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Notable Student Success Stories: Ian Rusten

Authored By: 
Ian Rusten, History Teacher

I taught at a very large public school for a number of years.  I had about 34 students in each class, which makes it very challenging to provide each student with the individual attention and support they deserve. Then I became a teacher at The Beekman School. What a change it has been! I teach in a small townhouse setting with small class sizes that allow me to tailor the lessons to my student’s interests. The largest classes at Beekman have 9 or 10 students. As a result, I can provide each of my students with individualized attention.

During my first year at the school, I had a student who was very shy.  She did not want to say a word.   At our school you notice this kind of thing.  I knew that English was not her first language, and wondered if this contributed to her shyness in class.   However, once she started turning in her homework, I realized that she was a wonderful writer in English! I had the opportunity to stop her after class on day and complimented her on her writing.  

I also took the opportunity to ask her why she did not participate in class discussions.  She told me she was very shy and was afraid she would be teased. I told her that, at Beekman, she did not have to worry about that in class. In our small classes, students embrace differences.  She listened! And the next day, she bravely answered a question in class. Nobody laughed; in fact, it generated a great conversation!

All of her teachers took the time to give her individual attention, and by the end of the year, she’d developed into a confident public speaker, ready to share her opinions!  I think that having small and supportive classes at Beekman encouraged her as she found her voice in the classroom.