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Faculty Q&A with Math Teacher Charlie Sitler

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Ask Charlie Sitler for his favorite mathematician and he’ll be glad to tell you: Georg Cantor (1845-1918). “I crossed paths with his ideas at Fordham College. Cantor proved that there were actually different types of infinity—a veritable hierarchy of infinities, if you will. It was mind-blowing! Encountering Cantor’s theories made me want to teach math even more.  I wanted everybody to know there was so much more to math than y = mx + b.” When did you know you wanted to teach? Practically in the womb. My mother was a New York City public school teacher. I went to a Catholic grammar school, which had a different vacation schedule.  Sometimes, she’d bring me to her class and I’d watch her in action. I told myself, “What she’s doing—that’s what I want to do.” How did you settle on mathematics? I grew up in The Bronx and attended Regis High School and I always excelled in math. I earned a B.A. at Fordham in mathematics. During summers, I put my math skills to use by writing computer...read more

Topics: mathematics, faculty, James Vescovi, Charlie Sitler

Pi for Everyone!

Authored by Linli Chin, Math teacher

Happy π Day!  If you are a numbers geek, you might already know when this day is celebrated. If you don’t, it’s on March 14, which has been designated as National Pi Day (made official by Congress on March 12, 2009).  Pi Day is celebrated all around the world and has a special place at The Beekman School, as well.  I started celebrating it a few years ago, as it was the perfect opportunity to share my love of math, pi, and pie with the students at Beekman.   We have seen π involved in calculating the area and circumference of circles, but what does it really represent?  When was it first introduced?  What kind of number is it? π, which is approximately 3.14159, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  Any circle of any size will have this ratio of its circumference to its diameter as a constant value.  This value is an irrational number, which means it never ends and never repeats its sequence.  In fact, there are supercomputers that are continuously calculating...read more

Topics: math, pi, teaching, Linli Chin

Mentoring: The Added Benefit of a Small School

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

As a child of educators and as an educator myself, I’ve always had an interest in the topic of education.  Even before I became an administrator, I would read any article or snippet about teaching that caught my eye.  Recently, the subject of teens and mentoring seemed to be popping up everywhere I looked.  From a study done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health  to a talk sponsored by The Parents’ League of New York to an NBC News commentary, the benefits of mentorships between children and adults are becoming widely recognized. For years, parents have looked for a smaller class sizes in their child’s education in order to address their academic needs.  But let’s look at this issue from a different perspective: teachers as mentors.  Most teachers I know have spoken of themselves as mentors to their students, but, for those in larger schools, they are also aware that the number of students they can truly mentor is limited. For students in smaller classes, the possibility for...read more

Topics: mentoring, teacher, small classes, Maren Holmen

Changes to the SAT: What Does It Mean?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

If you’re reading this blog, you have probably already heard about the College Board’s changes to the SAT.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the changes, here’s a summary:  Starting in Spring 2016, the SAT will go back to the 1600-point format.  They’re getting rid of vocabulary words that are largely out of use and hard-to-understand math questions, the essay is becoming optional, and the overall focus of the exam will be on decoding the presented information, not in rote memorization.  In addition, students won’t be penalized for guessing and there will be questions tied in more closely to science and social studies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had stressed-out students (and parents) ask me about “the best way” to prepare for the SAT.  They ask about the difference between the various test prep services and our own SAT tutoring; they ask about our approach and our statistics; and they ask for honest advice about what all this testing means for college admissions....read more

Topics: test prep, SAT prep, SAT, Maren Holmen

Were You Swept Out During Spring Cleaning?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

I love springtime.  Having successfully shoveled my way through yet another winter at Beekman, I look forward to the budding trees outside of my office window and the sunlight that fills our garden. With the appearance of spring, however, I know to expect something more than the return of longer, warmer days.  I’m also going to witness a yearly event that leaves numerous parents and students of schools throughout the region stunned.  After spending most of the academic year looking forward to June and summer vacation, you are informed that your prep school is asking you to withdraw, and they are not inviting you to return in September! Panicked, parents and students contact me desperately trying to salvage their academic year and save their summer vacation plans.  Luckily, Beekman provides the solution. The Beekman School, established in 1925, has been the answer to a countless array of educational needs that arise throughout the school year.  Review our website to discover the...read more

Topics: private school, rolling admissions, personalized learning, transfer, George Higgins

Teaching 3D Production Graphics to High School Students

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology teacher

There is an ancient eastern truth that if you put six blind men around an elephant and have them describe it, you will get six different, partial descriptions.  Take six students and sit them around an elephant and have them draw, paint, illustrate, or photograph it (either traditionally or on a computer) and you will get six different perspectives of that elephant.  But give those six students a 3D program and you will get six models that contain all sides of the elephant.  That elephant model may not be the same from student to student, but all the models will be, by and large, full attempts at recreating the whole animal. If a man who can see walks around the elephant, not only does he get to see the whole elephant, but also how it fits in the world. This experience expands his mind.  So, too, with the student who has modeled that elephant in 3D.  The student objectively studies and understands the elephant as it truly is, in a complete way that he never would have had he just made...read more

Topics: computer, 3D, electives, teaching, Cavin Thuring

A School That Reflects its Community

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

New York City is a multi-cultural metropolis.  Shouldn’t your child’s school be too?  The Beekman School, nestled in a charming Eastside townhouse, is an entire global community in one building. The Beekman School attracts students from many different countries, eager to experience a new culture and, in some cases, improve their English skills.  Because of the excellence of our English language education and our proximity to the United Nations, our school is a clear choice. Imagine an exciting history discussion in a class with different perspectives from around the world.   Picture an English class, filled with vastly different cultural experiences, analyzing the importance and impact of literature.  Everyone shares and everyone is enriched, even the teachers! New York can be an overwhelming, intimidating city, but there is an oasis with a warm and welcoming embrace.  It is a place where students have come to learn since 1925.  The Beekman School, located in the heart of midtown...read more

Topics: private school, New York City private schools, community, diversity, transfer, George Higgins

"You Say You Want a Revolution?" History by the Beatles

Authored by Ian Rusten, History teacher

A generation of Americans remembers where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and the first time they saw John, Paul, George, and Ringo on TV.  Fifty years ago this month the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and, overnight, a social revolution began. A history class might only study the first two events and skip the third—what a loss! Social history is often overlooked, but it is just as important.  History is about cause and effect. If we really want to understand historical events, we have to look beyond the political and economic history of an era and also focus on the social and cultural movements of that era. We must understand the mores, customs, and people of the generation.  The rise of the Beatles provides insight into the rise of the anti-war movement, the flower power movement, and Woodstock.  These events, like most in history, didn’t happen in a vacuum.  The appearance of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan on February 9, 1964...read more

Topics: history, Beatles, social revolution, Ian Rusten

School Problem? Problem Solved: Beekman!

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

I speak with a lot of people: on the phone, in interviews, and around town.  They’ve heard bits and pieces about our unique program and want to get the story “straight from the horse’s mouth.”  Given our rolling admissions policy, our philosophy of “interview today start tomorrow,” and our focus on student-centered learning, I am frequently asked a number of questions about our student body. One that I often hear is, “Don’t some of the kids there have problems?”  My answer is always the same: “Absolutely not!”  There are students here who have a particular need that their previous school was unable to accommodate.  Is that a problem?  It might be for others, but not for Beekman.  We’re the most flexible, most individualized, and most accommodating private high school in NYC. Beekman has been creating personalized academic programs for students with a variety of requests for over 85 years.  Our college prep courses successfully prepare our students in an environment that is...read more

Topics: private school, New York City private schools, personalized learning, transfer, George Higgins

Love and Mathematics

Authored by Charlie Sitler, Math teacher

Ah!  It’s Valentine’s Day, and a young man’s fancy turns to…mathematics? Not really.  But mathematics, or at least the language of mathematics, can be useful in discussing helpful advice to promote love in your life.  In fact, I encourage you to consider matters of affection stated in terms familiar to any calculus or precalculus student. (And you thought you wouldn’t use calculus in “real life”!) First, however, I want to discuss an idea attributed to Michelangelo that I have always cherished: In describing his methods as a sculptor, Michelangelo said his practice was to simply take his block of marble and remove the extraneous material, thus revealing the beautiful work of art that, although initially obscure, was always there. In a similar manner, a true vision of our significant other can be obscured by thoughts and expectations about how he or she should be, or needs to be…especially in our love’s relationship to us.  Not only does such a viewpoint engender resentment when the...read more

Topics: valentines day, mathematics, infinity, Charlie Sitler

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