It recently occurred to me that August 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of when Matt and I first stepped foot onto the Eagle Rock campus in Estes Park, Colo. We were full of questions, doubts, elation, apprehensions, and, at least one of us, the resolute hope that this little-known school would possess the dynamism needed to begin transforming Matt from a restless, rudderless, troubled youth into a young maturing adult in possession of the skills and raw determination to do whatever it takes to set and reach his goals.

At Eagle Rock, ‘8+5=10’ provided a standard by which Matt could measure his growth, as well as a community offering endless support and encouragement, which gradually erased years of self-doubt and self-destructive behavior. What a wonderful, remarkable 20 years it has been for Matt and me. His transformation through the consistent labor of so many at Eagle Rock remains an inspiration for me today as a high school educator. Ultimately though, through Eagle Rock, Matt secured the self-assurance and knowledge that choice and consequence go hand-in-hand in crafting our own unique identity.

To everyone at Eagle Rock whose hands touched my son’s heart, mind, and soul, and who saw beyond the facade of a tough-talking young man to the untapped resources within him, you have my family’s heart-felt thanks and gratitude.

~ Doug Rutherford, Chandler, Ariz. (in 2012, Doug’s son Matt became the first person in history to complete a nonstop, single-handed sailing voyage circumnavigating North and South America, a journey that lasted 309 days and spanned 27,077 miles on the ocean without stepping ashore even briefly to stretch his legs).

Eagle Rock School fosters a unique community-driven approach to education. Public schools often do well to educate students; however, the approach that works for many fails to provide appropriate autonomy for others. As one of these others, lucky enough to have attended Eagle Rock School (ERS), I can attest to the value of their approach. I was an unsuccessful student in the general education setting. The curriculum at ERS afforded me the opportunity to pursue knowledge and demonstrate learning in a way that made sense for me. Coursework for all of my classes was designed with the intention of facilitating active participation in the attainment of knowledge. Students were also encouraged to demonstrate learning by written expression and presentation: much more challenging, though far more comprehensive means of demonstrating knowledge.

As I left ERS and entered college, it became clear that my open-ended educational experience set me up for educational success in a more challenging setting. I learned good study habits and far more importantly I developed a curiosity for learning that made education a privilege rather than a chore. Many of my peers in college found verbal presentations and active learning that takes place at more advanced levels, though I found myself at home in this environment. Now pursuing a doctoral degree, I continue to find that the educational foundation I built at ERS scaffolds the passion I have for building an expanding knowledge base. Eagle Rock is truly and educational environment from which you can get out what you put in, and is replete with opportunities for the curious mind.

~ Bern Lee, ER 40 (2006) graduate & current Ph.D candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

I traveled to Colorado from California to visit Eagle Rock’s illustrious campus because I was a troubled youth. Upon arriving, I knew Eagle Rock School (ERS) was a place I needed to be because the curriculum promoted independence, leadership, and was separate from all the negative influences I encountered growing up in Southern California. All of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs were present in order for me to start the journey to self–actualization.

While at Eagle Rock I felt safe physically and physiologically which was the push to engage the metacognitive. How do I think about learning? Who is the man I will become? What was I taught that will not aide me in accomplishing my goals? What do I need to unlearn? What is the moral and ethical code that influences my decisions and how does it need to change or develop?

The three years I spent at Eagle Rock School were pivotal for me to go on to become a Morehouse College graduate, international traveler, join the education field, Public Allies member, Presidential Service Awardee, mentor of youth, and a contributing citizen of society.

~ Calvin King, ER 47 (2009) graduate & current teacher at the Christina Seix Academy

The Rotary Club of Estes Park has been happily associated with the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center for many years. We’re fortunate to count a number of Eagle Rock staff among our members — they truly epitomize the Rotary theme of Service above Self. The students at Eagle Rock School are often the top fundraisers for the annual Estes Park Rotary Duck Race and have presented many interesting programs for the Rotary Club over the years. In addition, many Rotary members participate in Eagle Rock’s Presentations of Learning, often reporting back about just how fortunate Estes Park is to have such a great resource in town like the Eagle Rock School. As the current president of Estes Park Noon Rotary Club, I look forward to continuing and strengthen our relationship with Eagle Rock.

~ Scott Thompson, President, Estes Park Noon Rotary Club