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Finding the Best High School in New York City

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Everyone wants the best, naturally. Especially when it comes to education. So how can you find the “best” school? Let me guess; you started your high school search on the Internet. If you type in a few keywords like “best NYC high schools” or “top Manhattan private high schools,” you probably found a nice list of possible options. But did you really find the best high school for you? There are many nuances that differentiate one school from another and, just like the college admissions process, identifying the right school for you may not always be what people consider being the “Ivy League” category of private schools. As a headmaster for over 25 years, I’ve worked with students and their families from just about every private boarding and day school within commuting distance to us. I’ve had numerous conversations about why a particular school wasn’t a good fit for the student and, from those discussions, I’ve learned that it isn’t always about how a school ranks in the hierarchy of...read more

Topics: New York City private schools, private school

Students: Giving Yourself the Gift of a Broad Education

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

As an educator with several years of experience working with a wide array of students in various educational contexts, I am concerned about the specialization trend that is taking place in schools at increasingly lower grade levels. While it is important that students identify their intellectual interests, they may miss opportunities to discover unexpected interests and to develop fully as a thinker. As a greater percentage of high school graduates begin to pursue college education, competition for professional employment increases. This is driving college students to be as pragmatic as possible when selecting their majors, so as to be optimally competitive in the workplace when they graduate. This trend is understandable, although perhaps unfortunate for many whose interior lives could be enriched by supplementing their studies of business practices and economics with the study of world literatures, for example. The tracking of high school students into career-focused curricula takes...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, education, well-rounded, Newman, Rotella, Boston Globe, tracking

Finding and Applying for Scholarships for High School Students

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

As families feel the economic squeeze more and more, financial aid will become increasingly more important when selecting a private high school.  Paying tuition on top of trying to save for college can put a huge strain on the family budget. The simple solution is seeking a high school scholarship. Simple, yes; but not easy--it takes a lot of planning. There are two main sources of funding for scholarships for high school students--the school itself as well as national and regional scholarship and voucher programs. Similar to college scholarships, they can be need- or merit-based. Financial aid is limited and goes quickly. Getting an early jump on working with a school that you have selected is vital. My advice is to apply for financial assistance as early as possible since, in most cases, funds are limited (many programs allocate financial aid before March 1). I’m always surprised when a parent contacts me in the late spring or summer and asks about financial aid for the fall...read more

Topics: financial aid, scholarships, merit award, George Higgins

Cheaper and Easier Isn't the Best Plan When Preparing for College

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Just as in almost every other field, there is competition among schools.  While we like to take the lofty attitude that we are above that, the reality is that with a limited population and many seats to fill, all schools need to be sensitive to attracting potential new members to their student body.  To do that, a multitude of devices are employed such as attractive tuition fees and weakened curricula--often at the expense of quality of education when the goal is a solid college preparatory program. Certainly, most of us have learned that the most expensive isn’t always the best either; so looking at cost shouldn’t be the sole factor when looking for a school.  But since raising kids in New York City is so pricey, understandably, most parents do need to consider costs when making educational decisions.  Financial aid may help, although resources can be limited and many parents aren’t getting as much as they would have liked.  If you have a student with specific needs, your options may...read more

Topics: college prep, New York City private schools, online school, George Higgins

Dystopias for our Times

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Every so often, I find myself teaching novels that are incredibly timely. In a time when the basic humanity of various groups is being questioned or even outright ignored, we may turn to literature to discover the consequences of such ideologies. The following novels share a sense that a social plan that ignores the fundamental truth about human dignity is doomed. But which doom we end up with is up to us: will these dystopian societies fail against the glow of the human spirit, or will we bargain away our shot at fulfillment for mere contentment, or even base survival? These novels ask these deep questions for our times: 1984: In this classic dystopia, George Orwell warns us about tyrannical governments whose only purpose is to be a boot crushing a face for all of eternity. In this society, surveillance is universal through a two-way screen that is in every home. Today’s smartphones make for a startling update on the telescreens which, instead of being in everyone’s living rooms, are...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, literature, dystopia, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley, 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World

Math Phobias

Authored by Kate Bendrick, Math Teacher

When I was in my early twenties, I spent a summer at a monastery with some remarkable nuns. The beekeeper had been on Wall Street, the woman in charge of milk, butter, and cheese had been a lawyer. I was wildly impressed at the wide range of accomplishments this cheese expert laid in front of me (don’t forget prayers in Gregorian chant seven times a day). And yet, despite all her life experience, she confessed a complete and total paralysis when faced with math. Math phobia. Math anxiety. “I’m not good at math.” It’s natural to have a most preferred and a least preferred subject (my least preferred is history). But rarely does anyone talk about a history phobia or a geography phobia or a feeling of crushing anxiety at the prospect of social science class. My acquaintance in the dairy had avoided learning math for half her life as a result of her negative emotions associated with it. At the time I arrived on the scene, she was conquering her fears in order to relearn high school math....read more

Topics: math, Kate Bendrick

College Preparation: Within and Beyond the Academics

Authored by Scott Steinberg, College Guidance Counselor

College preparation is more than just the classes you take and the grades you earn. Undeniably, the choice of college prep classes for high school students has a great impact on both the admission outcomes and your academic success in college. However, there are other important, non-academic aspects of the college-readiness process that are key for making college a success. The years spent in secondary school are also the perfect time for exploring your strengths and passions and turning them into objectives. Additionally, mastering life skills, such as self-discipline and time management, as well as building up your confidence and developing a lifelong love of learning, is essential for handling the challenges of college life. Smart Course Choices In my 34 years as a school counselor, I’ve come to the conclusion that successful college students are those who’ve challenged themselves academically throughout high school, rather than just attending the best college prep high schools....read more

Topics: college, college prep, Scott Steinberg

What's an Accredited Online School?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Is your online program an accredited online high school?  What is an “accredited high school”?  Why should you even care??? If you are hoping to go to college, you will either need a diploma from an accredited high school or it’s equivalent (something like the GED, TASC, or other high school equivalency exam).  Why an accredited high school?  Well, colleges (as well as trade schools, art schools, and even the military) would like to know that a certain standard is being met when you get your high school diploma.  Did your U.S. History course cover the Revolutionary War?  Did your Algebra class teach you how to solve equations?  These may seem like obvious things, but if your school isn’t accredited, it may not include certain basic skills and information that are considered to be the minimum baseline of knowledge for a high school diploma. Most brick-and-mortar schools you will find nowadays are accredited—it’s an expectation of most of their customers (students and their families). ...read more

Topics: Online course, high school, online school, Maren Holmen

The Sound Effects are Free

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

When I worked in the production/post-production business there was a running joke in our video and audio edit sessions: “The sound effects are free.”  Originally, this was due to the fact that clients often didn’t understand why they had to pay for them.  And so, we just gave them away for free as a perk.  More importantly, the joke applied to the way a client described an action they wanted to see in an animation.  Invariably the action was described with verbal sounds. For instance, “I don’t want the lightning to go ‘ke-POW,’ I want a ‘ker-rackle.’”  And almost always, the visual was conveyed successfully. Now that I am at Beekman teaching 3D graphics animation,  I often have my students asking me how to do certain animations.  The other day a student asked me, “How do I make my plane go fast?”  I asked, “Fast? How so?”  “You know, whooooooosh.”  I laughed and said to myself, “Yes, the sound effects are free.” The use of sound effects as descriptors is nothing new.  We all use them...read more

Topics: Cavin Thuring

Faculty Q&A with History Teacher Raven Koch

Authored by The Beekman School

Raven grew up in rural America, relocating to New York City in her late 20s to bear witness to an energizing art scene.  Identifying as a writer and a multi-media artist herself, she feels very much at the mercy of a voracious sense of curiosity which has led her into a wide variety of educational environments, both formal and informal. With degrees in Linguistics, Acupuncture, and Nursing, Raven kicked off the 2015-2016 school year as a full-time history teacher, marking the start of her sixth year of service to The Beekman School.  She has previously held the positions of Business Manager and Tutor.  So, you wanted to be a lexicographer? Yeah. I loved dictionaries and diagramming sentences growing up.  I would pore over dictionaries looking for places to improve it, like spots that should really say, “of or pertaining to,” that kind of thing.  [laughs] I guess I was a pretty arrogant kid. So why didn’t it happen? I suppose because life happened instead.  I started working in social...read more

Topics: faculty, history, Raven Koch


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