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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

History Across Content Areas

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

History shouldn’t be static. It’s not just a list of dates and events. History is truly about an in-depth look at a period-- its authors, artists, scientists, inventors, historians and participants. A study of history should include a close look at books by authors who study the era, who lived in the era, who wrote about the era. Let’s take the 1920s, a time of great change in the United States. The 1920s saw the rise of post-War isolationism, the literature from the lost generation, the music, literature and art of the Harlem Renaissance, the clash between conformity and rebellion, the growth of cubism, the rise of art-deco, the celebration of jazz, the birth of surrealism, remarkable inventions and innovations, and then the devastation of the Great Depression. Summer is a perfect time to delve into an era, or a moment in history and read the novels, poem, biographies and histories of the era.  If I were going to compile a selection of books about the 1920s, my list would like...read more

Topics: history, literature, reading, summer reading, cross curricular, Ian Rusten

Failure: An Invaluable Component of a True Education

Authored by Raven Koch, Business Manager

It is the failures in our lives, rather than the successes, that have guided our way toward expertise.  Failure is a profound teacher.  The experience of failure can show us how to improve.  Success only demonstrates what we’ve already learned.  In fact, too much success, coming too easily, can lead to boredom, loss of interest, and over-confidence.  When failure is repeatedly experienced, but success still seems possible, people are driven to improve in order to achieve the reward of success.  It is the failures themselves that teach us the way to that success. We are fortunate that failure presents such opportunities for growth and mastery, because most people experience many more failures than successes. In fact, the more failures you experience, the more likely it is that your eventual success will be bigger and sweeter than someone who has failed less often at the same task.  Take any profession as an example.  Let’s look at acting.  Let’s define success in this profession as the...read more

Topics: success, failure, teaching, learning, Raven Koch


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