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History Across Content Areas

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

History shouldn’t be static. It’s not just a list of dates and events. History is truly about an in-depth look at a period-- its authors, artists, scientists, inventors, historians and participants. A study of history should include a close look at books by authors who study the era, who lived in the era, who wrote about the era. Let’s take the 1920s, a time of great change in the United States. The 1920s saw the rise of post-War isolationism, the literature from the lost generation, the music, literature and art of the Harlem Renaissance, the clash between conformity and rebellion, the growth of cubism, the rise of art-deco, the celebration of jazz, the birth of surrealism, remarkable inventions and innovations, and then the devastation of the Great Depression. Summer is a perfect time to delve into an era, or a moment in history and read the novels, poem, biographies and histories of the era.  If I were going to compile a selection of books about the 1920s, my list would like...read more

Topics: history, literature, reading, summer reading, cross curricular, Ian Rusten

Failure: An Invaluable Component of a True Education

Authored by Raven Koch, Business Manager

It is the failures in our lives, rather than the successes, that have guided our way toward expertise.  Failure is a profound teacher.  The experience of failure can show us how to improve.  Success only demonstrates what we’ve already learned.  In fact, too much success, coming too easily, can lead to boredom, loss of interest, and over-confidence.  When failure is repeatedly experienced, but success still seems possible, people are driven to improve in order to achieve the reward of success.  It is the failures themselves that teach us the way to that success. We are fortunate that failure presents such opportunities for growth and mastery, because most people experience many more failures than successes. In fact, the more failures you experience, the more likely it is that your eventual success will be bigger and sweeter than someone who has failed less often at the same task.  Take any profession as an example.  Let’s look at acting.  Let’s define success in this profession as the...read more

Topics: success, failure, teaching, learning, Raven Koch

Novel Science

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

Are you tired of a summer reading list filled with Chaucer’s medieval English and Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter?  While these books are very important to your educational development, they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and they might leave you yearning for something a little more interesting or relatable.  How about delving into the world of YA (Young Adult) fiction where tales of the future, romance, mythical beings and science fiction abound. Why am I, a woman flirting with 40, touting the benefits of YA fiction?  I don’t have a weird fascination with everything vampire, nor do I want to relive those teenage hormone infused puppy love days.  I am a science teacher who has found that several of today’s YA authors have, I hope, knowingly realized the impact they can have on our future generations and are making an effort to get the science right. One of my biggest pet peeves is when movies or TV shows aren’t scientifically accurate.  “Hearing” a spaceship’s engine roar, Lois Lane...read more

Topics: scientific accuracy in YA Fiction, Ally Condie, Veronica Roth, Divergent Trilogy, Matched Trilogy, science, summer reading, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

Faculty Q&A with History Teacher Ian Rusten

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

Growing up in the artsy neighborhood of Soho, it is no surprise that Ian Rusten set his sights on a career in the arts. While he enjoyed subjects such as history and English, “I liked drawing even more,” he says. However, after teaching English in Korea after college, he caught the teaching bug and went on to earn an M.A. in Education and an M.A. in History, both at Hunter College. “It’s funny; teaching as a career just never really occurred to me,” he says. His students are glad that it finally did.   So, you wanted to be a visual artist? Yeah. I loved to draw and was pretty good at it. Plus, growing up in Soho, being around all those galleries was an inspiration. Did you study art in college? I attended LaGuardia High School, which is for kids interested in becoming artists, actors, writers and singers. I’d planned to attend an art college, but when it came time to apply, I asked myself, “What exactly am I going to do with a fine arts degree when I graduate in four years?” So I...read more

Topics: history, Government, art, teaching, teacher, James Vescovi, Ian Rusten

The Art of Culinary Science

Authored by Linli Chin, Science Teacher

One of my favorite places to be is the kitchen, and one of my favorite things to do is cook. I love the sounds and smells of delicious food permeating throughout the home. You might not realize it, but cooking and baking heavily involve mathematics and science. When teaching the laws of thermodynamics and the concepts of heat, temperature, and thermal energy in my science classes, practical examples can be drawn from our everyday life in the kitchen. Adding salt to a pot of boiling pasta not only adds flavor, but also allows it to cook at a higher temperature so that it can achieve the perfect al dente texture faster. With the addition of salt, we increase the boiling temperature of the water mixture, which also allows it to stay in its liquid state longer and avoid evaporating. The types of pots and pans we use in cooking also affect the outcome of the meal. Cooking pots with a thick base allow for heat to transfer evenly throughout the base.  This eliminates “hot spots” which can...read more

Topics: cooking, science, Linli Chin

The End of the GED

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

It happened without a lot of fanfare.  As of January 1, 2014, New York State stopped administering the GED  (General Education Development test).  This well-known acronym was synonymous with High School Equivalency (HSE) for decades, so why the sudden change?  And what does this mean for all of the people who have spent significant time (and money) preparing for it? As the director of The Tutoring School, I am asked to coordinate tutors for a number of standardized tests, including those for high school equivalency.  So when I found out this past December that New York would no longer administer the GED but would replace it with a new test called the TASC, I was left scratching my head.  What’s the TASC?  And, more importantly, what will be on it? Those who had previously prepared for the GED were briefly stumped by this new test, as there were few resources that discussed the content of the TASC.  The first test prep book was published in February 2014, more than a month after the...read more

Topics: GED, TASC, high school, Maren Holmen

"I Hate Homework!" : A Teacher Remembers

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

When I was in the sixth grade, I wrote a long tirade to my grandmother complaining about my teacher’s terrible penchant for assigning too much homework. Now a teacher myself, I assign homework every day of the week, including weekends. And yet, my twelve-year-old self was on to something. I don’t think my students enjoy homework any more than I did. And seriously, who really wants to do work? Don’t get me wrong--I love my job. I get to talk, play, and learn with kids all day long. It’s a privilege, really. But it doesn’t quite feel that way when I realize my lesson bombed and my students really didn’t learn what I had hoped. Writing formal lesson plans, curriculum maps, scope and sequences, and any of the other administrivia that comes with the territory is no ticker-tape parade, either. I don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn any more than my students want to do their homework, but as an adult I think I can begin to realize that the product of work is internal. Perhaps Joseph...read more

Topics: homework, teaching, work, Michelle Koza

Faculty Q&A with History Teacher Anastasia Georgoulis

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Even as a child, Anastasia Georgoulis had teaching in her bones. In grammar school, she felt a sense of responsibility towards her classmates, always ready to lend a helping hand with homework or a social problem. “I was the kid to whom classmates went for help,” recalls Anastasia, who grew up in Brooklyn and Manhattan. That attentive, protective spirit intensified during her studies at New York University, where she graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in history and later earned a M.A. at Teacher’s College.   Why did you decide to teach history? My father majored in the subject, and if you wanted to converse at our dinner table, you had to know history and current events. I also relish the subject because in order to understand what position the world is in today, you must have a basis in history. History is not everyone’s cup of tea. What’s your approach to making it accessible to high school students? One of my NYU professors gave me a piece of wisdom that’s always stayed with me. He...read more

Topics: teaching, history, James Vescovi, Anastasia Georgoulis

Teaching Turgenev's Novella "First Love"

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Like many of us, high school students are often attracted to stories with characters going through similar struggles and life changes. I have found some success teaching Alan Sillitoe's novella The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1959), whose 17-year-old protagonist from a working class home, Colin Smith, has been caught burgling and is sent to a reform school. Discovering Smith’s gift for running, school officials enter him in a cross-country competition. His victory would bring the institution much prestige. Smith must decide whether to play by society's rules (and win the race) or rebel against those rules because he rejects society (and throw the race). Another engaging story with a teenage protagonist is Ivan Turgenev's First Love. Though published more than 150 years ago, the novella poignantly describes the intense joy and searing pain experienced by anyone falling in love for the first time. If that isn’t difficult enough, the book’s protagonist, Vladimir, is falling...read more

Topics: literature, English, teaching, love, James Vescovi

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


We are welcoming students to class this spring either via a hybrid in-person/online learning model in NYC (following our Spring Break), or via fully remote, synchronous online classes.  Learn more about our response to COVID-19 >