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The Speed of Life: How and When Should You Accelerate Graduation?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

The four-year high school model works for most students; it provides enough time to adequately learn all of the information that we expect students to learn before they go on to other institutions or start careers as well as enough opportunity to mature and learn those “soft skills.”  However, there is a segment of the student population who would strongly benefit from an accelerated high school program, enabling them to graduate in less than four years.  Who are these students and how can schools support them? Often, the mind immediately goes to gifted students.  How can parents find programs for gifted students?  The not-so-obvious answer is that it isn't necessarily dependent on choosing one particular school or program.  While a program that meets your gifted child’s needs without going outside is certainly preferable, it’s possible to create your own gifted program.  For instance, would your child like to jump ahead in math by taking two courses at the same time but the class...read more

Topics: gifted & talented, flexible scheduling, Maren Holmen

A Beginner’s Guide to Art Class

Authored by Deborah Doering, Art Teacher

I am an artist-educator actively involved in making socially-engaged art using a variety of technologies and techniques. When I came to The Beekman School to teach drawing and photography three years ago, I was not quite sure how to approach teaching drawing and photography to students who might not be very interested in “art” of any kind. Serendipitously, I had one very talented and passionate art student in my first class – but his passion was Manga and Anime, and these were art forms that were largely unfamiliar to me. So my task as artist-teacher became to create a framework that would include examining and exploring many types of visual imagery – from Anime to Zephyr Art. My framework for the visual arts at The Beekman School includes basic Elements (line, shape, color, texture, tone/value), Principles (Focal Point, Balance, Leading Lines, Pattern, Perspective, Proportion, Scale), and Critiques.  We use three different critique methods in my art and technology classes –...read more

Topics: art, teaching, Deborah Doering

The Right High School: Myth versus Reality

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Numerous articles (including our own on this blog) have been written about how to choose the right high school.  Clearly, this is neither easy nor easily quantifiable.  There are many references to making lists, doing your research, and asking questions of everyone you know.  These are all part of choosing the right high school—but it isn’t the core, in my opinion.   Myth:  There’s a right school for every person. Reality:  The right school depends as much (if not more) on what a student puts into the equation. Much like the supposed “dream school” that students look for in their college-admissions hunt, there is no one “right” school for a student.  There are plenty of schools that are not a good fit for a variety of reasons (the pace is too fast, there isn’t enough support and structure, there is a religious component that is at odds with the student,) but no school is perfect for a student in every sense.  If the school is willing or able to work with you to accommodate those...read more

Topics: high school, admissions, choosing the right school, Maren Holmen

Notable Student Success Stories: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

I grew up believing mediocrity was unacceptable.  In the Macias household, the only acceptable report card grade to bring home was an A.  B’s were considered failing grades and only God knew what would happen to you if you ever brought home a C.  Neither I nor my siblings cared to test out that scenario.  We worked hard to live up to and exceed the expectations our parents placed on our shoulders.  Life has taught me that not everyone had that same experience.  In fact, I think my tough-love upbringing is becoming quite the rarity in today’s world and average is unfortunately becoming the accepted norm in our touchy-feely society.  How different would life be without the overachievers of the world?  What if Edison had decided that candlelight was good enough or the Wright brothers felt that train service could get you anywhere you needed to go in a decent amount of time?  Would using a flip phone or a rotary land line be acceptable to anyone in 2016?  What if Yo-Yo Ma was thrilled...read more

Topics: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

Why Enroll In a College Prep School? What’s Different About It?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

It seems that the college admissions process continues to feel more competitive and stress-inducing with each passing year, whether we like it or not.  To prepare for that challenge, it is necessary to find good college prep programs that will prepare you for those expectations. If you’re close to finishing the 8th grade and beginning to look for the best college prep high schools, you probably already know why this type of program is so important.  If your goal is to attend college, those four years of high school must teach you the skills required for a successful transition into higher education.  It’s more that just life skills, as vital as they are in this process.  There are specific academic preparations that will be part of your four-year program. College prep high schools know the skill set that universities assume you possess when you join their student body, and high school teachers are including those in the lessons they develop during your time in their courses.  This is...read more

Topics: college prep, high school, George Higgins

Notable Student Success Stories: Linli Chin

Authored by Linli Chin, Math and Science Teacher

After teaching for over 16 years at Beekman, it's nice to take a moment to reflect on all the amazing years and think of the highs as well as the lows. Earlier this quarter, the teachers got an opportunity to do a vlog entry on student success stories. One that stood out in my mind was of a former student, Emma, who was in my Algebra 2 class about 11 years ago. When she first came to Beekman, Emma seemed introverted, quiet and shy, but being in a school with under 100 students, and in a class with only three other students, does have its advantages. We are able to work together on the material at the student's pace, answer any questions they might have along the way, and really get to know and connect with them on a personal level. Having this opportunity made it easy for Emma to feel safe and she began to open up to the students in the class and the teachers at the school. She started to be more engaged with the other students in the class and showed signs of actually enjoying...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, student success, alumni

Early Decision: What Happens if You Back Out?

Authored by Kristin Schmidt, College Guidance Counselor

Early Decision (ED) is a very appealing application option. Students who apply early decision know their admission decision before the New Year and, if accepted, they are set free from the grueling college application process. For many students, knowing their college plans as soon as possible is a huge relief. Applying early decision is very tempting; however, students must be cognizant of that to which they are agreeing. The early decision application is a binding contract where, by signing the agreement, a student is committing to enroll at a first-choice institution if accepted and then withdraw all applications to other schools. Not only does the student sign the agreement, her parents and school counselor do as well. This is not a decision to be made lightly. A student should only apply ED if she is 100% certain that this school is her dream school and the best possible match for her. But what if a student changes his mind? What if he gets accepted to another school that he...read more

Topics: college, early decision, Kristin Schmidt

Notable Student Success Stories: Ian Rusten

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

I taught at a very large public school for a number of years.  I had about 34 students in each class, which makes it very challenging to provide each student with the individual attention and support they deserve. Then I became a teacher at The Beekman School. What a change it has been! I teach in a small townhouse setting with small class sizes that allow me to tailor the lessons to my student’s interests. The largest classes at Beekman have 9 or 10 students. As a result, I can provide each of my students with individualized attention. During my first year at the school, I had a student who was very shy.  She did not want to say a word.   At our school you notice this kind of thing.  I knew that English was not her first language, and wondered if this contributed to her shyness in class.   However, once she started turning in her homework, I realized that she was a wonderful writer in English! I had the opportunity to stop her after class on day and complimented her on her writing...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, student success, alumni

Personalized Learning: What We Can Learn from the One-Room Schoolhouse

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Imagine this: a one-room schoolhouse, filled with students of all ages.  I’m sure you probably have a picture in your mind that is similar to a scene out of “Little House on the Prairie”—and a sense that this is an antiquated and out-dated mode of education.  The concept of one teacher working with a variety of students who are at different levels doesn’t tie in with our image of a modern/technological society. However, personalized learning does just that.  As any teacher can tell you, a classroom of 15 different students is a classroom with 15 different levels and specific learning needs.  Technology is helping teachers (and students) meet the individual needs of a particular course while keeping the benefits of a group setting.  Flipped classrooms, online problem sets, and search engines help solve some of the problems hindering true personalized education in traditional schools.  But does this mean that the computer does the teaching?  Absolutely not!  This access to technology...read more

Topics: personalized education, personalized learning, Maren Holmen

More than Greeks: Foundations of Western Culture

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

                            The Tetractys There was a man here, Pythagoras, ...living in voluntary exile. Though the gods were far away, he visited their region of the sky, in his mind, and what nature denied to human vision he enjoyed with his inner eye. -Ovid, Metamorphoses, Bk XV When I went to high school, it was taught that Western culture was the inheritor of the achievement in thoughts and beliefs of the ancient Greek philosophers. Figures like Pythagoras gave us great theorems of geometry, such as:  a^2 + b^2 = c^2 and taught that the whole of reality was generated and governed by numbers. It was (and still is) taught that Pythagoras, along with Plato, Socrates, and the rest were the foundation of rational thought and philosophy.  But, while that is all well and good, so much was and is left out.  What is selectively taught leaves an incomplete view of these men and their contributions to western culture. And what wasn’t and isn’t taught is that they were all mystics.  They...read more

Topics: Ovid, Greek, Pythagoras, philosophy, Cavin Thuring