Developing Independent Thinkers: An Introduction to History Teacher Jennifer Dikes

By Ayumu Izumo

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There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the new teachers at Beacon this year. The history department alone has seen two new additions to its staff, one of whom is Jennifer Dikes.

In addition to serving as the faculty advisor for Beacon’s Model Congress team, Ms. Dikes teaches 11th-grade history and a 12th-grade history elective. She studies how countries like Chile and South Africa have developed their democracies from the 1990s to today. Ms. Dikes’s teaching style is centered around helping students become independent thinkers, an approach she believes nontraditional schools like Beacon should use: “It’s really important for the students to use their own skills and analysis, and use their sources.” This approach contrasts one where students only recall information provided in a lecture, without really having a chance to think.

Originally from Maryland, Ms. Dikes is an enthusiast in politics, history, learning, and fiction-reading, who is always ready to hear about what’s going on in the world. These passions led her to become a teacher. She explains, “I thought the best way to keep my interests in learning and history was to teach history to students.”

Prior to arriving at Beacon, Ms. Dikes taught 11th and 12th-grade history at the Baccalaureate School of Global Education in Astoria for 12 years, which she describes as a “much smaller community compared to here at Beacon.” The transition from a school of 500 students to one of 1300 students has been challenging for Ms. Dikes. She says that she feels the need to get to know people more at Beacon, especially the other teachers who work with her students.

Overall, Ms. Dikes has enjoyed joining the Beacon community: “I’m glad to be working here.” Even though the transition to a school like Beacon may be a struggle, Ms. Dikes is ready to make her mark as a teacher, eager to see her students succeed academically and think critically.