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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 said,  “You’re not teaching history; you’re teaching students.”

Translation?

In college, and especially graduate school, the instructor drops his subject before her students and says, “Feast and learn.” High school students are at a unique stage in life. They often require more courting when it comes to learning. So, I teach to them first, as individuals. When I do that, the learning of history takes its proper course.  My style is to combine a strong curriculum with what students themselves bring from their own experiences.

Where did you begin your career?

I was a product of New York City public schools and my goal was to teach there. After earning my M.A., I taught high school history in Harlem and at my alma mater, the Lab School on West 17th Street.  However, a hiring freeze made it impossible to find a full-time, tenure track-position anywhere in public system and so I began investigating independent schools.

And that’s how you landed at Beekman?

Yes, in summer 2010.

You also consider part of your job is to be a role model. Can you elaborate?

I suppose this comes from both my being the youngest member of the faculty and my penchant from youth to guide others. I try to model behaviors that my students should aspire to, like being organized, setting priorities, and being consistent. Mastering these skills is as important as learning about the Revolutionary War or the Civil Rights movement.

You also head the student council.

So many students come to us without a sense of purpose or community. It’s essential that we tap into their inherent potential and get them on the road to a subject they can passionately pursue in college and beyond. Student council provides a functioning community where students can learn things like setting priorities and leadership skills. I tell students, “You want a prom? You want a yearbook? Neither is going to happen unless you do the planning, organizing, and execution.”

Given your many roles, do you ever have aspirations to become, say, Chancellor of New York City Public Schools?

Let’s just say that I love to shake up the curriculum. But for now, my work isn’t finished here at Beekman.

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 >