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Ethical Thinking

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

I have always wanted to teach ethics and philosophy in a high school English class, and this year I started my AP Literature class with Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. I like to call this an “anchor-text,” as it provides a framework for understanding the literature we will be investigating throughout the course. But it is really much more powerful than this. We can use ethics to see the choices of literary characters in a more objective way, and not in a morass of relativism and emotional confusion. But also, as literature imitates life, so can our analysis support a more robust understanding of ourselves and our own choices. Students need a framework to think about their values and how these connect to their behavior; ethics gives them that vocabulary. Aristotle in particular shows them that action is important above all else. I teach ethics in my high school English class because it helps my students understand how a character’s actions shape who that character becomes. By proxy,...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, AP Literature, ethics, empathy

Holy Mole-y, That Was Fun!

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

What specific lessons do you remember from your school days?  I remember Mrs. Gallegos letting us watch Romeo and Juliet after reading the book in English class.  In Spanish, Sra. Huerta celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a Hispanic food pot luck.  The cat dissection in Anatomy and Physiology is a memory I won't soon forget.  I can still recall the first 20 digits of pi thanks to the competition held in math class on Pi Day.  However, while I remember the fundamentals Mrs. Gibson taught me in high school Chemistry because I use them every day, I can’t say there are any lessons from that class that particularly stand out.  The high school science curriculum is rigorous.  We are preparing students for college.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many chemistry holidays where high school science teachers can be creative, go a little crazy, and throw a party.  We chemists are a sad bunch.  As a Chemistry teacher in my 17th year of teaching, I know that many of my students will not go on to be...read more

Topics: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Mole Day, Chemistry, science

Don't Do What I Did

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

The following excerpts are from a speech delivered at the 2017 Beekman graduation and awards ceremony: Who hasn’t heard these phrases before: “Don’t make the same mistakes I did.” “I learned how to do this the hard way—learn from my pain.” “Don’t reinvent the wheel—just do it like I told you.” If students ever ask me about my college application process, the first thing I tell them is, “Don’t do what I did.”  In a manner that would give me heart palpitations if I tried it today, I didn’t even look at college catalogs (or their application deadlines) until winter vacation my senior year.  It was while I was sitting in my grandmother’s house snacking on hot apple cider and homemade monster cookies that I discovered that many colleges expected specialized standardized test scores that I didn’t have by deadlines that were coming in a matter of days.  I applied to two schools and was lucky to get into my first choice.  But it was precisely that—lucky.  Would I recommend this as the optimal...read more

Topics: graduation, failure, success, Maren Holmen

Summertime: Should the Livin' Be Easy?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Summertime—a season that conjures up mental images of long, lazy days that you never want to end.   For some, it’s memories of sleepaway or day camps; for others, it’s recollections of family vacations far from school or work. However, for a growing number of families, summer is a time to continue the work that students start in the school year.  As one parent once stated, “For us, the only difference between summer and the rest of the year is the name of the months.”  As a young teacher who would have enjoyed the opportunity to not spend six weeks in a classroom, I was taken aback by his seeming-unwillingness to allow his child to have a vacation.  As I’ve gained more experience, I can recognize his statement for what it is—an acknowledgment that one can’t spend three months trying to forget about school without actually forgetting your schooling. So what’s the balance?  Everyone needs time away, and summer programs for high school students strive to balance the serious work that’s...read more

Topics: Summer School, Summer, Maren Holmen

Transferring Schools: What Should You Ask?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

So, you know that you need to change schools – you’re transitioning from middle school to high school, you’re moving from one town to another, or you know that the current school isn’t a good fit.  Which questions should you ask regarding how to transfer schools? First, it depends on when you’re transferring.  If you’re changing schools at the beginning of a school year, you’ll need to notify the previous school where they should send all school records; if you are transitioning mid-year, the most important document will be a current transcript.  Having a transcript in-hand will help the new school determine where to best place your student. How to transfer high schools also depends on why you’re transferring high schools.   If you need to change schools mid-year, you will likely need to locate transfer-friendly schools.  These schools will have rolling admissions and hopefully have some flexibility so that you can continue to take the same courses you’d been taking at your previous...read more

Topics: transfer, Maren Holmen

Alumnus Profile: NY AIDS Walk’s Star Elizabeth Nerich

Authored by The Beekman School

Whether it’s seeking personal satisfaction, meeting like-minded people, enhancing our opportunities for professional advancement, or because of a personal connection, we get involved in philanthropic causes for different reasons. “My Uncle Gary died from AIDS when I was 3 years old. My mom was always really open about how he passed away and answered any questions I had about it. I just felt a connection with GMHC and the NY AIDS Walk instantly,” remembers Beekman alumna and NY AIDS Walk volunteer and team captain, Elizabeth Nerich—a fearless, ambitious and kind-hearted young woman. Ranking as 24th-highest individual fundraiser during the 2014 Annual New York AIDS Walk, getting into her first choice college, and working for one of America’s communications giants are no small feats!  To this day, Elizabeth acknowledges the support she received at The Beekman School to allow her to pursue her dreams.“Beekman is a really unique school. I’ve yet to meet another person who has had the same...read more

Topics: alumni, student success

Should You Switch From Public School to Private?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Often at this time of year parents are questioning the quality of the public school system and wondering if a move to private schools next year would be a better choice.  For decades, the private vs. public schools question has been debated. Every city has one or more top public schools where admission is highly competitive and the quality of that education is excellent.  But what if your child wasn’t able to get accepted to one of the selective public schools?  Would the switch to a private school then be the better choice? Start with a close examination of the public schools that you have been offered.  How large is the average classroom?  What percent of the graduating class goes to college?  What does the college acceptance list look like from the past several years?  Is there a high teacher turnover rate?  What is the educational background of the faculty? If the answers to these questions leave you unimpressed, then go to the websites of the private schools on your list.  (You...read more

Topics: private school, George Higgins

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