Teacher Feature: Ms. Bickel

Alexander Ganias, ‘20

If you take a look at the names of the members of the BHSECM faculty, you will find no shortage of hard-working teachers and officials in each department. One of these departments resides in the Academic Resource Center (ARC) in room 406. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to interview Ms. Bickel, a second-year teacher who works in the ARC. Here’s how it went down...

What do you do here at BHSEC?

I'm a special education teacher. My job is to make sure the classes I teach in are accessible to all students here at Bard. This year I am teaching two 9th grade geometry/algebra courses, one chemistry class, and college biology. I'm also doing an independent study in Psychology (which was what I studied in college).

Did you teach before you came here? If so, where?

I taught for six years at Belmont Preparatory High School in the Bronx. I taught special ed and general ed 9th grade Algebra. I also organized two college tours a year where I would take 40 students for three days around the Northeast seeing colleges and sightseeing.

What are some differences between this school and others you've taught at?

I want to preface this question with the fact that I really loved my students at Belmont and it was a very hard decision to leave. The school itself though was very different than Bard. I also had to be a very different type of teacher there. One year, I taught had a class of 36 students but my average general ed class was around 30 students and just me. Believe it or not, I was notoriously one of the strictest teachers in the school! I also taught about 75 out of the 110 freshmen every year so I knew pretty much every student in the school by name. That’s definitely a difference here at Bard since I still haven't met many Bard students.

What do you like about teaching here?

I like that every day looks and feels different. Being here keeps me on my toes and makes me think critically every single day. I also love having an office with my department where we can bounce ideas off of each other whenever we'd like. Our office is also a place a lot of students will come in and do work or see us for extra help, which is a nice way for me to spend time getting to know my students.

How does your first year compare to your second year?

My first year here was a culture shock for sure (I think anyone thinking back to their 9th-grade year can relate). While I'm just as busy, if not more busy, this year, it's nice knowing the lay of the land. Bard is a unique school, to say the least, and understanding the inner workings seems like half the battle. I also love that I know a lot more of our students this year!

If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing?

I would be working in fundraising for a non-profit like St. Jude or Make-a-Wish (or some other similar cause). That was something I was always very involved with in college and feel passionately about still.

What do you like doing in your free time?

I like to see plays, go to concerts, and explore the city. I like to run (fun fact: it is faster for me to run the five miles home than take the bus/subway, and I'm not a fast runner). I also love to travel- this year I've been to six new countries. I also love to read. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and am in the process of re-reading the series. I also really like to cook and have recently taken up baking.

What's the best school in the whole damn land?

BHSEC! And not just because you told me that had to be my answer (what? I never said that). I've spent a good amount of time working with admissions and meeting prospective students and I really do believe BHSEC is the best. As I tell [my] students, the reason I love Bard so much is that it's somewhere that I would have wanted to go to high school when I was a teenager. I can't believe what an amazing experience you guys get to have here and I am jealous of you all every day.

Ms. Bickel.  Credit: Alexander Ganias

Ms. Bickel.

Credit: Alexander Ganias