What is at the core of the Beacon Community?

Beacon is an inquiry-based, college preparatory school. The heart of Beacon’s curriculum is dynamic classroom teaching and performance-based assessment. Some components are:

Active Learning

At Beacon, classrooms are based on critical analysis, discussion, and debate. Inquiry learning includes requirements for original research and experiment design, emphasis on analytical writing, revision, and publication.

Habits of Mind and Work

Consistent throughout Beacon is an inquiry stance: encouragement of students to examine content from a variety of perspectives, to debate and discuss views, to support opinions with evidence, and to develop and use study and organizational skills.

Performance-based projects required for graduation

To graduate from Beacon, students must present and defend selected projects each year. Some examples of the performance-based projects are: an original science experiment and oral defense of the findings; application of higher-level mathematics to real-life situations; an original history research paper that includes an interview with an expert in the field; analytical essays on literature; and oral, written, and listening assessment in foreign language.

Multiple services to support students

Students get many opportunities to revise work and to discuss work with teachers. Students receive detailed responses on their written work, narrative reports on their progress in each class twice per year, and in-school and after-school tutoring. Homework and assignments are made available to parents and students though this website (see Parent Resources).

Technology Tools
Our website was launched in September 1997 and has continued to adapt to the demands of our community. Our website has become the hub of our learning community. It is a unique, individualized site, providing essential information to students, teachers, and parents. We publish important notices and news on a daily basis; teachers, parents, and students are encouraged to check the website on a daily basis.

Every student and staff member has an account which gives them space on Beacon’s file and web sever, an email account, and access to an individualized portal.

Logging into the portal provides a number of services including:

  • Entering homework assignments, accessible to both students and parents
  • Access class lists, student information, contact information etc
  • A variety of email functions to whole classes, parents, specific cohorts
  • A variety of online discussion forums
  • Student Reporting System where staff can both enter and access information
  • Online anecdotal progress reports, entered each semester
  • Online performance-based assessment scoring using rubrics

Logging into the portal provides a number of services including:

  • Access to their email account
  • Access to all homework assignments
  • Access to class and school-wide discussion forums
  • Quick access to all teachers’ email addresses
  • Access to all their performance-based assessment scores and rubrics

Parents use our portal system via their child’s ID number. This allows them to:

  • Access homework assignments
  • Access course descriptions and expectations
  • Contact teachers via email
  • Sign up to receive ‘Beacon Announce’ emails from administration and/or our Parents’ Association
  • Access Parent Association and Fundraising information



The science curriculum focuses on key concepts supported by regular lab experiments.  9th graders study Advanced Biology.  10th graders study Chemistry.  11th and 12th graders select from challenging electives such as Advanced Immunology, Data Modeling, Environmental Chemistry, Forensics, Immunology, Interactive Technology (Robotics), Physics, Physics of Sound, as well as Advanced Placement class in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

The math curriculum focuses on problem-solving and abstract thinking.  Math classes offered include Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, College Algebra, Fundamentals of Pre-Calculus, Probability and Statistics, and Advanced Math Applications, as well as Advanced Placement classes in Calculus.

The English curriculum focuses on critical analysis of literary texts and creative writing and poetry.  9th, 10th and 11th graders complete analytical essays and creative pieces for their final assessments.  Seniors choose from electives such as: African American Literature, Bad Romance: Doomed and Disasterous Love Stories Throughout Literature, Existential Literature, The Philosophical Journey, Writing Women, Wonderlands and Nightmares: Studying Magical Realish Through a Psychoanalytic Lens, as well as Creative Writing.

The history curriculum focuses on multiple perspectives, cause and effect, and argument and evidence.  9th and 10th graders complete a two-year global history sequence. 11th graders explore themes in US history.  Seniors select from electives such as: Constitutional Law, The Global Cold War, History of New York City, Gettysburg, India from Independence to Information Technology, Modern Chinese History, International Political Economy, Modern American Foreign Policy, Reel-to-Real: Can and Should We Learn History from Movies? and 20th Century American Social History.

Foreign Languages
The foreign language curriculum practices speaking, listening and writing language, along with cultural study.  Chinese, French, and Spanish languages are offered.  Advanced Placement courses are offered in Spanish and French.

Arts and Technology Electives
The arts curriculum offers different ways of understanding reality and expressing one’s self.  Ninth grade students get an exposure to different arts through the arts rotation which includes drama, dance and visual arts. 10th, 11th and 12th grade students select from an array of arts and technology electives each semester which include: Digital Film and Advanced Digital Film, Black and White Photography and Advanced Photo, Advanced Theater Arts, Capoeira, Choreography, Computer Animation, Creative Writing, Guitar/Songwriting, Hip Hop Jazz, Music Theory and Ensemble, Musical Production, Percussion, Studio Arts classes in Drawing, Painting, or Sculpture, as well a Studio Arts Honors program.

Advisory System

At Beacon, a small-group support system headed by a faculty advisor allows each student to grow with the same “home-room” group for four years, progressing towards the college acceptance process. Here students can discuss topics of teen concern in a non-academic atmosphere, and maintain a sense of continuity in a supportive, supervised environment. The advisor is also the primary contact between the school and the parents/guardian. At Parent-Teacher Conferences, parents/guardians meet with the advisor to discuss the student’s progress.


Community Service

Every 10th grader at Beacon does Community Service through the advisory. Community Service allows students to explore their political and social interests.  Students are placed in internships that are educational for the students and at the same time meaningful for the community.

The Beacon School has secured internships at organizations like Councilperson Gail Brewer, Assemblyperson Daniel O’Donnell, Congressperson Jerold Nadler’s offices, or the Public Advocate’s Office; Amnesty International and New York Civil Liberties Union; Planned Parenthood; Foundling and Mt. Sinai Hospitals; Global Kids; Harlem Live; the Museum of Natural History; the Central Park Conservancy and Brooklyn Zoo; the 92nd Street YMCA and many local schools and community centers.

For more information about Beacon's Community Service Program, click HERE

Extra-Curricular Activities
The Beacon School offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities as part of its mission to broaden the horizons of its students outside the classroom. Beacon strongly encourages all students to participate in some area of extracurricular life. Beacon clubs include: a Book Club, Beacon Otherground, Dance Club, Debate Team, End of the Tunnel Press, Gay/Straight Alliance, Live Poets Society, Mural Project, Music/Band, Photo Club, Smackdown Chess Club, Students Organizing Students, Student Council, Beacon Fellowship, The Catalyst, Theater, and Yearbook.

For more information on Beacon clubs, click HERE.