by Robert Burkhardt
“Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center has been essential in helping us develop our network of high schools and creating new metrics to measure success. We couldn’t do it without them; their expertise makes the difference.” Tony Monfiletto, New Mexico Center for School Leadership
Tom Dean and Makoto Itabashi were tasked in 1989 by American Honda Motor Company to conduct research that led to imagining and creating Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center (ERS, PDC). ERS enrolls teens who were disengaged and/or unfamiliar with success, and challenges them with hands-on, interdisciplinary learning that impels them to make a positive difference in the world. The PDC enriches our national conversation on what’s appropriate in American secondary education and works with educators committed to making high school a more engaging experience for youth.
“Our partnership with Eagle Rock has been extremely effective. It provided Rowland Foundation Fellows with the essential professional development and tools to support them in their sabbaticals and to become teacher leaders in their respective schools throughout Vermont. This was a missing link in the years prior to the start of our partnership with ERS last spring.” Jean Berthiaume, The Rowland Foundation, VT
“Our PDC is working to support school leadership development, alternatives to high stakes testing, personalized education, restorative practices, teacher preparation and development, equity work, conferences and more. We’re working in the Ohio Valley, where communities are struggling in the wake of a bygone industrial era. We are working with high-need high schools in New York, Colorado, Vermont, Oregon, California, Nevada, Washington, New Jersey, and New Mexico to engage all young people in their education. It’s not just staff doing this work, however, but students as well. Javon worked in Camden, NJ; Chemi and Cassandra helped facilitate in Vermont; Martin participated in Rochester, NY.” Jeff Liddle, ERS Head of School
“Eagle Rock has been a great help assisting our teachers to implement project based learning (PBL) in the classroom. The collaboration has provided valuable input and teachers have taken the next step with implementing PBL on a regular basis. This has created an excitement with learning in the classroom.” Ken Parker, Principal, Harrison Jr. High School, Cadiz, OH
An essential component of the PDC is that each year a dozen young teachers reside at ERS for an advanced leadership development experience as Public Allies Fellows. They teach, design classes, mentor students and participate in PDC national education reform initiatives. After their year of service at Eagle Rock, many Fellows continue to inspire educational change as teachers, principals, youth development workers or non-profit leaders around the country. A former Fellow was recently named Teacher of the Year in Oakland, CA. While at ERS they also have the opportunity to gain teacher certification through the Colorado Department of Education, and they represent a “deep bench” for ERS when staff vacancies occur.
“We are already reaping the benefits from our work with Eagle Rock. For example, this quarter our school has realized a 51% drop in behavior referrals for classroom disruptions. The strategy implemented was developed during a meeting facilitated by Anastacia Galloway, a Professional Development Associate at Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock has changed the way we think. It has given us a new perspective and an awareness of proven approaches to solving problems within our school.” Maureen Taggart, Principal, Toronto H.S., Toronto, OH
“The long-term purpose of the PDC is that all high schools in America are highly functioning schools of engagement. We are colleagues at the table, sharing general principles that give rise to change based on resources already in place in partner schools. We like to work with networks wherever possible. For example, when we work with five coaches who work with ten schools each, our reach extends to fifty schools. We get to go around the country and help so many schools, gratis. It’s a great contribution to the country and part of Honda’s corporate philanthropy. It’s the power of dreams. We don’t tell people what to do about their issues; we deliver asset-based, job-embedded change facilitation. The important thing is to build on bright spots. We teach how to cook with the ingredients in your own kitchen. And we care just as much for struggling students as kids who graduate but who may be disengaged.” Michael Soguero, Director, PDC
“ERS has helped in many ways. I was a brand-new principal taking the helm from a seasoned school leader, and had the job of filling very big shoes. For me the lifeblood of our school is good professional development. Going into the first year and having a comprehensive plan was critical. Our staff are comfortable because of the consistency and long-term relationship with ERS. For a school like mine, in the poorest Congressional district in the United States, this is invaluable assistance.” Jeff Palladino, Principal, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, Bronx, NY.
Eagle Rock’s PDC is currently engaged in at least twenty school renewal/reform projects across America, including Estes Park High School. This amazing gift from Honda, this gem right here in Estes Park, is helping to change American high schools for the better. What will the next twenty years bring?
“The service from Eagle Rock has been wonderful. It has led to increased implementation and refinement of our teaching and student learning. Along with the professional development sessions, we have established a long-term relationship with an organization halfway across the United States. We are excited to continue to build upon our relationship with Eagle Rock as teachers continue to grow and refine their teaching and learning as well as increase student engagement and success.” Brent Ripley, Principal, Harrison H.S., Cadiz, OH
Estes Park. Nice town. Nice people.