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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

Crossing the Border of Identity

Authored by Victor Ledezma, Spanish Teacher

As a language instructor, the fact that there is currently a debate in our country regarding immigration status, validity, and “illegality” is appalling and outlandish.  Instead of focusing on individual differences, perhaps the key is to focus on our similarities and our shared human experience to find common bonds that defy borders and limitations. Why do some people feel compelled to focus on differences that inevitably exist within every human being? Interestingly enough, the concept of similarity seems to be at the core of the controversy regarding theories that Disney is attempting to appropriate the Mexican Day of the Dead theme in order seem more culturally diverse by releasing a Pixar animated film entitled Coco in November 2017, that bears a striking resemblance to a film entitled The Book of Life (released in 2014) - about which I wrote in a previous blog.  The Book of Life was directed by Mexican animator Jorge R. Gutierrez and was celebrated as an homage to one of Mexico’...read more

Topics: Victor Ledezma, el dia de los muertos, The Book of Life, Mexico, Mariachi Gringo

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

Going Analog in a Digital World

Authored by Linli Chin, Physics Teacher

Have you noticed how some filters on your Instagram snaps make your photos look “old-school” or “lo-fi” with a vintage feel? Using these filters, our photos go through a digital process of wear and tear in order to give it more uniqueness, depth and personality. In this era of bits, bytes, ones and zeros, there has been a renewed interest in going low-tech that is being seen in the fashion, publishing, music, art and technology world.    Sales of vinyl records hit a 28 year high and mainstream stores such as Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods carry albums released by today’s top grossing artists such as Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. Nokia recently re-released their iconic 3310 model that has been reimagined with smart features but brings back the simplicity of a flip phone.    Following this trend, I took the opportunity to reintroduce my students to the golden age of photography with a project which had them constructing pinhole cameras from a kit made out of cardboard. This...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, Analog, digital, Pinhole camera

What is Personalized Learning and Why Can’t All Schools Offer It?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

More schools are using the term personalized learning on their promotional materials so, naturally, this trending buzzword in education has piqued parents’ interest.  What is personalized learning?  And, if it’s such a good thing, why can’t all schools offer it? Personalized learning schools are places where there are a variety of approaches to learning subject matter.  Academic support is available that can address the specific needs of a diverse student body, and individual students can receive the educational experience that best suits his/her distinct requirements. By definition, that would explain why every school can’t offer a truly personalized education.  Most programs have a structure that doesn’t support the many aspects of a program geared to diverse teaching styles for a wide variety of learners.  Often, larger schools with larger classrooms are less flexible.  There are schools that, by design, have created programs to include the many approaches to learning that can be...read more

Topics: personalized education, personalized learning, George Higgins

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