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Mind the Gap Year

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

If you’ve ever been on the London tube, you’ve seen the signs that say, MIND THE GAP. Given that it’s college application season, my message to parents is,  “Mind the gap year.” I know what you’re thinking: “If my child took a year off before college, she’d never go back to school. She’ll become a GAP salesclerk for life.” My response is, “Not if you handle the process correctly.” First, let’s talk logic. The notion that all 18-year-olds are somehow ready to matriculate is ludicrous. Young children don’t learn to read at the same age; some boys get facial hair at 13, others at 16. Eighteen-year-old students do not suddenly move in lockstep, each fully prepared to choose a major and work towards it. Your Starbucks barista or assistant cheese cutter at Eataly might very well be a college drop-out—possibly demoralized by the fact that she failed because she didn’t want to go in the first place. Moreover, you, the parent—for your hard-earned $50,000—have nothing to show for the year but a...read more

Topics: college, James Vescovi

College Placement - Finding What's Right For You

Authored by Kristin Schmidt, College Guidance Counselor

There are approximately 4,500 colleges in the United States. Whether your child wants to attend a traditional four-year institution, community college, musical conservatory, or an art institute, higher education is a viable option for everyone. As a college placement counselor, if I had to choose the most important thing for students and families to remember about the college process it would be that college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won. For seniors, the college process has been built up since kindergarten. Now, after just a few short months in the fall, it is finally coming to an end and many students are ready to take control of their education and be accountable for their future. While it is an exciting process with so many possibilities, it can also be draining, time-consuming, and sometimes crushing. There is a lingering fear of rejection that hangs over students’ heads throughout the entire process. If they don’t get accepted to a top-name school, they may feel...read more

Topics: college prep, college, Kristin Schmidt

Preparing for College

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

What does college preparation mean? Quite simply, it’s being ready to embrace and succeed with the rigors of college by the time you receive your diploma.  That is a four-year process that requires focus, discipline, and planning.  Many students are unsure of how to prepare for college in high school.    When should you start preparing for college? The process begins in the 9th grade and continues through your senior year of high school.  Always take the highest level of the core academic courses that your school offers and that you feel you have the educational foundation in which to do well.  That means avoiding AP Chemistry if your strengths are in the humanities.  Most people have areas of strength and weakness.  Unfortunately, you’re still going to have to take some upper-level math classes even if you are a stronger student in English.  Make sure your transcript reflects your areas of strength while continuing to get the highest grades that you can in the subjects that aren’t...read more

Topics: college prep, college, George Higgins

"Don't Boo--Vote!"

Authored by Gabriella Skwara, History Teacher

This week marked the final presidential debate prior to Election Day 2016. In just under three weeks, we will head to the polls and select our next president. For history teachers, election years provide a wealth of ready-made lesson topics and fuel for class discussions. However the premise has been tested this year, as the election has become increasingly contentious and the political debates have become personal instead of substantive. Faced with these realities, the election has become a more difficult one to properly address in a classroom setting. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that my role as a history teacher encompasses more than merely teaching about the past. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this election, there is no question that this is a historical election year and one that future students will encounter in their textbooks some day. This fits with one of the ideas that I like to convey to students, that they themselves are historical subjects. With this in mind,...read more

Topics: vote, election, Newsela, president, debate, Gabriella Skwara

Something’s Gotta Give: Flexibility vs. Academics

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Every student is unique. We know this better than anyone and we’ve spent the last nine decades making it possible for this uniqueness to complement a top-quality education. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, with their specific ways of learning, particular interests, and distinct aspirations. This individuality is celebrated by the flexibility and the choices they are able to make for themselves at Beekman. Curtis (learning differences) was a hard-working student who struggled with foreign languages.  In The Tutoring School, Curtis was able to follow the same curriculum taught in our Beekman program but at a slower pace.  By extending his Spanish classes through June, he was able to gain a concrete understanding of the language that would have been very difficult in a faster-paced classroom. Lisa (extracurricular activities) was a dedicated ballet dancer who trained multiple hours every day.  She needed a program that allowed her to take classes during the first half of...read more

Topics: flexible curriculum, flexible schedules, flexible scheduling, Maren Holmen

Calm in the Digital Storm

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Popular wisdom says this generation of students is digitally native, and that they have facility with digital technology that people even of my generation (I’m just on the upper edge of millenial) don’t have. Indeed, in my household we had a family computer all through my years in high school. Cell phones were still relatively novel, and the iPhone was not even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. This difference in perspective led to my over-enthusiasm for introducing digital technology in the classroom. Last year, I ran headlong into digital without really knowing how my students would respond. I was excited by the grand experiment as well as my own newly-developed skills, and assumed that my students would be right there with me. Children need to learn how to do things, and it doesn’t matter whether they are native to the skill or not. Kids are impulsive and easily distracted. Their brains aren’t fully grown yet, including that prefrontal cortex which governs executive functioning. You...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, note-taking, digital, Notability, technology

6 Ways to Make the Most of High School

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship.”  Even though this piece was intended for an audience of college students working as short-term summer interns, as a teacher of high school students, I was struck by how much of this advice should be taken to heart by teenagers.  And so I offer my own “6 Ways to Make the Most of High School:” Be on time.  My school is located in midtown Manhattan, with commuters coming as far away as Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, and even (gasp!) Staten Island.  Getting anywhere in an efficient and timely manner is a daily challenge, and so we encourage everyone to build in at least 15-20 minutes to their commuting schedule to ensure that they will arrive in time for the first class of the day.  Everyone has a day in which nothing seems to go right, but if you are consistently missing your first class because “my train was late” or “traffic was bad,” people stop feeling sorry for you...read more

Topics: high school, Maren Holmen

NYC School Helps Teens With Anxiety And School Refusal Disorder

Authored by The Beekman School

It’s no secret to parents and educators that most students dislike the thought of summer ending and school starting up again. For some children it can manifest through the usual complaining and reluctance to wake up, while others can feel paralyzing fear also known as school refusal disorder - a condition that affects children of all ages, including high school students. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines it as “disorder of a child who refuses to go to school on a regular basis or has problems staying in school.” According to psychologists, the most common reason for this psychiatric problem is an underlying anxiety or depression. School refusal in teenagers is often associated with social phobia, an adolescent’s need to fit in, and the resulting fears of disapproval and judgment. Most often, school refusal behavior also manifests itself through physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea. School refusal interventions are a shared...read more

Topics: school refusal, school anxiety, The Beekman School

Apping Math

Authored by Kate Bendrick, Math Teacher

"Photomath” is an app. It's free. Its name alone conveys its purpose: take a picture of a math problem and the app will instantly provide you a step-by-step solution to it. This past summer, Photomath reached the status of being the top free app available on the iTunes App Store. The developers of the app claim that they designed it as a learning tool, rather than a way for students to cheat on homework. As an educator, I can empathize. As much as students may think math teachers live for making children (and their parents) pull out their hair, what we are really after is understanding: challenge and struggle that resolves into a feeling of accomplishment and contentment. The goal is to look at a situation that used to be incomprehensible, and now is far from it. Staring at a math problem for hours, while a pile of homework assignments from other subjects sits awaiting patiently is not what educators want for their students. This is why I understand the motivation that the developers...read more

Topics: math, Apps, technology, Kate Bendrick

Preparing for High School - Now That You're There

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

You’re in high school—hurray!  It feels like a huge accomplishment to get through your first day (and it is—go you!), but there are some things to keep in mind as you start at a new school. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Figure out how much time it will take you to do your homework before you sign up for Student Council, Chess Club, and the yearbook staff.  It’s great to be involved, particularly in a new school, and it can help you make new friends.  But you don’t want to feel so overwhelmed that you feel like you can’t accomplish everything. Watch.  And listen.  Observe those around you the first couple of weeks at your new school.  Figure out who is serious about homework, who is always getting into trouble, and who is helpful.  Emulate those who have the qualities you would like to have, and make sure that you don’t fall into the bad habits of others around you. Choose your friends wisely.  This is, of course, one of the hardest parts of high school.  For many, the...read more

Topics: prospective student, high school, Maren Holmen