For citizens in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America
The Program: The Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center at Estes Park, Colo., is both a residential school for high school age students and a professional development center for educators. The 96 students share two characteristics – they do not expect to graduate from high school but have a passion about making a change in their lives. The Center hosts educators from around the world who study how to re-engage the students in learning, keep them in school, get them graduated, and help them go on to make a difference in the world. Twelve AmeriCorps members live and serve at Eagle Rock through the Public Allies Fellowship program, participating in all aspects of the school’s program.
The Results: The AmeriCorps Public Allies Fellows are an important part of the team that implements a curriculum that stresses environmental and outdoor education combined with community service. After two-to-three years, the students graduate and go on to college or their first jobs. The program provides the 12 Fellows with an advanced year of service and leadership training focused on education and youth development. Each Fellow is paired with a mentor, usually an Instructional Specialist with whom the Fellow will be working closely for the year. Fellows are offered a teaching certificate through an alternative licensure program in collaboration with Colorado’s Department of Education. There are daily learning experiences, weekly Fellow Learning Seminars, and three Fellow Retreats. The Fellows work with the students in the classroom, on outdoor activities, and in community service projects.
Why It Works: The Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center was established by the American Honda Education Corporation, a subsidiary of the American Honda Motor Company. The school is tuition free and the students apply for admission by choice. The Professional Development Center provides opportunities to develop innovative curricula and teaching methods. Eagle Rock is one of 10 sites served by the Public Allies AmeriCorps National Direct program. There are collaborations with other AmeriCorps programs. In November, members from the Boulder I Have A Dream Foundation program participated in a Fellows Learning Seminar and in October an AmeriCorps*NCCC Civics Troup from the Denver campus presented their “Civic Engagement” play to students, Fellows, and faculty.
Lessons: Program Director Dan Condon says, “We are a community of learners who value personal as well as professional growth. We are standards based with high expectations. We have an orientation toward application of learning.” Through their experience at Eagle Rock, the AmeriCorps Public Allies Fellows, the students who gain from a unique learning experience, and educators coming to the Professional Development Center, all come away better prepared to learn, serve, and lead.