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Women's History is American History

Authored by Gabriella Skwara, History Teacher

This semester, a group of Beekman students have been exploring U.S. history and the history of the presidency from a new angle. In First Ladies, we are examining the evolution of the often full-time (and always unpaid) position that accompanies that of the President. At its most basic, the term merely designates the wife of a U.S. President, but it has also always signified a role as official hostess for White House events both large and small, be they social or political in nature. The best First Ladies have capitalized on their ability to wield soft power for their husbands, thus helping to further diplomacy and advance the President's domestic and international agendas (while carefully keeping this power hidden, and ensuring that he got the credit). They have campaigned and negotiated and been the female face of the country, whether or not they actually wanted this role. From the first, these women have dealt with public scrutiny of their looks, dress, education, spending habits,...read more

Topics: Gabriella Skwara, First Ladies, Women's History

How Do You Prepare For the Transition to a New High School?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

By now, the letters of acceptance have been delivered and you’re choosing the high school you want your child to attend in September.  Once the contract has been signed and the deposit sent, it’s time to prepare your student for the transition to high school. Over the next several months, several things can be done to help make this move go smoothly.  A little planning now will pay off in the fall. Start by taking a look at the academic requirements at your new school.  Find out the courses that will be taken next year.  If possible, ask for the syllabi so you can review the expectations of each teacher.  Does you child possess the skill level required to enter these classes?  If not, many parents enroll children in summer courses that will enrich or review concepts to strengthen a student’s academic foundation before beginning school in the fall.  Having a strong understanding of the fundamentals of a subject will provide a safer starting point for new courses. Find some good books...read more

Topics: high school, George Higgins

Spring Ahead to Summer School

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Spring break is just around the corner, so why are we already talking about summer school curriculum??  When many people think of summer school, they envision a room filled with students who are goof-offs, woefully clueless, or angst-ridden.  I’ve been a teacher or administrator of a summer school for high school students for almost 15 years, and, in my experience, the stereotypes from comedy movies are outnumbered by the students who actually populate those classrooms. The student with a thirst for learning.  Often starting as early as January (although I fielded an inquiry this year in September), proactive parents begin the process of investigating local summer programs that can advance their child’s education or just provide an outlet for their child’s passions or creativity.  It might be as simple as contacting a tutor to work independently with their child or it could be taking a math or science class that could allow a student to advance to the next level. The student who wants...read more

Topics: Summer School, Summer, Maren Holmen

Going Analog in a Digital World

Authored by Linli Chin, Physics Teacher

Have you noticed how some filters on your Instagram snaps make your photos look “old-school” or “lo-fi” with a vintage feel? Using these filters, our photos go through a digital process of wear and tear in order to give it more uniqueness, depth and personality. In this era of bits, bytes, ones and zeros, there has been a renewed interest in going low-tech that is being seen in the fashion, publishing, music, art and technology world.    Sales of vinyl records hit a 28 year high and mainstream stores such as Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods carry albums released by today’s top grossing artists such as Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. Nokia recently re-released their iconic 3310 model that has been reimagined with smart features but brings back the simplicity of a flip phone.    Following this trend, I took the opportunity to reintroduce my students to the golden age of photography with a project which had them constructing pinhole cameras from a kit made out of cardboard. This...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, Analog, digital, Pinhole camera

What is Personalized Learning and Why Can’t All Schools Offer It?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

More schools are using the term personalized learning on their promotional materials so, naturally, this trending buzzword in education has piqued parents’ interest.  What is personalized learning?  And, if it’s such a good thing, why can’t all schools offer it? Personalized learning schools are places where there are a variety of approaches to learning subject matter.  Academic support is available that can address the specific needs of a diverse student body, and individual students can receive the educational experience that best suits his/her distinct requirements. By definition, that would explain why every school can’t offer a truly personalized education.  Most programs have a structure that doesn’t support the many aspects of a program geared to diverse teaching styles for a wide variety of learners.  Often, larger schools with larger classrooms are less flexible.  There are schools that, by design, have created programs to include the many approaches to learning that can be...read more

Topics: personalized education, personalized learning, George Higgins

Discovering History through Biography

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

As Marian Wright Edeleman said, “If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.” History has been shaped and molded by many figures from the past and present. Some of these people are controversial and their impact has not always been seen as positive, however, their actions have left a deep mark on history. To learn more about these figures, you can read the autobiographies and biographies suggested below. Abigail Adams was advisor to and wife of John Adams, the second President of the United States.             The Letters of Abigail and John Adams by Abigail and John Adams Muhammad Ali was an American political activist and professional boxer.             The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali and Richard Durham Winston Churchill was Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II and had a great influence on the outcome of the War.             Churchill: We Shall Never Surrender | The Life and...read more

Topics: biography, Ian Rusten, history, U.S. History

How Do Educators Create Individualized Learning Plans?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

The term Individual Learning Plan might be confused with an Individual Educational Plan, otherwise known as an IEP.  This is a document created through the public school system for a student with a diagnosed learning disability.  It describes how a student learns best and what accommodations should be made in order for that student to achieve specific objectives and academic goals.  A neuropsychological evaluation, often referred to as a neuropsych, is more common in the private school community, and tend to be a more detailed outline of a student’s learning profile and offers strategies to address specific points. Regardless of who does the testing, both documents help lay the foundation for a school to develop a plan that best suits the learning style of your child.  A series of test results will be included in your report.  While you may want to review this data, the most important information will be toward the end of the report.  Look to see what the conclusions and...read more

Topics: individualized learning, George Higgins

Extra College

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

The following is an excerpt from English teacher James Vescovi's book "Eat Now; Talk Later": My father was the first person in the family to go to college; I was the first to go to graduate school. While my grandparents were proud of my father’s achievement, they were totally baffled by mine. Tony and Desolina Vescovi, Italians who’d immigrated to New York in 1930, had had to quit school after fourth grade to work on their farms. They’d always thought that college was as high as a human could go.             Desolina, said, “You mean you went to college for four years and now you can go higher?”              “That’s right,” I replied.                                                                     “What more can you learn after four years?” she asked, eyeing me skeptically.              What was I going to tell her? That I was going to deconstruct Shakespeare’s plays?             “Desolina, what’s the matter with you?!” my grandfather shouted from the couch, where he’d just awoken...read more

Topics: James Vescovi, Eat Now Talk Later

Why You Might Need To Restart the High School Admissions Process Now

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

It’s that time of year when public and private high schools will soon be informing applicants of their enrollment decisions.  Among all the top schools, seats are limited and stiff competition is an unpleasant reality. What happens when that letter arrives and it isn’t giving you the news you wanted to read?  It means it’s time to sit down and do some homework.  There are a lot of schools that will continue to have openings and you need to spend time researching the best ones for your specific needs. Private high school admissions can be a year-round endeavor for a number of schools.  Just as New York City has a constant influx of people, those people also have children that need to be placed in school and finding a seat may not be as difficult as you think.  Yes, NYC high school admissions to the best schools in the public school system probably won’t be an option, but with some Internet investigating on your home computer, you should be able to identify a suitable private school...read more

Topics: high school, admissions, private school, George Higgins

Notable Student Success Stories: Kate Bendrick

Authored by Kate Bendrick, Math Teacher

American students are plagued with the belief that math is a talent. In one study comparing American students with Japanese students, American kids gave up on a problem after 30 seconds. The Japanese students, by contrast, struggled for an hour to solve a problem. That’s 120 times as long! “Sit on a stone for three years to accomplish anything.” This Japanese proverb might have something to do with this enormous difference. The proverb means that with patience and perseverance, anything can be accomplished. The outsider’s pessimistic interpretation might be twofold: sitting doesn’t accomplish anything. Sitting doing nothing is boring. And indeed, perseverance happens when the glamor of novelty has worn off. There is no glamor in my students’ successes. There is no lightbulb moment in which suddenly ignorance is replaced by vast understanding. It’s a process of slow realization, that patience and perseverance does in fact work. My student came to me at the beginning of the year in...read more

Topics: Kate Bendrick, homework, math, persistence

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