals who are working in the education field with a diverse environment. Sara Benge, Eagle Rock’s interim science instructional specialist, said the book helped her witness her own identity as a white woman and how to develop herself as an anti-racist. The reading provides information on Continue reading…