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Private School Rankings and the High School Myth

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Are you starting to look for a school next year?  Just like the college admission game, getting into a private high school in Manhattan can be a strategizing and stressful experience.  Although there isn’t a report like the one U.S. News & World Report publishes so parents can see top ranking schools, there is an unspoken hierarchy passed among parents and other education professionals as to which schools are “the best.” Given the ease of the Internet, most parents would begin with a Google search.  Something like “ranking nyc private schools.”  And guess who shows up at the top: paid advertisers!  (If you’re not careful, or don’t know the ins-and-outs of how Google works, you might miss that subtle line across the page or ignore it as irrelevant.) What follows below the line is a listing of organizations that work with all of the private schools and should be unbiased in their rankings.  What do you think they have to say to parents who want to know who’s at the top?  One website...read more

Topics: New York City private schools, high school rankings, George Higgins

You’re a Unique Person; We’re a Unique School!

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Do you ever feel like you just don’t fit in at your school?  Mean kids, exclusive cliques, lunchroom gossip, bullying in the halls, unfriendly teachers, no one listens to you and no one cares?  Most teenagers feel that way at one time or another, but when the atmosphere at school becomes so oppressive that it’s keeping you from performing at your best, it’s time for a change. Your school day takes up the majority of your daylight hours.  Feeling miserable while trying to learn is not the optimum environment for success.  NYC private schools can be a challenging, even intimidating place for prep school teens.  Even the best prep schools face the challenge of trying to meet the needs of each individual.  We are a college prep school with over 85 years of experience in creating an academic program and facilitating a social setting that promotes the qualities that a wide variety of students have deemed important during their high school years. The Beekman School, founded in 1925,...read more

Topics: The Beekman School, personalized education, personalized learning, New York City private schools, George Higgins

Learning Outside the Classroom

Authored by Linli Chin, Math Teacher

Learning can take place anytime, anywhere. Most of our learning in math occurs while we are at school, but a student’s ability to grasp and concretely understand the concepts can differ significantly from one child to the next. While some students are able to fully comprehend the given concepts with a short explanation coupled with an example, others may require further assistance in order for them to fully master the concept. While the teaching that takes place in class tries to accommodate all students, when your child is struggling to keep up, what are some available resources to help them? A tutor can be helpful if your child needs personalized attention and is struggling in the class, but that can be quite costly. There are plenty of other options available online, some free and some for a small fee, that can support the learning done in class should they require minimal additional support. Here are some of the websites that are helpful to both parents and students in order to...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, web-based learning, mathematics, flipped classroom

What it Takes to Learn Your Way: A Personalized Approach

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

This post is part of 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. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay. After watching last week’s final episode of “Dream School: NYC,” I wanted to reflect on what we’ve learned from this experience. This has been a challenging journey for all parties involved: students, faculty, parents, mentors, and partners such as The Beekman School.  But it has also been a rewarding one. When I was first asked to be part of the filming process for the show, I wanted to decline. They say teaching is an art, but I know that, from the outside, the process of teaching doesn’t look like art. It’s ugly and weird, and teachers have to be willing to put their...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, The Beekman School, Maren Holmen, personalized education

Beekman: Teaching to the Individual

Authored by The Beekman School

Our national school system, public and private alike, is designed for keeping a group of students as homogeneous as possible.  Even with all of the claims of “teaching to the individual” that a traditional school makes, there has to be a level of keeping everyone in the class at the same pace, leaving some students behind and holding others back.  How, then, can you truly teach to the individual? At Beekman, we have a variety of resources to support students for whom traditional course progressions don’t work. A portion of our students come from unconventional or foreign educational backgrounds. Our flexibility in course leveling is why we can have a 10-year-old taking Calculus on a protracted schedule. For some, finding the right placement can be an ongoing challenge. When it’s a young, precocious student, the challenges can be insurmountable. Over the years, we have had several young pupils who did not fit into the classroom settings at other schools. They were advancing too quickly...read more

Topics: individualized learning, teaching, education, alternative education, The Beekman School

A Reader's Guide to Race Relations

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

The riots in Ferguson, Mo., over the summer showed us that race remains a hot topic in the United States. While reading newspapers can aid our understanding of race, fiction and poetry can also shed light on this important issue. The Harlem Renaissance yielded many important works about race, and those remind us that a lot of the issues prevalent decades ago are still with us today. Here are five books I have taught over the years that I find particularly effective in revealing this complex issue to high school students: 1. Passing (1929) by Nella Larsen tells the cautionary tale of Clare Kendry; she is married to a white man who is unaware of her African-American heritage. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African-American community. By the book’s end, both have had to confront lies they have told others and their own deep fears. 2. The Blacker the Berry (1929) by Wallace Thurman was among the first novels to address...read more

Topics: Harlem Renaissance, James Vescovi, Langston Hughes, literature

What it Takes to Learn Your Way: Assessing How Far We’ve Come

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

This post is part of 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. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  This week marks the final episode of “Dream School: NYC.“ Even though The Beekman School was part of the students’ journey from afar, it did feel close to us.  It is true that they were not Beekman students and we were not part of the selection process for either the students or the faculty. We were only invited to offer our expertise, our model, and the credit the students needed as an incentive to give the project a winning change. But we rooted for every single one of these kids and we did our best to translate our expertise into positive impact. The kind of impact we see...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, Maren Holmen

Helpful Hints for Speaking with Teachers

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

I’ve been an educator for 13 years, and have been asked by numerous friends how to deal with a conflict that crops up in their child’s school.  Students come home at the end of the day filled with social and academic stress.  With growing classroom sizes and increasing curriculum demands in many schools, teachers are less likely to be able to stay in constant contact with parents about what happens while their children are at school. How is a mother to know when she should advocate for her child?  What does a father say to get the best results?  How does a parent know what is too much or too little involvement?  I find that, in all of my interactions with parents and teachers, the most successful incorporate the following do’s and don’ts: Do make an appointment to speak with the teacher.  Teachers, like other professionals, are often busy even when they don’t appear to be.  In order to make sure that you and your child’s teacher have the time and space needed to reach a resolution,...read more

Topics: Parents, teacher, Maren Holmen

What It Takes to Learn Your Way: Small Class Size

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

This post is part of 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. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  After watching the first four episodes of Dream School: NYC, it’s easy to see how handling only 15 students—half the size of a regular class size—improves the quality of time teachers spend with students. But what if your child would be one of only 8 kids in a class? For starters, there is no hiding in a corner behind the other students or even from themselves. The intimate setting encourages them to face their shortcomings head on, but it also fosters a can-do attitude that students take with them outside the classroom. The small classroom adds a dynamic that cannot be...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, small classes, personalized learning, Beekman School, Charlie Sitler, Michelle Koza

5 Magazines to Use in History Class

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

As a social studies teacher, I feel a critical need to instill in my students a desire to learn about and read about the world around us—whether current events, long term economic trends, or archeological digs. In my Government and elective classes, students often have to find and bring to class current news stories that catch their eye so we can discuss them.  Most students turn to The New York Times to find articles.  But there are other publications worth investigating to learn about the past and present.  I have selected five publications that I think are first-rate: ·      Archaeology Magazine - This is a great magazine that provides interesting articles on archeological subjects ranging from the history of the Incas in Peru to information on a Roman fort uncovered in Morocco.  ·      Harpers Monthly - This publication features short fiction stories by top writers, as well as in-depth articles on relevant subjects like the Iraq conflict. ·      The Atlantic - This moderate...read more

Topics: magazines, history, Ian Rusten

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