– Public Allies, Idealist, and how changemakers are tackling education in Colorado

Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is located in Estes Park, Colorado, nestled in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. A corporate social responsibility initiative of the American Honda Motor Company, Eagle Rock is a tuition-free residential high school for students who have not succeeded in conventional schools. It also houses a professional development center for teachers and is home to a group of 12 AmeriCorps Public Allies fellows

As we highlight the great work happening in Colorado this month, we reached out to several Public Allies Alums from Eagle Rock to talk about why they loved working in Colorado and how Idealist played a role in their careers.

Denise SquareDenise Lord

What is your current position? And tell us a bit about what you do day-to-day.

My current position is Life After Eagle Rock Coordinator at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center. I work mostly with students to help them solidify their post-graduation plans and prepare them for future employment, higher education, and life in general. I also help students with resumes, cover letters, job applications, and more.

How have you used in the past? Did you use it to find your current job? Past jobs?

I used Idealist to search for jobs once I finished college. It seemed most of the jobs there require a bit of experience, but I was lucky enough to find the year-long Public Allies Teaching Fellowship through the website, which is how I ended up at Eagle Rock in the first place. I’ve now been at the school for almost 7 years. If it weren’t for Idealist I may never have found or heard of Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center!

How long have you been in Colorado? What is your favorite part about living and working there?

I have been in Colorado for almost 7 years now. I love the sunshine, the access to the outdoors, and all the folks who want to get out and enjoy it. Living in Estes Park affords a lot of great opportunities with Rocky Mountain National Park in our backyard.

How did the Public Allies Fellowship impact you and your future career?

The Public Allies Fellowship was great. I was able to be in the classroom, gain experience teaching, develop my own curriculum, and ultimately became certified as a K-12 Spanish teacher as a result of my fellowship. It afforded me the opportunity to gain experience in the field and expand into the position I currently hold.

Michael SquareMichael Dunn

What is your current position?

I currently work as an Upper School History instructor and Service Learning coordinator at AIM Academy, a small independent school in Conshohocken, PA. After leaving a Public Allies Service Learning teaching fellowship at Eagle Rock School, I moved to Philadelphia to work on a school founding team. I spent a year on this team and moved on to my current position.

How long were you in Colorado? What was your favorite part about living and working there?

I lived in Colorado from August of 2008 to August of 2009. My favorite part about living and working at Eagle Rock in Colorado was the passionate people I met, many of whom have become lifelong colleagues and friends. The group I was fortunate to be part of was a collection of outstanding educators, dedicated service providers, and fun-loving individuals. Did I mention that we worked in the middle of the Rocky Mountains?!

How has Idealist helped you get where you are today?

I often find myself using Idealist as a repository for learning about local nonprofits and job openings. The past three positions I have been in have all come from Idealist.

One of the most helpful elements to Idealist is that it is committed to providing a space for nonprofits to reach out to a targeted crowd. As someone who is committed to working in the nonprofit (specifically the education) sector, Idealist’s mission is both admirable and useful—a delicate balance of practical idealism.

My favorite part about the site is easily the job board, but I also love the blog. The articles posted on the blog speak to many of my interests: business innovation, education, non-profit work, inspirational people. I just finished reading “Lessons on being creative from highly creative people.”

How did the Public Allies Fellowship impact you and your future career?

The Public Allies Fellowship at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center literally changed my life. It moved me out of my lifelong home, Detroit; helped me appreciate the beauty of a fantastic place, the Rocky Mountains; and recommitted my career path to education.

Before completing the fellowship, I was floundering as to what I wanted to pursue. Did I want to continue attending graduate school? Did I want to start a nonprofit? Did I want to move to a farm? Everything was on the table. I had always thought that education was a strong interest, but was unsure as to its feasibility as a career option. After going through countless hours of invaluable leadership training facilitated by Public Allies, and spending many nights in awesome conversations with colleagues, I realized that education was where I was meant to be. Public Allies and Eagle Rock were the catalyst for this change in my life.

What are your goals when it comes to your career?

I would love to impact the education world in an innovative, positive, and meaningful way. Whether it be in the public or independent school realm, at the political or school level, I want to use my creativity to push the envelope of what is expected in our schools.

Jamie SquareJamie Radenbaugh

What is your current position? And tell us a bit about what you do day-to-day.

I am currently working as the Director of Fenton Ranch for Manzano Day School. Manzano Day School is a non-profit elementary school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Fenton Ranch is a beautiful property in the Jemez Mountains, owned and operated by Manzano Day School to provide environmental education opportunities to all of it’s students, Kindergarten through 5th grade. I run this residential facility, hire staff, plan curriculum, and work to provide meaningful connection to our natural world for all of the students that come to Fenton Ranch. I also manage a residential summer camp program as well at Fenton Ranch for Kindergarten-7th grade students.

How did Idealist help you get where you are today?

Idealist really jump started my career and has allowed me to find a very specialized niche in my work in service learning, experiential education, and environmental education. My first three jobs out of college were all found using Idealist! Starting with wilderness therapy on the Appalachian Trail, to the Public Allies Fellowship at Eagle Rock School in Colorado, and lastly to youth development work in rural New Mexico, Idealist has helped me identify challenging, inspiring, and meaningful work every step of the way!

How did the Public Allies Fellowship impact you and your future career?

The Public Allies Fellowship exposed me to my early experiences in organizational learning and effective experiential learning. Eagle Rock School has a powerful support structure, visionary leadership, and bold explorations in educational models. It allowed me to discover myself as an educator and to conceptualize what effective schools and nonprofits look like.

What are your goals when it comes to your career?

Eventually I would like to open a residential wilderness therapy facility that incorporates family, group, and individual approaches. Often, youth wilderness programs focus exclusively on the individual. I value building skills and working on growth within the family unit as well as in a focused, natural setting.