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Learn Your Way: What it Takes to Build a Dream School

Authored By: 
The Beekman School

This post introduces a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversation using the hashtag #LearnYourWay

When the producers of “Dream School: NYC” called us about partnering with them this season, we were initially surprised. “Working with students who have dropped out of school is not our focus,” we thought. “Why us?” They noted that they had been referred to us because of our ability to create a unique program that could fit the needs of this unusual group of kids.

It made perfect sense. This was a great opportunity for Beekman to share the expertise we built in personalized education. After all, we pioneered this movement before there even was such a thing. Most schools look for students who fit their program. However, we make sure the program is designed to fit the student.

Here’s what it takes to create a dream school:

  1. Keep classrooms small and allow one-on-one time with each student.
  2. Personal growth requires curiosity and a variety of experiences. Flexible school schedules allow students to learn while also pursuing interests outside of classroom.
  3. Instill a sense of community in your students.
  4. Discover each student’s strengths and growth opportunity areas.
  5. Individuals don’t develop on schedule, but rather in harmony with their internal compass. That is why course levels should accommodate students’ natural development instead of a grade level. If a 9th grader is ready for senior level course work, why hold them back?

The values that we embody at Beekman helped us not only provide support to SundanceTV’s Dream School, but they also mean that we are successful in those situations where more rigid scenarios fail. We educate the children of diplomats and multinational executives, as well as boarding, private and public school students who feel that their current school isn’t a “good fit.” We have dancers, musicians, and athletes who take advantage of our flexible scheduling to thrive in exactly the way they feel best fulfills their varied interests. Here at Beekman, we acknowledge that every child has potential. In fact, that’s what drives our vision!

The students that Dream School:NYC is hosting weren’t thriving in a traditional public high school. The series is a testament of the importance of tailoring the education experience for students and proof that you can Learn Your Way!