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No Bullying at Beekman

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Sadly, bullying is on the minds of many parents and students, and why not?  Clannish and mean-spirited behavior isn’t just a product of face-to-face interaction, but also raises its ugly head in cyberspace. The anonymity of the Internet has allowed cowards to make nasty comments about students they don’t like. Recently, newspapers have reported on a 13-year-old girl who jumped to her death in Florida after being hazed and tormented by fellow students, ages 14 and 12. Like most high schools, Beekman takes bullying seriously. However, Beekman’s unique character and mission address the bullying problem like few schools can. Because the school operates on a rolling admissions basis, many Beekman students know what it’s like to be “the new kid in class.” That experience creates a kind of empathy in our student body.  If you, who arrived in November, were warmly welcomed, wouldn’t you do the same for a student who enrolls three months after you? In addition, Beekman’s small class size of no...read more

Topics: bullying, private school, community, New York City private schools, transfer, James Vescovi

Does Literature Matter?

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

I had no expectation of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird this year. After all, The Beekman School is a high school, and most American students encounter Harper Lee's seminal work in middle school. But, to my astonishment, many of my students (and not just the international ones!) had not read the book. I myself had not cracked it open since the 8th grade. Teaching this book not only reacquainted me with Lee’s lifelike characters, but it also reminded me of why I chose to teach literature in the first place. Everything about To Kill a Mockingbird is a testament to why we study literature. Atticus, an upright lawyer in the Deep South town of Maycomb, is the living example of the central lesson of the book: always try to see the situation from the other person's point of view. Reading literature is an exercise in empathy, the kind we should be expressing in everyday life—the kind Atticus exercises towards Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Even though the town is...read more

Topics: English, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, literature, empathy, justice, Michelle Koza

Where a Mid-Year Shift is a Fresh Start

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Ask any New Yorker with children what’s the hardest part of living in the city. Having enough living space is high on the list; perhaps even higher is choosing the right high school. New Yorkers cherish the city for its variety and diversity. There are more school choices than flavors in a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop. Yet, despite the amount of research parents do and how many school visits they make, no one is guaranteed to make the right choice. The question arises: Should I let my child ride out school in a less-than-ideal setting, or is there a way to still make her year productive and enjoyable? Beekman differs from its peer schools in that, since its founding in 1925, it has operated on a rolling admissions calendar.  Students from around the city and, indeed, from around the world, enroll at Beekman throughout the year. Some are transferring from unsuitable schools, while others come because their families have moved to the New York area in the middle of an academic year....read more

Topics: New York City private schools, transfer, James Vescovi

A Fixed Point

Authored by Charlie Sitler, Math Teacher

Science is elegant.  Mathematics is beautiful. That was the insight that came to me as I unexpectedly found myself leafing through a whole slew of Scientific American magazines from years gone by.  And with that insight came a whole new appreciation of the subject of mathematics that I had devoted my life to teaching. I was struck by how quickly some of the science articles had become outdated, while the math articles retained a timelessness that reflected the one-pointedness of mathematics itself--the fact that the truths of mathematics belong to eternity. The magazines had been offered to my friend Richard, who was the science chair at the school where I previously taught.  We were good friends, and I was sitting in his office one day shooting the breeze when the school librarian came in bearing a carton full of really old Scientific Americans. The offer of the magazines went to Richard (in the name of science), but he declined, which I initially found surprising, especially given...read more

Topics: math, elegant, beautiful, Charlie Sitler

Faculty Q & A with Science Teacher Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

In love with science since childhood, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez had plans to become a pediatrician. In college, however, she realized she was too tender-hearted to work with sick children. Instead, she decided to bring her love of science to young minds. After earning a B.A. in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Speech Communications at Texas A&M University, she taught in her native Texas before relocating to New York with her husband.   Some students consider science class boring. How do you make it interesting? Fight the stereotype! I try to teach the major concepts with real world applications. When my students leave class at the end of the year, it is my hope that they will never look at the world the same way. While studying electron emission spectra, we discuss the science behind fireworks. They know that the element strontium makes a beautiful red color and that hot pink is thanks to a little lithium. Tada! Spectroscopy! What other real-life applications do you...read more

Topics: science, faculty, q&a, field trip, lab, Galapagos, spectroscopy, dissection, ecology, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, James Vescovi

Can You Roll Your Tongue Like This?

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

Can you roll your tongue like this?  (Click on the picture to see the full image.) If you can, chances are one or more of your family members can too. This trait along with other characteristics like blue eyes, curly hair and lactose intolerance, is inherited or built into your genes and passed on from one generation to the next. While some inherited genes code for severe and sometimes lethal genetic disorders, others can give insight into the workings of the human body in ways that would amaze you. This brings me to asparagus. While this may seem like quite a jump, I assure you it’s not. When you eat asparagus, your body metabolizes this vegetable producing a sulfur compound that causes an odor in your urine. While this happens in all humans, only those with extra adenine in the rs4481887 region of their genome are born with receptors that are able to detect it. Do you have the gene? You can find out by completing a simple experiment using The Scientific Method. Problem/Question-Do...read more

Topics: science, experiment, lab, asparagus, 23andMe, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

How to Choose the Right Tutor

Authored by Aviva Patz, Contributing Writer

One-on-one attention from the right tutor can make all the difference in your child’s academic success. “If kids are out sick when the class is learning five-paragraph essay writing or they just never grasped fractions, they will stumble and get farther behind every time those things come up,” explains Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison at The Beekman School in Manhattan, which specializes in accredited tutoring for high school students. “The right tutor can help get those skills bumped up so your child can continue learning with everyone else at grade level.” Whether your child needs to brush up on French conjugation, crack the code of advanced chemistry or just improve focus and time management, connecting with the right expert is key. Finding a TutorBegin by asking your child’s teacher or school administrators for a list of recommended tutors. Friends and family may also be able to offer personal referrals. Next, consider reaching out to official tutoring services, such as The Tutoring...read more

Topics: tutoring, tutors, customized learning, Maren Holmen

The Beekman School Scholarship

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

We’re pleased to offer The Beekman School's Merit Scholarship, a program offering each recipient 50 percent tuition remission for each year that he or she remains a student in good standing with a minimum 3.0 GPA. For students enrolled at Beekman for four years, this award will be worth more than $80,000 in tuition value.  The scholarship is designed to provide an opportunity for students to attend The Beekman School who may not have been able to do so otherwise. All new, incoming 9th and 10th grade students who earn a minimum 3.0 GPA during the current school year are eligible to apply. Potential candidates must be full-time for the full academic year and must be U.S. citizens. To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must complete the online admission application and note “The Beekman School Scholarship” in the comments section. The following application documents must also be submitted via email to Headmaster George Higgins at georgeh@beekmanschool.org: One 500 word essay...read more

Topics: New York City private schools, high school, merit award, private school tuition, financial aid

What Does Personalized Learning Mean at Beekman?

Authored by Kara Krauze, Contributing Writer

From an infant’s first days, parents make choices for their child representing the family’s values and interests – taking into consideration the child’s own personality.  And yet when children enter school, we relinquish much of this participation.  The child becomes a student.  But now more parents are asserting that education needn’t happen at the expense of individuality. As Lisa Miller reports in New York Magazine, “many parents want to give their kids something more creative, flexible, and engaging than a school day they see as factory-made.” Whether a child is exceptionally bright, struggles with course material that feels impenetrable, diagnosed with dyslexia or requires an unusual schedule, the family can benefit from a personalized approach.  Large schools, often with more crowded classrooms, are seldom able to offer the customization and attention many students need – especially when a student has additional circumstances to address in terms of schedule, course content or...read more

Topics: personalized learning, tutoring, customized learning, homeschooling, flexible curriculum, transfer, George Higgins, Maren Holmen

Faculty Perspectives: A Portrait of Beekman

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Having sent three children through New York City independent schools, I believed I was well acquainted with what they had to offer – that is, until I arrived at The Beekman School as an English teacher, after 25 years as an editor.  The first thing that struck me about Beekman was how, in some ways, it operates like a small college. The classes, which include a maximum of 10 students, feel like seminars.  No student – no matter where he or she sits, or how “small” that student attempts to make him or herself – escapes a teacher’s eye.  This allows faculty to keep tabs on all students, to make sure that they are keeping up with homework and papers and understanding the material. The class size also gives teachers the chance to get to know a class soon after a semester begins. Because of the flexibility built into the Beekman English curriculum, teachers can choose the novels, poems and plays that they think will reach and resonate with a given class – from classics by Stephen Crane, T....read more

Topics: Beekman School, personalized learning, high school, New York City private schools, James Vescovi

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