NAIS Inspiration Lab – Learning Experiences Help Students Find Their Potential, Attain Their Dreams

Eagle Rock School students aren’t admitted as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors, but rather as adolescents interested in taking control of their lives and learning. They must complete a minimum of six trimesters, time for sufficient personal growth and character development. Graduation is based on demonstrated competencies rather than more traditional “seat time” and grades.

Eagle Rock’s intentionally interdisciplinary classes are referred to as “Learning Experiences,” and take place in 5- and 10-week schedules, and in half-or full-day blocks. Most students earn credit through coursework, but alternative activities such as teaching a class, off-campus service projects, or independent study can also help fulfill graduation requirements.

This trimester, Winter Ecology students are honing their telemark skiing techniques as they examine the ecological relationships that animals and plants have to winter. Twice-a-week investigations also involve exploring the mountain ecosystem.

The Feeling Lucky experience has students wrestling with questions surrounding the casino gaming industry, examining the mathematics of gambling, and considering the implications for our broader society.

Environmental Racism students focus on how colonization led to systemic racism, with dangerous environmental effects. Amari, a current student, says it was new to her “that this type of discrimination happens in urban, low-income communities where people are forced to live close to environmentally dangerous places, such as toxic waste and pollution sites.” She also appreciates that “classes are hands-on and we have positive debates.”

“Our goal is to provide effective and engaging practices that foster each student’s unique potential and help them use their minds well,” says Jen Frickey, Director of Curriculum. “We’re advocating for young people, particularly those who have been told their dreams are unattainable.”