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Learn Your Way: What it Takes to Build a Dream School

Authored by The Beekman School

This post introduces a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversation using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  When the producers of “Dream School: NYC” called us about partnering with them this season, we were initially surprised. “Working with students who have dropped out of school is not our focus,” we thought. “Why us?” They noted that they had been referred to us because of our ability to create a unique program that could fit the needs of this unusual group of kids. It made perfect sense. This was a great opportunity for Beekman to share the expertise we built in personalized education. After all, we pioneered this movement before there even was such a thing. Most schools look for students who fit their program. However, we make sure the program is designed to fit the student....read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, personalized education, personalized learning

5 Reasons Why Teens Should Create Their Own Epic Rap Battle of History

Authored by Anastasia Georgoulis, History Teacher

If you’ve been on the subway recently, you may have noticed ads plastered across the trains for Epic Rap Battles of History. My students introduced me to them last year, and anytime we studied a featured character they’d immediately request to watch the video. Given the enthusiasm my students showed as an audience, I came up with a list of 5 reasons why they should create their own rap battle videos. We all want to be the reason over a million people do something, like watch a video. Most people, as themselves, would be criticized for rapping. Everyone enjoys when Abraham Lincoln raps. Explaining history to someone else is the most effective way to study history. Writing a historically accurate rhyme is a great literacy project. You can propose it as an extra credit project to your history teacher (hint hint, wink wink). Bonus Reason: Ladies, the number of videos featuring female characters from history is seriously lacking. If you need some inspiration, check out this link. My...read more

Topics: rap battles, history, Anastasia Georgoulis

Failure is Not an Option

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

I hail from the great state of Texas where everything is bigger and better, and the true spirit of competition is still alive on high school football fields every Friday night in the fall. I grew up in a house where a B was failing and not bringing home the pageant crown was unacceptable. My Mexican-American mom was a Tiger Mom before extreme parenting was cool.  I think my Texas roots and upbringing shaped the high expectations that I hold each of my students to today. Several one-time failures owe their success to subscribing to these same high expectations.  We’ve all heard the stories about how Elvis got a D in music and Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity basketball team. Did you know that the guy who invented Post-Its, Art Fry, used a failed super glue formula, and Alexander Fleming was studying bacteria when a mold began to grow in one of his petri dishes and he accidentally discovered penicillin?  Though they may have started as failures, their ultimate success was the...read more

Topics: persistence, advice, success, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

I Love Graduation!

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

I’ve attended dozens of graduations in my lifetime.  They often follow the same format: a couple of prominent speakers (relative to the audience), a little laughter, a few tears, and graduates who don’t remember much about the ceremony a year, a month, or sometimes even a day after the fact.  Yet every once in a while, there’s a moment that stands out from the rest, ensuring that you’ll carry part of that graduation with you for a long time. Our graduation ceremony this year had more than one of these moments.  It certainly didn’t hurt that our graduation speaker was Robert De Niro.  George Higgins, our headmaster, convinced him to speak by promising that “no one will remember what you said—do you remember what your graduation speaker said?”  And that statement is true for one big reason: this ceremony isn’t about who gave the commencement address, it’s about those who are graduating.  Friends, family, and faculty all come together to celebrate with these students who have achieved a...read more

Topics: New York City private schools, private school, community, graduation, alumni, Maren Holmen

Why Transferring Schools Can Be a Good Thing

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

When you hear the term “transfer student,” you often think of the new kid in town or the person who’s been asked to leave a school.  But a growing number of parents and students are choosing to follow their instincts and leave their current school voluntarily, going against the advice of friends and school professionals in order to establish a fresh start. Conventional wisdom suggests that students’ college admission chances are increased by showing that they’ve been at the same school for their entire high school career.  However, what happens when the school that was a good fit for your 5-, 10-, or 13-year-old isn’t the best fit for your 16-year-old?  Do you stick it out for another two years, hoping that your student can just get through it?  Or do you make the choice to leave, providing an opportunity to find a place where your child can thrive and learn to excel, not just “get by”? In my 20+ years as headmaster of The Beekman School, I’ve met with dozens of families who are torn...read more

Topics: transfer, admissions, rolling admissions, New York City private schools, private school, George Higgins

Is Summer School Going to Ruin Your Summer Plans?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

When the dreaded news comes, every student and parent worries that summer school in NYC is going to mess up vacation, camp, or job plans.  It really doesn’t have to if you start developing your educational strategy now. Most final grades are not available until mid-June, which leaves only a few weeks to organize an academic program.  Traditional summer schools have very rigid start/end dates and very specific class times.  If cost is a factor, these programs are going to be your best option.  Beekman offers a 6-week session for students to repeat, complete, or advance credits in core academic subjects (English, history, math, and science). For the family that is looking for a personalized, flexible program that can work around pre-made summer plans, The Tutoring School (a division of The Beekman School) can provide summer school tutoring by designing a schedule that will not interfere with activities that are already in place.  The Tutoring School can also provide enrichment high...read more

Topics: Summer School, Summer, tutoring, George Higgins

“Simpsons” Overtakes “Big Bang” in Mathability

Authored by Charlie Sitler, Math Teacher

Of course it caught my eye.  Any headline containing both “The Simpsons” and the phrase “most mathematical” was a slam dunk. And so it was with great interest that I read the article sent to me by Maren from The Irish Examiner detailing the lecture by Professor Simon Singh in which he praised the popular TV show The Simpsons for being "the most mathematical TV show ever". I myself am a fan of The Simpsons.  Over the years I have bonded with my younger son by watching the couch gags with him, and then hung around to laugh my way through the rest of the episode.  It is my considered opinion that after The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons is probably the funniest scripted comedy show on TV. But “most mathematical”? Big Bang has Sheldon Cooper front and center, and his tritest remarks would seem to leave Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!” in the dust.  And yet…  Last December, I was casting about for a new Spring elective at The Beekman School, and I was well aware of how the Simpsons brand might be a...read more

Topics: Simpsons, Big Bang, mathematics, Charlie Sitler

Internet Inspiration

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

It’s time for summer, and with the end of your beloved computer course comes the great possibility that all that hard-learned software knowledge will go out the window.  It takes practice and more practice to retain the acumen of using programs like Photoshop or Maya.  And if you don’t have your own personal copy, how are you going to keep that acuity? There are a couple of ways to keep your knowledge from deteriorating even if you do not have direct access to the software.  Two of the best ways are watching tutorials and devising your own projects.  I recommend you start by watching some tutorials fist and then dreaming up your own project based on those tutorials, so you can come up with a step-by-step plan of execution for your software of choice.  This method will reinforce your knowledge, preserve and build upon what you learned. Why start with tutorials?  Tutorials help you develop techniques you would never have thought of while using tools you are familiar with.  As you gain...read more

Topics: Maya, Photoshop, Summer, Cavin Thuring

Mythology Among the Stars

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Students created a class-wide project for Mythology in which we explored the connections between myth and the names of the celestial bodies in the solar system. “I learned that the planets and moons have a connection,” one student said. Planets have moons named after characters that appear in their stories. The former planet Pluto, named after the god of the underworld (the Greek Hades), has a moon named Charon, who steered the boat of souls across the Styx into Pluto’s realm. For some, it was a chance to learn more about an already beloved topic. “I had the exciting experience to look into the background of my favorite mythological story, Pygmalion and Galatea.” One student  really appreciated the opportunity “to put physical things together and see what I was learning.” For another, “my creativity ran wild as I was brainstorming the model for Gaia. I painted her in colors that represent the Earth. This is what made it fun!” But more than that, “I had the ability to bond with my...read more

Topics: mythology, solar system, astronomy, students, Michelle Koza

Alumnus Profile: Emma Eden Ramos '07

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

When Emma Eden Ramos walked into The Beekman School in 2003, she found a haven. “Beekman gave me the opportunity to be myself without feeling self-conscious or ashamed,” she says. Moreover, the school also allowed her to focus on her studies and her dreams. After graduating, Emma earned a B.S. in Psychology at Marymount in 2007.  While she imagines eventually earning an M.S.W., her focus now is her writing, and in a short time she’s achieved a great deal of success. Her first fiction book was a middle-grade novella called The Realm of the Lost, published in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing, and her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Legendary, The Citron Review, BlazeVOX Journal, and other journals. She also writes poetry and her chapbook, Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems, was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry. Her latest book, published this year, is Still, At Your Door: A Fictional Memoir. What did you take away...read more

Topics: alumni, author, English, writing, psychology, James Vescovi


We are welcoming students to class this spring either via a hybrid in-person/online learning model in NYC (following our Spring Break), or via fully remote, synchronous online classes.  Learn more about our response to COVID-19 >