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Early Decision: What Happens if You Back Out?

Authored by Kristin Schmidt, College Guidance Counselor

Early Decision (ED) is a very appealing application option. Students who apply early decision know their admission decision before the New Year and, if accepted, they are set free from the grueling college application process. For many students, knowing their college plans as soon as possible is a huge relief. Applying early decision is very tempting; however, students must be cognizant of that to which they are agreeing. The early decision application is a binding contract where, by signing the agreement, a student is committing to enroll at a first-choice institution if accepted and then withdraw all applications to other schools. Not only does the student sign the agreement, her parents and school counselor do as well. This is not a decision to be made lightly. A student should only apply ED if she is 100% certain that this school is her dream school and the best possible match for her. But what if a student changes his mind? What if he gets accepted to another school that he...read more

Topics: college, early decision, Kristin Schmidt

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...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, student success, alumni

Personalized Learning: What We Can Learn from the One-Room Schoolhouse

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Imagine this: a one-room schoolhouse, filled with students of all ages.  I’m sure you probably have a picture in your mind that is similar to a scene out of “Little House on the Prairie”—and a sense that this is an antiquated and out-dated mode of education.  The concept of one teacher working with a variety of students who are at different levels doesn’t tie in with our image of a modern/technological society. However, personalized learning does just that.  As any teacher can tell you, a classroom of 15 different students is a classroom with 15 different levels and specific learning needs.  Technology is helping teachers (and students) meet the individual needs of a particular course while keeping the benefits of a group setting.  Flipped classrooms, online problem sets, and search engines help solve some of the problems hindering true personalized education in traditional schools.  But does this mean that the computer does the teaching?  Absolutely not!  This access to technology...read more

Topics: personalized education, personalized learning, Maren Holmen

More than Greeks: Foundations of Western Culture

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

                            The Tetractys There was a man here, Pythagoras, ...living in voluntary exile. Though the gods were far away, he visited their region of the sky, in his mind, and what nature denied to human vision he enjoyed with his inner eye. -Ovid, Metamorphoses, Bk XV When I went to high school, it was taught that Western culture was the inheritor of the achievement in thoughts and beliefs of the ancient Greek philosophers. Figures like Pythagoras gave us great theorems of geometry, such as:  a^2 + b^2 = c^2 and taught that the whole of reality was generated and governed by numbers. It was (and still is) taught that Pythagoras, along with Plato, Socrates, and the rest were the foundation of rational thought and philosophy.  But, while that is all well and good, so much was and is left out.  What is selectively taught leaves an incomplete view of these men and their contributions to western culture. And what wasn’t and isn’t taught is that they were all mystics.  They...read more

Topics: Ovid, Greek, Pythagoras, philosophy, Cavin Thuring

Mind the Gap Year

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

If you’ve ever been on the London tube, you’ve seen the signs that say, MIND THE GAP. Given that it’s college application season, my message to parents is,  “Mind the gap year.” I know what you’re thinking: “If my child took a year off before college, she’d never go back to school. She’ll become a GAP salesclerk for life.” My response is, “Not if you handle the process correctly.” First, let’s talk logic. The notion that all 18-year-olds are somehow ready to matriculate is ludicrous. Young children don’t learn to read at the same age; some boys get facial hair at 13, others at 16. Eighteen-year-old students do not suddenly move in lockstep, each fully prepared to choose a major and work towards it. Your Starbucks barista or assistant cheese cutter at Eataly might very well be a college drop-out—possibly demoralized by the fact that she failed because she didn’t want to go in the first place. Moreover, you, the parent—for your hard-earned $50,000—have nothing to show for the year but a...read more

Topics: college, James Vescovi

College Placement - Finding What's Right For You

Authored by Kristin Schmidt, College Guidance Counselor

There are approximately 4,500 colleges in the United States. Whether your child wants to attend a traditional four-year institution, community college, musical conservatory, or an art institute, higher education is a viable option for everyone. As a college placement counselor, if I had to choose the most important thing for students and families to remember about the college process it would be that college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won. For seniors, the college process has been built up since kindergarten. Now, after just a few short months in the fall, it is finally coming to an end and many students are ready to take control of their education and be accountable for their future. While it is an exciting process with so many possibilities, it can also be draining, time-consuming, and sometimes crushing. There is a lingering fear of rejection that hangs over students’ heads throughout the entire process. If they don’t get accepted to a top-name school, they may feel...read more

Topics: college prep, college, Kristin Schmidt

Preparing for College

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

What does college preparation mean? Quite simply, it’s being ready to embrace and succeed with the rigors of college by the time you receive your diploma.  That is a four-year process that requires focus, discipline, and planning.  Many students are unsure of how to prepare for college in high school.    When should you start preparing for college? The process begins in the 9th grade and continues through your senior year of high school.  Always take the highest level of the core academic courses that your school offers and that you feel you have the educational foundation in which to do well.  That means avoiding AP Chemistry if your strengths are in the humanities.  Most people have areas of strength and weakness.  Unfortunately, you’re still going to have to take some upper-level math classes even if you are a stronger student in English.  Make sure your transcript reflects your areas of strength while continuing to get the highest grades that you can in the subjects that aren’t...read more

Topics: college prep, college, George Higgins

"Don't Boo--Vote!"

Authored by Gabriella Skwara, History Teacher

This week marked the final presidential debate prior to Election Day 2016. In just under three weeks, we will head to the polls and select our next president. For history teachers, election years provide a wealth of ready-made lesson topics and fuel for class discussions. However the premise has been tested this year, as the election has become increasingly contentious and the political debates have become personal instead of substantive. Faced with these realities, the election has become a more difficult one to properly address in a classroom setting. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that my role as a history teacher encompasses more than merely teaching about the past. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this election, there is no question that this is a historical election year and one that future students will encounter in their textbooks some day. This fits with one of the ideas that I like to convey to students, that they themselves are historical subjects. With this in mind,...read more

Topics: vote, election, Newsela, president, debate, Gabriella Skwara

Something’s Gotta Give: Flexibility vs. Academics

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Every student is unique. We know this better than anyone and we’ve spent the last nine decades making it possible for this uniqueness to complement a top-quality education. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, with their specific ways of learning, particular interests, and distinct aspirations. This individuality is celebrated by the flexibility and the choices they are able to make for themselves at Beekman. Curtis (learning differences) was a hard-working student who struggled with foreign languages.  In The Tutoring School, Curtis was able to follow the same curriculum taught in our Beekman program but at a slower pace.  By extending his Spanish classes through June, he was able to gain a concrete understanding of the language that would have been very difficult in a faster-paced classroom. Lisa (extracurricular activities) was a dedicated ballet dancer who trained multiple hours every day.  She needed a program that allowed her to take classes during the first half of...read more

Topics: flexible curriculum, flexible schedules, flexible scheduling, Maren Holmen

Calm in the Digital Storm

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Popular wisdom says this generation of students is digitally native, and that they have facility with digital technology that people even of my generation (I’m just on the upper edge of millenial) don’t have. Indeed, in my household we had a family computer all through my years in high school. Cell phones were still relatively novel, and the iPhone was not even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. This difference in perspective led to my over-enthusiasm for introducing digital technology in the classroom. Last year, I ran headlong into digital without really knowing how my students would respond. I was excited by the grand experiment as well as my own newly-developed skills, and assumed that my students would be right there with me. Children need to learn how to do things, and it doesn’t matter whether they are native to the skill or not. Kids are impulsive and easily distracted. Their brains aren’t fully grown yet, including that prefrontal cortex which governs executive functioning. You...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, note-taking, digital, Notability, technology

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