Fresh Woods and Pastures New

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The time has come: I will leave Eagle Rock at the end of August 2012.

It has been an honor to serve as founding Head of School at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center. The opportunity to help create and shape this remarkable entity since 1991 has been a capstone experience for me, and I am deeply indebted to American Honda Motor Company; to the extraordinary Eagle Rock staff members present and past; and to the Eagle Rock students with whom I have had the good fortune to live, work, play and learn. Together we have made a dazzling dream come true. Thank you all.

Tom Dean and Makoto Itabashi forged a brilliant vision almost twenty-five years ago, and their inspired leadership during Eagle Rock’s formative years sowed the seeds of greatness. Gary Kessler has been a wise partner and brilliant coach as chair of American Honda Education Corporation’s Board of Directors during the past decade; I owe him a debt no words can repay.

Lizzie and I could not have asked for a finer environment to offer Eileen and Patrick in their early and adolescent years. Our family has thrived at Eagle Rock, and we will miss the close relationships we have shared with so many of you.

The Estes Park community has been a welcome source of support and strength, and it has been heartwarming to see Eagle Rock students gain recognition throughout the Estes Valley for the many service projects we have undertaken.

It is humbling to witness the productive lives of Eagle Rock graduates, and to know that the school’s dual curricular focus on academic and personal growth contributed to their moral, mental and social maturity.

Similarly, the path-breaking work of the Professional Development Center has earned Eagle Rock an enviable national reputation as we have collaborated with partners across America.

I will miss teaching Shakespeare; playing soccer on the Field of Dreams; singing in choir and making music with the band; leading the gate run on winter mornings; raising money for the Graduate Fund; performing at the outdoor amphitheater; morning Gathering; Sunday brunch; Presentations of Learning; Sunday Sweat; 8+5=10; and all of you.

Lizzie and I look forward to celebrating the school’s 20th anniversary with you in June 2013. We are also eager to see Eagle Rock flourish under dynamic new leadership as it moves into the second twenty years.

The laughter and good humor we have shared stays with me, and I will carry Eagle Rock in my heart as long as I live. Thank you all again for the gift you have given me. What a privilege it has been to live, work and learn with all of you!

Robert Burkhardt

Dear Friends and Family of Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center:

It is with both a deep sense of regret, and an eternal sense of appreciation for the man and for his work, that I inform you that Dr. Robert Burkhardt will retire from the position of Head of School at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, effective August 31, 2012.

I am immensely grateful to Robert for his unending and passionate commitment to Eagle Rock and all that it has come to be for so many. His leadership, vision, integrity and example simply defy explanation. Due to Robert’s relentless dedication, the Eagle Rock community has evolved from a raw concept to a fully accredited, respected, honored and valued institution that has served countless individuals and organizations in practical, profound and enduring ways.

His legacy is the foundation and bedrock of Eagle Rock’s enduring philosophy, and he has been the captain and steward of its remarkable culture. The axioms Robert authored in the school’s value system, “8+5=10”, have served to shape and energize Eagle Rock since its formation more than 20 years ago, and will continue to do so going forward. All of us have been enriched by Robert’s deep engagement and unique wit, grace and wisdom at morning gatherings, in the classroom, in the band, in dramatic performances, on the athletic field, as an administrator, or, perhaps most importantly, in a life-changing one-on-one conversation with a young person in need.

As we prepare for this change, I can inform you that an orderly and comprehensive search process is underway, with the understanding that Robert cannot be replaced; only succeeded. I anticipate that Robert’s successor will be named in the months ahead. Rest assured that his successor will preserve, protect and honor the unique dimensions that define Eagle Rock and continue to lead our journey to an even higher level of excellence.

So while the occasion of this letter is somewhat sad, at the same time I can’t help but be joyful for Robert and Elizabeth as they move on to the next chapter of their life, a richly deserved next chapter. Fortunately the book that he has written that has become the reality of Eagle Rock will remain in our minds and hearts forever, as will he.

Gary Kessler

Board Chair, Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center President, American Honda Education Corporation

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