A framework for learning THE SPENCE SCHOOL Kâ€“12 CURRICULUM GUIDE
THE SPENCE SCHOOL
Mission Statement With a commitment to academic excellence and personal integrity, The Spence School prepares a diverse community of girls and young women for the lifelong transformation of self and the world with purpose, passion and perspective. Philosophy Statement Offering a rigorous, liberal arts study, The Spence School develops high standards and character while creating an environment that fosters self-confidence and the joy of learning. Charging our students to meet the demands of academic excellence and responsible citizenship in a changing world, we teach that diverse points of view fuel inquiry, engagement and deeper understandings of complex truths. We believe in the strength, intellect and vitality of women.
LOWER SCHOOL: K–GRADE 4 PAGE 2
MIDDLE SCHOOL: GRADES 5–8 PAGE 16
UPPER SCHOOL: GRADES 9–12 PAGE 28
NOT FOR SCHOOL, BUT FOR LIFE
WE LEARN Non scholae sed vitae discimus
Welcome to Spence! I invite you to explore The Spence School’s large and considered educational vista of opportunities for students in Grades k–12, which joins our students’ academic promise with exceptional teachers who have made a profound commitment to educating young minds. Our teachers’ goals are to meet students’ potential with a challenging curriculum that fuels their learning and their growth as scholars and human beings of the highest order. There is great joy in being a k–12 school and developing a structured and fulfilling curriculum focused on the framework and lens of young girls and young women. Our all-girls’ environment puts importance on self-agency, couples high expectations with open possibilities of academic leadership and embodies what it means to share sisterhood and womanhood in defining our own education. Spence ’s vibrant canvas of teaching and learning is inspired by Clara Spence ’s words, describing learning as an “intellectual and moral adventure.” This infuses our Long Range Plan and sets a strong foundation as we continue to design pedagogy and program to meet all essential ingredients for our students to thrive as engaged citizens in our diverse and changing world. We encourage you to read the Long Range Plan, “Teaching and Learning at Spence 2025: An Intellectual & Moral Adventure,” on our website. Ultimately, our charge is to prepare our students for the world ahead—ensuring that when they go beyond our Red Doors, they are ready for a vibrant citizenship with purpose, passion and perspective, and we welcome that challenge with open arms. BODIE BRIZENDINE, HEAD OF SCHOOL
2 Lower School: K–Grade 4
In the Lower School, children’s natural energy for learning finds momentum with our teachers’ passions for creating challenging experiences that meet them right where they are. Children are active learners, and when they learn by doing, they begin to connect one idea to another—a process that continues as they build foundational skills for scholarship and develop into more abstract thinkers and problem solvers. The curriculum is designed to provide opportunities for shaping students’ scholastic prowess and confidence. Throughout their time in the Lower School, our students are learning new ways to find answers to their questions, to express their ideas and to create something new and beautiful. We have high ambitions for them as they discover what it means to be an active member of a learning community and to contribute to their classroom, their school and eventually to the greater world. We strive to make sure every student feels that the Lower School is her second home. Our all-girls’ environment provides a dynamic platform for each student to develop her voice and identity—her race, ethnicity and culture—and to embrace curiosity and the value of different perspectives. Girls at Spence know they are vital members of our community and that they have the power to achieve their goals. ELIZABETH CAUSEY, HEAD OF LOWER SCHOOL
LOWER SCHOOL CURRICULAR PROGRAM
The inquiry-based Lower School science program inspires students to approach thinking and problem solving like scientists, whether they are collecting fossils, building bridges, measuring water quality, designing accessible playgrounds or programming a robot. Students observe, describe, investigate, analyze and explain a range of topics, including life cycles, energy and waves, Earth’s changing surface and the interdependence of organisms and their surroundings. Various sites in the City — Orchard Beach, Randall’s Island, Poricy Park, Hudson River and Central Park — provide context for learning and deepen students’ commitment to a more sustainable planet. An in-depth collaboration with STEAM combines purposeful use of technology with scientific exploration. Kindergarten Students learn to make careful scientific
observations, measure with different tools and record their findings in notebooks with pictures and words. Through engaging content that is connected to the social studies curriculum, Kindergarteners explore their five senses, build wood planters and study the life cycles of plants, butterflies and ladybugs in the science garden.
Grade 1 Students learn about the importance of their own habitat and compare it to the worm’s habitat in Central Park. They also explore the structure and function of simple machines, working with wheels, axles, levers, gears and inclined planes. During the science and music unit, students participate in sound experiments demonstrating vibration, sound waves, timbre, pitch and dynamics. Grade 2 Students develop careful observation, question-
ing, classification and testing skills. They study erosion, fossils and rocks while learning about how physical processes shape Earth’s landforms. They become “materials engineers,” building and testing natural materials and designing a sturdy wall. The students also create different types of bridges and conduct experiments that manipulate tension, compression and bridge load.
4 Lower School: K–Grade 4
Grade 3 Students use batteries, bulbs, wires and other con-
ductive materials to learn about electricity, and they build working circuits and investigate conductive and insulating materials. They also study the human body and become “biomedical engineers,” following experimental protocols to control a rapidly evolving virus. Students build a model of the virus and design an antiviral that prevents the virus from attaching to cells.
Grade 4 Students conduct science fieldwork at the
Orchard Beach salt marsh. Using water quality data and survey of species, they identify patterns and relationships and draw inferences about the health of the salt marsh. In the lab, students continue their exploration by studying a live marine organism. In collaboration with the STEAM program, students also solve challenges using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits and software.
From the Kindergarten’s identity program to Grade 4’s study of women change-makers, Spence students see themselves represented and learn that their voices are important in shaping a community — be it their class, the School or the larger world. Our integrated, project-based approach to social studies provides students with many opportunities for discovery and collaboration, and it guides them to gather, use and analyze data, develop research skills and solve problems. Students think deeply about how we come to learn more about one another and our world and develop their sense of responsibility as active citizens. Kindergarten Through different units, including self and
families, homes and homelessness, birds and life cycles, students learn to observe carefully, describe similarities and differences and make meaning of the world around them. The curriculum emphasizes cooperation as they learn more about themselves, each other, their classroom and School through stories, math projects, art and music.
Grade 1 Throughout the year, students learn more about equity and justice through studies of food, school community and playgrounds. Students read a range of texts, engage in discussion, analyze data, take field trips and create projects in which they learn about the importance of citizenship, service learning and activism. Grade 2 Students learn about what it means to be a member of a neighborhood and expand their understanding of citizenship and the interdependence of people as they study how communities can serve the needs of many people. They conduct research and design and construct their own city. As students become urban planners, they learn about geography, neighborhoods and government. Grade 3 Students work collaboratively and independently
on projects that target problem-solving and research skills. Building upon the Grade 2 curriculum, students connect their understanding of urban planning to the people of New York City — who they are and how they migrated here. Students also study topics such as stories of the civil rights movement, power, access and ability.
Grade 4 Students focus on two main units: identity and
women change-makers. They deepen their understanding of identity through family stories and explore how gender, race and culture are parts of one’s identity. They consider how sharing our ideas, beliefs and perspectives allows us to express who we are in the world. As a part of their study of history and geography, focusing particularly on the role of pioneering women, students learn what history teaches us about change and ways they can change the world through activism.
Students participate in a writer’s workshop process that allows them to see themselves as authors and examine various kinds of texts. Through small-group reading lessons, whole-group lessons and independent reading, students become active readers who question the text as they read and make connections to other works of literature and to their own lives. They become more independent and confident in their abilities and develop into readers who are not just learning to read but reading to learn and to gain broader knowledge.
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Obite et vel estempo rerem. Ut ut et de nonesti isciae quia ditas restessim qui corit, occae ma corumqu iatumquo cus.
6â€‚ Lower School: Kâ€“Grade 4
Kindergarten In daily read-alouds, students are introduced
to new ideas and vocabulary, they make predictions and ask and answer questions. During writer’s workshop, students share stories from home, create books, recipes, lists, signs and labeled pictures for our classroom community. Students learn to read as authors read, looking for words, rhythms and patterns in the English language that they might use in their own writing.
Grade 1 Students build good reading habits, ask questions, make predictions and infer meaning in the texts. In writing workshop, students write about events in their own lives and learn how to stretch this moment out into a story that includes a beginning, middle and end. They also experiment with craft techniques, such as descriptive language and line breaks. Grade 2 Students become active readers who question the text as they read. The students work on phonics, spelling patterns, word building and word recognition. Emphasis is placed on summarizing, analyzing, predicting and inferencing. Students learn spelling patterns, word building and word recognition. Students also work on skills such as researching, note taking, paraphrasing and organizing ideas. Grade 3 The central goal in this grade is to read and write
for meaning and with purpose. Students continue honing their skills in analyzing texts and deepening their ability to identify themes and literary devices. The texts are linked to the social studies curriculum and emphasize the understanding of identity, culture and multiple perspectives. Students sharpen their language skills by practicing the use of standard grammar, spelling and mechanics.
Grade 4 Students participate in literature discussion
groups and explore the craft of writing through responses to literature, creative writing and the composition of expository text. Students learn to independently revise, edit and generate ideas for writing. They support their ideas in writing using detailed examples and learn about paragraph structure, grammar and punctuation. In addition, they learn to use constructive feedback to revise their writing.
The k–4 mathematics program is designed to help students become flexible, efficient, accurate and creative mathematicians who enjoy complex problems and persevere in their solutions. Students build a repertoire of techniques and
approaches to explore problems in-depth, express their mathematical reasoning and prove their thinking verbally and in writing. They are encouraged to share, compare and discuss their strategies for solving problems while working collaboratively and independently. Kindergarten Students develop daily math routines; they
count and compare amounts, explore quantities and determine what comes next in a sequence. They are introduced to sorting and classification of objects, patterns of two or more variables and simple bar graphs. Students develop a greater sense of the number 10 through the use of visual images, 10 frames and Rekenreks.
Grade 1 Students identify patterns with numbers and explore how numbers can be represented in a variety of ways, for example, 10 as 5 +5 and 4 +4 +2. They develop their number sense by solving addition and subtraction problems and record and share their mathematical ideas and strategies in whole and small-group discussions. When working with larger numbers, students explore group counting and place value. Grade 2 Students extend their understanding of place value and build fluency as they develop the ability to work with efficiency and flexibility with numbers. They work on strategies for addition and subtraction and learn more about time, chronology, geometry, currency, fractions and multiplication. They learn to describe, compare and discuss their approaches to a variety of mathematical problems. Grade 3 Students investigate concepts of addition/subtraction, including the inverse relationship between these two operations. Students also learn about multiplication, beginning with the study of arrays and building toward accurate computation using both facts and flexible strategies. Concepts and skills introduced include computing with all four operations, solving word problems and exploring perimeter and area. Students also explore the meaning of fractions as parts of a whole. Grade 4 Students learn to solve multistep problems and
explain their reasoning orally, in writing and through collaborative classroom projects. Students work on factors and multiples and master multiplication, division strategies and fractions. Students also study historical time as a way to see the connection between math and history, time and measurement. They also work to create proofs that explain their logic and strategy.
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A DAY IN THE LIFE
GRADE 1 8:30 – 9:00 Morning Meeting
9:00 – 10:00 Reading/Writing
10:00 – 11:00 Science or Social Studies or STEAM
11:00 – 12:00 Lunch and Outdoor Recess
12:00 – 12:50 Math
12:50 – 1:40 PE or Dance
1:40 – 2:40 Art or Spanish or Music
2:40 Closing Circle
8 Lower School: K–Grade 4
Beginning in Kindergarten, students learn Spanish in a progression that is developmentally appropriate, collaborative and fun. Learning Spanish is a vibrant part of life in the Lower School, expressed in signs, poems, artwork and conversations. Students acquire everyday vocabulary, develop pronunciation, practice their emergent reading and writing skills and learn about traditions and cultural perspectives. Students learn Spanish in concrete and meaningful ways through activities such as singing, listening to stories and working with real objects. They also participate in interactive language activities, including producing skits, cooking, drawing or making traditional crafts. Vocabulary and linguistic elements are integrated in a natural and spontaneous way within the activities, projects and language games. Kindergarten Students sing, play group games, read aloud
and participate in movement activities and art projects, all of which are part of our immersion pedagogy. They learn an “Hola, buenos días” song and explore the vocabulary for feelings and emotions. They study colors and numbers (0–2 0) and use their emerging vocabulary to play games, as well as to count and identify familiar objects.
Grade 1 Spanish classes are entirely in Spanish. Each class starts by practicing different greetings and social interactions to learn about each other, such as “¿Cómo te llamas?” or “¿Cuántos años tienes?” Students practice the days of the week, months and numbers up to 31. They also learn how to ask for class materials used in daily activities in Spanish. Grade 2 Students use visuals and manipulatives, paired activities, group games, songs and hands-on projects to learn new vocabulary words and develop their listening skills. Using puppets and skits, they learn to ask basic questions, which helps them to advance their fluency. Morning Meetings in homerooms are entirely in Spanish once a week. Students also explore books in Spanish about different cultures, holidays and traditions. Grade 3 Students deepen their speaking and listening
skills while also learning to read and write in Spanish. Skill-building always takes place through the exploration of cultures, music and art. Through collaborations with the Visual Arts Department, students explore the materials and traditional art techniques that Mexican piñateros still use to this day. They also learn about food and study the
Mexican market, considering how the experience of shopping at el mercado differs from buying food at a modern supermarket. Grade 4 In their written practice, our young linguists
learn how to write questions and answers in full sentences. Pronunciation is emphasized through group/paired readings and through interactive games. Students learn about how to describe families, pastimes, occupations and the physical appearance of a person. They also learn about identity and self-descriptions based on Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.
With computer science at its core, the STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — program incorporates robotics, coding and engineering, all of which involve a great deal of creativity, design, experimentation and problem solving. Students learn the principles of programming — why and how we write programs — and explore building mechanisms. They develop digital and media literacy and become facile in utilizing digital tools in conducting research, creating presentations and using animation in storytelling. Students are presented with realworld engineering challenges, which they tackle through collaborative problem solving and trial and error. Grade 1 Students learn to use LEGO vocabulary and are
given a variety of challenges with the LEGOS including: How high can you build a wall? What can you add or remove from a car to make it go farther? Can you build a pair of glasses that are wearable and won’t fall off? These challenges are infused with the vocabulary of science and math, including measurement, variables and dimensions.
Grade 2 Students are introduced to coding principles and vocabulary; they learn Scratch (a coding application) and apply coding and computational-thinking concepts to create their own animations. They continue to develop their design skills by creating WeDo robots with motors, sensors and gears. Additionally, they design with LEGOS for a zip line to find out what will keep it up on the line or cause it to go faster/slower. Grade 3 Students review their foundational skills in
Scratch programming and deepen their understanding by designing and programming interactive games for their
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Kindergarten little sisters. Using MicroWorlds software, students participate in a cross-curricular collaboration with music, library and STEAM classes. Each Grade 3 student creates and programs an original animation from a line of a song, which is then presented to parents and as a gift to their Kindergarten little sisters. Grade 4 Students solve weekly challenges using LEGO
Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits and software. Challenges involve programming their robotic cars using motors and ultrasonic, touch and color sensors. They also learn about debugging — how to identify and resolve programming problems — and also use partnership skills when working on shared projects. Students also design and build their own robotic projects and create programs and applications for real-world scenarios.
Our art studio is a lab for students to explore materials, solve problems, hone their skills in creative expression and take risks. Art instruction begins in Kindergarten and continues throughout their time in the Lower School.
10 Lower School: K–Grade 4
Students create work in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fiber arts, papier-mâché and collage, and they learn the proper handling of materials and tools, while developing the ability to express their ideas visually. The curriculum builds on skills acquired each year and introduces more complex projects and new materials and techniques. The Lower School building serves as a rotating gallery of student artwork, keeping student creativity at the forefront of the Spence experience. Kindergarten Class projects focus on students developing
fine motor skills. Students learn to represent their ideas in identifiable form and gain artistic independence. They also explore texture and arrangement in collage and learn to convert a 2-D surface into a 3-D shape. Students form and glaze clay pinch pots, make finger puppets and use their puppets to share stories.
Grade 1 Students approach their art more purposefully, working with a variety of media and materials, including clay, collage, painting, drawing and printmaking and plan their work while considering techniques they should use in creating their designs. They learn about depicting a person
with projects including self-portrait paintings, printmaking and a collage called “Someone Who Cares About Me.” They also construct large papier-mâché sculptures of wild animals. Grade 2 Students become more sophisticated in their ability to represent their own experiences and begin to develop a sense of audience. They explore the concept of bodies in motion, carefully observing the body’s joints and angles of limbs to create figure paintings. They learn simple basics of design principles and consider repetition, symmetry and color contrast to create collaged patterns. Students are also introduced to embroidery and appliqué, silk screening and ceramic coil pots. Grade 3 Students take on larger projects and broaden their
understandings of artwork as a means to interact with the world. They learn about the work of installation artists and graphic designers, and after investigating a variety of installation artists from around the world, students create their own installation in the Lower School. In partnership with the Spanish Department, students explore the materials and traditional art techniques that Mexican piñateros still use to this day.
Grade 4 Students explore the relationship between them-
selves, their art, community and culture. While building upon their personal art-making and depiction skills, students begin to consider the many ways art functions in different cultures and disciplines, whether it be fashion, activism or performance. Examples include creating art and selling it to raise funds for disaster relief; investigating functional and fantastical designs and collaborating to create the scenery for the Grade 4 dance performance.
The music curriculum cultivates children’s love and appreciation for music while also teaching fundamental music literacy skills. They sing, play instruments, improvise and compose pieces that develop an appreciation for diverse genres of music and incorporate their new musical knowledge and skills. The music faculty frequently collaborates with science, art, dance and Spanish teachers to create projects that integrate curriculum. Annual performances provide students with the opportunity to share their musical knowledge and skills while increasing their sense of voice and community membership.
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GRADE 3 Monday
8:30 to 8:45 Music
Homeroom: Math, Snack, Academic Projects
Community Time Community Time
Homeroom: Academic Projects
Literacy Homeroom: Writing Homeroom: and Literacy Writing and Literacy
11:45 to 12:30
1:00 to 1:30
Terrace Homeroom: Individual Reading
Homeroom: Writing, Social Studies
2:15 to 3:00 3:00 to 3:15
12 Lower School: K–Grade 4
Homeroom: Snack, Math
Homeroom: Math, Snack, Literacy
12:30 to 1:00
1:30 to 2:15
8:45 to 9:45
9:45 to 11:45
Homeroom: Math Homeroom: Academic Projects, Reading Spanish Closing Meeting
Common Grade Time: Field Trips and Excursions
Kindergarten Through studying the musical work
“Carnival of the Animals,” by Saint-Saens, students learn musical concepts through a variety of multisensory activities. Ensemble singing requires the students to practice concepts such as musical memory and rhythmic, melodic and harmonic accuracy.
Grade 1 Students experience kinesthetic activities designed
to explore music through singing, moving, listening, improvising and playing classroom instruments. In the science and music class collaborative unit, students learn about vibration, sound waves, timbre, pitch and dynamics, and they build and play their own instruments. Students learn music and dances from around the world in the collaborative dance, music and Spanish unit.
Grade 2 Ensemble performance allows students to practice concepts such as musical memory and rhythmic, melodic and harmonic accuracy. They learn to understand music through singing, chanting, improvising, games, activities, moving, dancing, body percussion and playing classroom instruments. Sight-singing and ear-training become more complex and nuanced as their musical confidence and sensitivity to other singers and the conductor grows. Grade 3 Recorders become an integral part of music class
in this grade, and ensemble singing offers opportunities to practice music literacy, memory and harmonic accuracy. Music and the STEAM program collaborate to bring a folk song to life in a student-designed and student-performed animation project.
Grade 4 In chorus, singing in harmony requires the
students to hone concepts such as musical memory and melodic and rhythmic accuracy. The students continue to work in three distinct instrumental ensembles — recorder, ukulele and Orff instruments — developing strong foundational techniques on each instrument while increasing their overall music reading fluency. DANCE
The Lower School program centers on the delight in moving to music, gaining flexibility and developing body awareness. Students perform, choreograph, respond to dance works and develop a knowledge of dance history. A comprehensive and creative program, Lower School dance prompts students to develop skills in Western concert forms
and expose them to movement vocabularies from around the world. Students explore dance elements independently and through cooperative tasks, building their capacity as choreographers and collaborators. Kindergarten Students learn basic ballet positions and
vocabulary through the lens of 15 dance concepts. The class starts with the BrainDance, a sequential and holistic exercise, then explores dance concepts, practices technical skills and creates dances through improvisation.
Grade 1 Students explore dance concepts independently and in groups and cultivate their dance technique through basic ballet exercises. They participate in an extended unit on the concept of rhythm, looking at tap dance, dances of African origins and the Israeli folk dance Zemer Atik. They also create their own dances through improvisation and are encouraged to reflect on their movement experiences. Grade 2 Students strengthen their dance technique at the ballet barre. They learn folk dances and locomotor movement sentences as tools for choreography and developing their skills. Collaboration, observation and reflection are emphasized as the students create their own choreographic pieces. Grade 3 Students continue to explore the motif notation
symbols of the Language of Dance system. They also study jazz dance and further develop their observation and analysis skills by looking at works of choreographers such as Jerome Robbins and Alvin Ailey. Students work collaboratively to create a final choreographic project in a jazz style.
Grade 4 Students learn the dance technique of Lester
Horton and use that vocabulary as an entry point for their own choreography. They also continue to build movement skills in modern dance technique. In preparation for the end-of-year concert, students learn teacher-generated choreography in addition to developing their own phrases.
The Lower School program is recognized as laying the foundation of fundamental motor skills through practice, encouragement and instruction. The focus is on teaching
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movement exploration through play, cooperation, teamwork and development of personal and social behavior that encourages responsibility, collaboration, risk-taking and independent thinking. Kindergarten Students engage in foundational locomotor movements, such as running, galloping, skipping, hopping and jumping. Balancing, transferring weight, jumping, landing and rolling skills are also introduced in tumbling. Grade 1 Basic fitness concepts of flexibility, endurance and
strength are introduced. In tumbling, more challenging skills of backbends and kickovers are presented with differentiated instruction. Students work to improve their body strength to perform inverted movements, such cartwheels and handstands.
Grade 2 Students apply tumbling skills to high/low beams, bars and vaulting boxes, and they work to balance in inverted positions and create gymnastics sequences. They also begin to demonstrate an understanding of the four components of health-related fitness: cardiovascular and muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility. Grade 3 Students are provided challenges that are the building blocks for mature motor patterns and perceptualmotor skills. They learn to isolate movements or put them in combinations, as they apply to specific sport techniques. Grade 4 Students learn fundamental sport skills as they
combine mature motor patterns with perceptual skills (throwing to a teammate, dribbling a ball, receiving a pass or striking a pitched ball). They discover ways of working with one another within a team setting as they acquire the basics of team strategies and competition. K–4 LIBRARY PROGRAM
The library program instills in students a love of literature, delight in stories and appreciation for diverse fiction and nonfiction work. Students learn about the essential skills to evaluate and use information in books and online resources to develop critical-thinking skills and deepen their learning in content areas across the curriculum. The Lower School library helps students make connections, ask questions, learn how to investigate, construct meaning and express
14 Lower School: K–Grade 4
their ideas. Through reading a wide range of texts from cultures around the world and from various genres, they learn to take perspective, understand point of view and demonstrate social responsibility. Students also learn how to locate books, how the library is organized and how to use digital media to develop strong research skills. With the help of the librarian, at each grade, students become independent, confident and effective researchers. LEARNING RESOURCES TEAM
The Learning Resource Team strives to foster a sense of self-confidence in students and encourages them to become independent learners. The team’s learning specialists provide education and resources for teachers, students and families. They work together to best meet the needs of all students by offering support and enrichment. In close collaboration with the classroom teachers, they differentiate the curriculum to accommodate and challenge all learners. Lower School learning specialists partner with homeroom teachers in all grades to provide support and instruction in reading, writing and math and work with faculty to promote teaching strategies that enhance students’ strengths. EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES IN THE LOWER SCHOOL Second Act
Second Act offers after-school enrichment classes that engage children in hands-on learning experiences. The program is designed to allow students from Kindergarten through Grade 4 to attend classes from one to five days a week. Classes offered include art, music, science, chess, dance, sports, pottery, taekwondo, drama, cooking, woodworking, Spanish and Chinese. Second Act meets for three sessions a year — in fall, winter and spring. All programs are co-ed and open to students and siblings from other schools. Additional fees apply, and financial aid is available. Instrumental Music K–4
The instrumental music program arranges for individual instruction in classical music instruments during afterschool hours. Instrumental music teachers adapt lessons to each student’s ability and age, corresponding to what they have learned in music classes during regular school hours. Violin, cello and piano lessons are available for all Lower School grades. With instructor’s approval, flute and clarinet lessons may be arranged in Grade 3, and oboe, French
horn and trumpet lessons may be arranged in Grade 4. Opportunities to play in an ensemble may be provided for any two or more Lower School string or wind instrumentalists who request it. OUTREACH AND PUBLIC PURPOSE
In the Lower School, our approach to learning encourages young children to think about themselves and other people. They learn new practices that guide them to place curiosity over judgment. Community engagement happens daily through our large and small efforts and focuses on children gaining awareness and perspective. The F.A.R. model — familiarize, act and reflect — gives our students and teachers a framework for learning through service. Students reflect on how our School fits into the neighborhood as a part of an urban planning unit in Grade 2, which includes work at the New York Common Pantry. Measuring oysters for the Billion Oysters project helps our Grade 4 students gain scientific skills in understanding our planet. Our students step out
in the community from the first year they step into our School as an essential part of their learning. The K–12 curricula is anchored by shared understandings, such as “service is a reciprocal relationship,” that students explore in each division. The School’s ongoing work with nonprofit organizations helps students develop self-awareness and perspective as they learn how to make an impact on their community. NOTE For additional details on offerings and comprehensive course descriptions, including information on service learning as well as diversity in the curriculum, please visit www.spenceschool.org.
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MIDDLE SCHOOL The Middle School years are a time of enormous developmental change. No other time in the life of a school-aged child rivals the Middle School years in terms of human development. In the throes of identity development, Middle School scholars are impelled toward greater independence as they develop a sense of belonging and acceptance and give great consideration to their place in their school community. The foundation of the Middle School program is built from a deep understanding, shared by teachers, advisors and Grade Deans, of the spectacular developmental trajectory of our students and the inherent opportunities for academic and personal growth within an all-girls’ environment. Student learning in and out of the classroom deepens their selfknowledge as they build and reshape relationships, identify interests and talents, step into leadership roles, and from year to year experience greater independence and take on increased responsibility as members of the school community. Across all disciplines the program emphasizes the development and reinforcement of essential study, research and discipline-specific habits of mind and skills. These include analysis of primary source material; close reading of literature; expository writing in English and history; experiment design, implementation and data analysis in science classes; the study of increasingly complex grammatical structures in the modern and classical languages; the development of algebraic models and abstract reasoning in mathematics; technical skill development coupled with personal expression in the visual and performing arts; and the development of team play concepts and skills in PE. The advisory program, which supports identity development and community engagement, along with the weekly assemblies and a range of club offerings, complement the learning that occurs in the classroom. Through individual guidance and encouragement, teachers, advisors and grade deans support students as they strive to become agents of their learning. The core and co-curricula present multiple ‘voices’ that challenge students to appreciate a range of perspectives in order to deepen their understanding of the rich diversity of our world. This we believe to be foundational to meaningful and sustained learning, and a clear expression of our school motto: Not for school but for life we learn.” KAREN SULLIVAN, HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL
ENGLISH AND WORLD LITERATURE
The Middle School English and World Literature curriculum fosters the growth of close reading and writing skills through focused study of a variety of literary forms, such as the novel, short stories, epic, drama and poetry. Students learn to identify themes and to research background material from what they read, informing their greater understanding of the world. They also learn the elements of powerful, accurate writing through imitative and creative projects, assignments that enrich their analytic paragraph, short-essay writing and oral presentations. Grammar and vocabulary are taught at each grade level. Yearlong Courses Humanities 5: Creating America — Democracy, Freedom and Citizenship in the United States English 6: Family and Friendship in Imaginative Genres English 7: Social Justice English 8: Literary Heroines
The History Department instills in Middle School students a passion for history and joy in learning about the past. Through hands-on projects and creative group work, as well as more traditional in-class assessments and assignments, Middle School students develop skills in critical thinking, reading and writing, studying, public speaking and debate while exploring historical topics. After a focus on American history and civics, which builds on our Lower School social studies curriculum, students begin a global history sequence, immersing themselves in the study of various regions and time periods. In all courses, students examine primary sources and consider questions of culture and values, and they learn that history is not only the study of dates and events, but also an immersion in the richness of historical thought and exploration.
18 Middle School: Grades 5–8
Yearlong Courses Humanities 5: Creating America — Democracy, Freedom and Citizenship in the United States History 6: Ancient Greece, Rome and China History 7: Japan, Western Europe and West Africa, 500–1450 Global History 1: Early Modern World, 1450–1750
In the universe of numbers, there are truths and falsehoods. Fundamentally, mathematics is the business of figuring out which is which. The goals for our students are to experience the beauty of the discipline, master its essential content, and most of all, develop resilient, flexible and efficient problem-solving skills. Real problems are those to which one doesn’t already know the answer, so solving them requires persistence and ingenuity. Our students learn to experiment, notice patterns, make conjectures and generalize, test with counterexamples, construct convincing arguments, present ideas orally and in writing, use precise structures and language, gauge the reasonableness of answers and critique the arguments of others. Fluency of skills is critical for progress, and skills are learned in meaningful contexts so that each new idea contributes to a coherent big-picture understanding. In Grades 5 through 7, students complete their study of arithmetic relationships and lay foundations for algebra and geometry. Primary texts for these courses are from the Connected Math series designed at Michigan State University. Core topics include ratios, rates, fractions, decimals, percents, number theory, properties of operations and equality, integers, data analysis, probability, 2-D and 3-D geometric relationships, tessellations, area and volume, patterns and their generalizations, variable expressions, linear relationships and graphs and modeling real contexts with equations. Each unit is built around investigations that uncover key concepts; each investigation is followed by problem sets providing applications, reinforcement and challenging extensions.
In Grade 8, our high-school level sequence begins with a course comprising a rigorous treatment of Algebra I content, including linear, absolute-value and quadratic functions. This is the first year of an integrated and problem-centered four-year program, using as primary texts Math 1 through Math 4 published by Phillips Exeter Academy. (See Upper School Mathematics for more detail.) In class, students present their solutions to problems and, with the teacher’s facilitation, identify key concepts and surprising connections between mathematical ideas as they emerge. Yearlong Courses Math 5: Number and Space Math 6: Patterns and Generalization Math 7: Foundations of Algebra Integrated Math 8: Algebra
The Middle School science program is designed to give students a solid foundation in the discipline and to provide a link between scientific concepts and their application to real-world situations. We endeavor to cultivate in our students a sense of wonder, curiosity and awe about how
much the field of science has given us, along with the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. We want our students to understand that science is a process of creating and refining models of the world around us as we continually strive to find a balance between our need for resources and the long-term viability of our planet. In the Middle School years, courses are inquiry-based, allowing students to explore science through the process of asking questions and discovering possible answers by taking part in experiments and investigations. Topics in science that are relevant to their own lives are explored in each grade. Students contemplate both the world around them as well as the changes they witness in their own bodies. In the process, they develop the skills of reading critically, taking thoughtful and detailed notes and analyzing data. Students work both independently and with their classmates to solve problems. Classes are structured so that questions are encouraged, inevitably leading to even more questions. Yearlong Courses Science 5: Naturalist Studies Science 6: Investigative Science Grade 7: Human Biology Grade 8: Earth Science
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GRADE 5 Monday
8:15 8:30 to 9:30
Physical Education 5: Intro to Team and Individual Sports I
Health 5: Dimensions of Health
Physical Education 5
Morning Meeting Music 5: Grade 5 Chorus and General Music
9:30 to 9:45
Math 5 Break / Snack
9:45 to 10:45
Computer Science 5: Game Coding and Design
Science 5: Naturalist Studies
10:50 to 11:50
History 5: Creating America
11:55 to 12:30
12:30 to 1:00
1:05 to 2:05
English 5: Creating America
Computer Science 5
2:10 to 3:10
Dance 5: An Introduction
Math 5: Number and Space
Visual Arts 5
Extended Day, Athletic Games and Practices or Sabers’ Challenge
20 Middle School: Grades 5–8
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
In the rapidly evolving field of computer technology, we create learning environments for students to explore, create, design, engage, interact, and be challenged and empowered to master new technologies on their own. Interdisciplinary collaborations among the STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and math) provide great opportunities to enrich learning. In the Middle School, we help students develop digital literacies, emphasizing clear communication of ideas via compelling digital media and discernment of accurate and reliable information when using the internet. Coding and problemsolving are integral aspects of the program, building on skills and concepts learned in the Lower School. Yearlong Courses Computer Science 5: Game Coding and Design Technology 6: Digital Toolbox Technology 8: Programming and Physical Computing Yearlong Electives Computer Science and Robotics 7 Computer Science 8: Coding in Xojo
Latin Latin 7 Latin 8 Spanish Spanish 5 Spanish 6 Spanish 7 Spanish 8
Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The challenge is to remain an artist after you grow up.” The Middle School visual arts program in Grades 5 through 8 is designed to ensure that, as students mature through adolescence, they retain the aesthetic sensibility and the love of making art that they have developed in Lower School. Courses offer exposure to a range of media: photography, sculpture, drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media, ceramics and fiber arts. Students move through a variety of subject areas and receive multiple opportunities for personal expression and technical mastery. Yearlong Courses
MODERN AND CLASSICAL LANGUAGES
Entering Grade 5, students may choose to continue their study of Spanish from Lower School or begin a new language, either Chinese or French. Modern language teachers progressively conduct all classes in the target language as students participate in communicative exercises that enhance listening, speaking, reading and writing. An important goal of the program is to promote multicultural studies through various activities that recreate real-life situations and explore the culture of the target language. In Grade 7, and with permission, students may elect to enroll in a two-year program in Chinese or Latin, in addition to their current language. YEARLONG COURSES
Chinese Chinese 5 Chinese 6 Chinese 7 Chinese 8 French French 5 French 6 French 7 French 8
Visual Arts 5 Visual Arts 6 Visual Arts 7 Visual Arts 8
PERFORMING ARTS Music
The Middle School music curriculum emphasizes the belief that the study of music develops the intellect, the personality and the emotions. A genuine appreciation for music must be supported by an understanding of the active making of music (singing, playing, composing), by the skill of listening and by a knowledge of a variety of musical forms and historical periods. The department also offers students opportunities to take private instrumental lessons, join the Spence Orchestra (by audition), join choral groups and to perform in musicales, ensembles and concerts. Yearlong Course Music 5: Grade 5 Chorus and General Music Semester Courses Music 6: Introduction to Composition and Music History Music 7: Music in the Baroque and Classical Periods Music 8: Music in the Romantic Period and 20th Century
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The Middle School drama curriculum helps students establish and develop a foundation of techniques in classroom exercises and presentations that carry them toward performance before an audience in the annual Grade 8 play. These concepts are the basis for all acting and drama presentation, and they include working with relaxed, focused energy and concentration; developing group cohesion and trust; cultivation of spontaneity and pantomime capability; aptitude for creating character and structuring good dramatic narrative; and ongoing engagement in imaginative problem-solving.
In Grades 5–7, students participate in a full-year course that provides instruction in a wide range of individual and team sports. Three- to four-week units include instruction in soccer, tchoukball, rock climbing, volleyball, floor hockey, basketball, team handball, badminton, softball, and track and field. In Grade 8, units of study include traditional sports with the addition of fitness and conditioning, rock climbing, alternative types of invasion, target and net sports, lifetime activities and outdoor activities. This broad-based sports curriculum provides different approaches toward the acquisition of physical skills and concepts of team play. Health and skill-related fitness concepts are incorporated through the Physical Best curriculum.
Semester Courses Drama 5: Introduction to Drama Drama 6: The Actor in an Ensemble Drama 7: Scene Study Drama 8: Performance Studies
The Middle School dance curriculum aims to develop students’ dance skills and kinesthetic awareness in terms of dynamic alignment, balance, articulation, isolation, efficiency, weight transfer and the initiation of movement in the body. Classes are taught in a supportive environment in which students are encouraged to express themselves creatively, take individual initiative and experiment with dance forms. The art of choreography is emphasized as students progress through the program. Students in Grades 6 through 8 can join performance ensembles that participate in the annual Dance Concert. Yearlong Courses Dance 5: An Introduction Dance 6: An Introduction to Composition and Choreography
Extracurricular Offerings in Performing Arts Yearlong Courses Sixth-Grade Chorus Middle School Chorus Instrumental Lessons Orchestra Grade 8 Play Sixth-Grade Dance Company Middle School Dance Company Middle School Dance Ensemble
Yearlong Courses Physical Education 5: Introduction to Team and Individual Sports I Physical Education 6: Skills, Concepts and Strategies of Team and Individual Sports I Physical Education 7: Skills, Concepts and Strategies of Team and Individual Sports II Physical Education 8: Alternative Invasion Games, Team Sports and Lifetime Activities
Building on a foundation of knowledge and skills developed in the Lower School, students learn that good health is an integrated state of physical, mental, emotional and social well-being — much more than simply the absence of illness. The program aims to provide responsible health education that promotes self-respect, respect for others and regard for parental values and encourages communication between students and their parents on health issues. All courses present students with developmentally appropriate information and teach them the decision-making skills that they need to make choices central to their own health and well-being. Yearlong Courses Health 5: Dimensions of Health Health 6: Reflections on Wellness Health 7: Health Literacies Health 8 (Seminar Program): Topics in Adolescent Health
The Spence Middle and Upper School Library is a comfortable and engaging student-centered space as well as an active portal for information.
22 Middle School: Grades 5–8
GRADE 7 Monday
8:15 8:30 to 9:30
Visual Arts 7
Physical Education 7
Morning Meeting Math 7: Foundations of Algebra
Physical Education 7: Skills, Concepts and Strategies of Team and Individual Sports II
9:30 to 9:45
Visual Arts 7 Break / Snack
9:45 to 10:45
English 7: Social Justice
10:50 to 11:50
11:55 to 12:30
12:30 to 1:00
1:05 to 2:05
History 7: Japan, Western Europe and West Africa, 500–1450
2:10 to 3:10
Visual Arts 7
3:15 to 5:00
Athletic Practices and Games
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Middle School students use the library to access print materials and online databases, practice research skills, navigate the internet, develop strong study habits and select age-appropriate books for recreational reading. Research projects in several disciplines offer opportunities to use the library in individual and group sessions, and library staff actively collaborate with classroom faculty on the development and implementation of these projects. Library staff also prepare online tutorials and research guides that support students’ independent research. RESOURCE DEPARTMENT
In the Middle School, Learning Specialists collaborate with faculty to support student learning and promote teaching strategies that benefit a range of learning styles. Support sessions for individuals and small groups of students address the development of study skills, organizational skills and literacy skills. The Resource Department offers Readers and Writers Workshop for students with documented learning differences, as an alternative to modern and classical languages. These classes are a study of active reading, vocabulary and written expression. Academic Workshop is offered as an elective that explicitly teaches study skills and strategies to support the development of executive functioning skills (organization, time management, planning and execution). Academic Workshop meets twice a week and is available to any student who might benefit from this type of program. The goal of all Resource Department work is to help students better understand their unique learning profiles and learn how to confidently advocate for themselves at Spence and beyond. EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AND CLUBS
Spence appreciates the importance of a broad and varied educational experience for Middle School students, and Middle School clubs provide opportunities to engage in activities outside the classroom. Clubs allow for the expression of already existing passions and the discovery of new ones, provide leadership opportunities and advance service work in the Spence community and beyond its walls. As members of Middle School clubs, students converse about and explore shared interests, work collaboratively with classmates and students from other grades, develop important cooperative skills and engage in fun extracurricular learning.
24 Middle School: Grades 5–8
The following are examples of Middle School clubs (a current list is available from the Middle School office): A Capella App Inventor Club Athletic Association Chinese Club Cinematic Appreciation Club Classics Club Coding Club Debate Club Documentary Club Engineering Club Environmental Club First Lego League Partners French Club Gender Sexuality Alliance International Issues Club & Girl Up (IICGU) Kindness Club Math Olympiad Club Math Team Meditation Club Minecraft Club Musical Theater Club MS News (the Middle School newspaper) Mystery Club Page Turners Club Photography Club Poetry Club Social Justice Club Spanish Club Sports Fan Club Students of Color Affinity Group (SOCA)
The Middle School Student Council promotes the Middle School community standards as expressed in the Conduct Statements developed by each grade, acts as communication liaison between students in their grade and the other council members and provides experiences that foster Middle School spirit. Elected representatives from each Middle School grade form the Middle School Student Council. Students in Grades 7 and 8 are elected by their classmates for yearlong terms, and students in Grades 5 and 6 serve for half of the year, giving the younger members of the Middle School more opportunities to run for and serve on the council. Council members plan and run Friday morning meetings for the Middle School, implement community-building activities and support Middle School initiatives. The council meets weekly and is co-advised by the Head of Middle School and a member of the Middle School faculty.
OUTREACH AND PUBLIC PURPOSE
The Spence School has an enduring tradition of outreach into the community. In her 1910 Commencement address, Clara Spence said, “We are only parts of the whole, and it is only when the separate self loses itself and the great self is recognized as that for the sake of which we are living in the world, that happiness and service are possible.” Now, so many years later, community outreach happens daily through small efforts and large, teaching important lessons about the needs of others and encouraging an awareness of the world outside the School. At Spence, the Director of Outreach and Public Purpose facilitates these efforts with the Service Team by developing and managing K–12 opportunities for community service, primarily in New York City. The K–12 curriculum is anchored by shared understandings, such as “service is a reciprocal relationship” that our students unpack and explore in each division. Through sustaining partnerships through all three divisions with neighbor organizations, our students develop their understanding of how they can impact their community as they grow through our School. Partnerships with local nonprofit organizations, such as our Grade 2 coding camp for girls with Harlem Children’s Zone, allow us to use our resources to mutually benefit those in and outside of our School. When we collaborate with partners, we always end up with a program that is stronger than it would be without the partnership. In the Middle School, our students volunteer in organizations such as Room to Grow, an organization that supports mothers under the poverty line, and Stanley Isaacs Center, an organization that provides services for families and the elderly who live a few blocks from Spence. These projects are built into our advising system and happen at each grade level. MIDDLE SCHOOL ATHLETICS
The Middle School athletics program provides opportunities for student-athletes to develop a sense of belonging and unity while pursuing their passion for sports. The objective at the Middle School level is to gain experience with the goal of developing self-esteem, confidence, fundamental sport skills, basic strategies and an understanding of teamwork. The department is committed to the philosophy that achievement and success are found not only in winning but also in striving for victory and giving maximum effort. Students reach higher performance levels as they progress through the Middle School grades.
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26 Middle School: Grades 5–8
Athletics 5 and 6
The athletics experience in Grades 5 and 6 is a time for exploration and discovery. Students have the opportunity to participate in a multitude of activities in various settings. This age-appropriate focus on skill development and socialization is reflected by the diverse program offerings. Coaches include all interested students and help them develop the social and sport-specific skills necessary to prepare for competition. Each season includes small-sided and in-school games and, whenever possible, the season culminates with interscholastic play. Grades 5 and 6 teams meet two days per week (Tuesday and Thursday) with an occasional game occurring outside of the regularly scheduled practice days. There is no selection process, and students may join one team per season. Fall Cross Country Sabers’ Challenge Soccer Volleyball
modeling of the Upper School athletics experience. There is notable emphasis placed on honoring commitment to the team, accountability to others and developing the time-management skills necessary for the heightened expectations of the competitive Grades 7 and 8 program. Regular attendance is expected at all practice and games, and playing time is based on skill and the ability to employ team strategy, heed coaching and demonstrate sportsmanship. Playing time is not equal, and not every team member plays in each contest. Grades 7 and 8 teams meet three days per week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday). Games may occasionally occur outside of the regularly scheduled practice days and season-ending tournaments may occur on a Saturday. There is no selection process, and students may join one team per season; however, once the sign-up deadline has passed, students may not join or switch teams. Fall Cross Country Soccer Volleyball
Basketball Sabers’ Challenge Swimming
Lacrosse Softball Track and Field
Sabers’ Challenge Softball Track and Field
Sabers’ Challenge offers a unique and diverse program each sports season. It meets one day per week, and its activities are seasonal and derive from student interest. Students participating on Grades 5 and 6 sports teams are not permitted to participate in Sabers’ Challenge during the same season because of its conflict with the team practice commitments.
NOTE For additional details on offerings and comprehensive course descriptions, including information on service learning as well as diversity in the curriculum, please visit www.spenceschool.org.
Athletics 7 and 8
The athletics experience in Grades 7 and 8 is the gateway to the competitive program of the Upper School. The program’s breadth is reflective of the sport experiences in the Upper School. Utilizing a “no-cut” policy, the program fosters an increased level of competitiveness, skill development and game strategy in an age-appropriate
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Academic excellence stands at the center of a Spence education. Our students work with an outstanding faculty possessing high expectations of them and a firm understanding of the challenges of adolescence and unique joys and opportunities of teaching in an all-girls’ environment. Spence subscribes to the idea that its educational environment is the most powerful way for girls to gain and maximize the scholastic voice and leadership skills they will need once they graduate. Through the advisory and the grade-level dean systems, the girls understand how to form authentic relationships with the adults in the School, enabling them to share their knowledge and continue to shape and reshape their thoughts. In Upper School classrooms, we know that teaching our students to engage multiple perspectives is essential to their education. We value that principle and we commit ourselves to it, as exemplified in the School motto, Not for school but for life we learn. Our curriculum is designed to include a variety of voices that open up the classroom to a larger world so that a girl can find herself, her race, her ethnicity and her culture reflected in what she studies. As Spence girls make their way through the Upper School, the work takes on more complex and sophisticated dimensions, and learning becomes much more than an accumulation of facts. The required courses and the choice of electives promote thinking across the disciplines and knowing how to analyze and integrate information, as well as learning how to share, to collaborate with and to teach others. A Spence education is an intellectual journey that is engaging, powerful and purposeful. Equally important are the co-curricular offerings in athletics, and in performing, dramatic and visual arts. Through student organizations, clubs and opportunities for service learning — all integral pieces of a Spence education — as well as athletics and the arts, our students are encouraged to explore and take on roles of leadership. In our co-curricular program, they begin to discover their potential and set out to create their own experiences. At Spence, each girl has an opportunity to achieve her own goals and aspirations.” MICHÈLE KRAUTHAMER, HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL
ENGLISH AND WORLD LITERATURE
The Upper School English and World Literature curriculum is designed to help students advance their interpretive thinking, analytical reading and writing skills through the study of a variety of texts. These works reflect our evolving definitions of literature, gender, cultural context and writing practice. Major genres, including the novel, short story, poetry, drama and film, are studied in yearlong courses and more exclusively and intensively in semester electives. Students’ work takes a variety of forms, including formal, informal and creative writing, teaching presentations, class drama and film productions and projects.
The History Department fosters in Upper School students an appreciation for the richness of their world by discovering the impact of social, political, geographic, economic and cultural patterns within and across time periods; researching primary sources that present different perspectives on historical events, along with the ideas and debates behind them; and analyzing and synthesizing their sources to produce original research. Our core program continues the global history sequence begun in Middle School and then returns to an in-depth study of United States history. Subsequent electives allow students to investigate more closely topics of particular interest, including those in American and global studies, philosophy, women’s studies and civil rights. Throughout the program, students increase their curiosity, develop their capacity for critical and creative thinking, and expand their openness to new ideas and different ways of experiencing our common humanity.
Yearlong Courses English 9: Home and Away English 10: American Literature Semester Electives African Literature African-American Literature American Immigrant Literature Caribbean Literature Creative Writing The Essay Film Studies The Graphic Novel Indian and South Asian Literature Latin American Literature Literature of the Jewish Diaspora Literature of Indigenous People The Lonely Eye (I) The Literature of China and Japan Sexual Identities Shakespeare Studies in Drama Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Literature Studies in Poetry Studies in the Novel Women’s Literature
30 Upper School: Grades 9–12
Yearlong Courses Global History II: Late Modern World, 9 United States History, 10 Economics (Grade 11 and 12 elective; interdisciplinary with mathematics) Semester Electives (One required each semester of junior year; and students are encouraged to continue their study of history during senior year) African Political Thought American Art History American Cultural History Asian Art History Black American History: Emancipation to the Present Constitutional Law: Civil Rights & Liberties Economics (yearlong) Global Women’s History History of New York City Modern East Asian History Modern Middle East and North Africa Peace, Perception and Power: An Introduction to International Relations
Revolutions in Latin America United States History: 1968–present United States Women’s History
In the universe of numbers, there are truths and falsehoods. Fundamentally, mathematics is the business of figuring out which is which. The goals for our students are to experience the beauty of the discipline, master its essential content, and most of all, develop resilient, flexible and efficient problem-solving skills. Real problems are those to which one doesn’t already know the answer, so solving them requires persistence and ingenuity. Our students learn to experiment, notice patterns, make conjectures, generalize, test with counterexamples, construct convincing arguments, present ideas orally and in writing, use precise structures and language, gauge the reasonableness of answers and critique the arguments of others. Fluency of skills is critical for progress, and skills are learned in meaningful contexts so that each new idea contributes to a coherent big-picture understanding.
In Grades 9 through 11, students follow a sequence of integrated, problem-centered courses, using as primary texts Math 1 through Math 4 published by Phillips Exeter Academy. Courses are integrated because the study of geometry, transformations, vectors, matrices, combinatorics and data analysis are woven throughout the curriculum so that meaningful connections are developed to a core strand of algebraic techniques. Courses are problemcentered because they are designed around carefully constructed sequences of problems where all needed information is embedded in the questions themselves. Class is structured as a seminar where students present problems and discuss their approaches. The teacher helps students evaluate the effectiveness of different strategies and identify key ideas that emerge. In this way, students develop a deep conceptual understanding and gain genuine authority as mathematical thinkers. In Grades 11 and 12, a broad range of elective courses is offered, reflecting the variety of engaging problems and styles of thinking across different fields of higher mathematics.
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Advanced Biology, 12 Advanced Psychology, 12 Forensic Science: The Study of Evidence and Crime, 12
Integrated Math 9 Integrated Math 10 Integrated Math 11 Integrated Math 9 through Integrated Math 11 include all material from a traditional Geometry–Algebra II–Precalculus sequence, plus additional topics from discrete mathematics and statistics, covering all of the important and relevant Grades 9–12 topics. See course descriptions on the School’s website for details. MATH ELECTIVES
Semester Electives Advanced Chemistry: Organic chemistry Advanced Chemistry: Applied chemistry Advanced Physics: Classical Mechanics Advanced Physics: Modern Physics Topics in Bioethics, 11–12 Topics in Environmental Ethics
Calculus, 12 Economics, 12 Game Theory (offered through Interschool) Linear Algebra (may be taken concurrently with Calculus) Multivariable Calculus Problem Solving (offered through Interschool) Statistics, 12
Independent Science Research, 10–12
Semester Electives Graph Theory, 11 or 12
Our program is designed to give students a solid foundation in science and to provide a link between scientific concepts and their application to real-world situations. We endeavor to cultivate in our students a sense of wonder, curiosity and awe about how much the field of science has given us, as well as the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. We want our students to understand that science is a process of creating and refining models of the world around us. In the Upper School years, students build upon skills they have already begun to develop and explore material with increasing depth and rigor. The questions they formulate about testable phenomena become more sophisticated and nuanced. More advanced equipment appropriate to the level of inquiry is utilized. Students also hone the skill of developing well-supported conclusions in both oral and written form. Critical analysis of data and a healthy dose of skepticism are fostered through class discussions as students explore the breadth of scientific knowledge and its meaning in their lives. Yearlong Courses Physics, 9 Chemistry, 10 Biology, 11
32 Upper School: Grades 9–12
Independent Science Research (ISR) is a unique opportu-
nity for students to delve deeply into an aspect of science that interests them. Through this three-year elective, students perform actual research and participate in the greater scientific community, working alongside researchers in a laboratory setting. In this experience, students take the lead. In the first year of the program, they work through the challenging process of identifying and securing a mentor with the support and guidance of their teacher. Students spend the next two years conducting original research whereby they will create testable hypotheses, perform experiments, analyze the results and provide conclusions from their work. The students’ success is measured by their passion for their work, their initiative to take on a project independently and their commitment to see a task through to its completion. Many students have had the opportunity to co-author published research with their mentors and used this experience as a launching point for careers in science, medicine and engineering.
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Believing in the strength, intellect and vitality of women in computing, the Computer Science Department teaches students how to leverage the power of the computer to implement algorithms for solving problems and engage in creative self-expression. Through the iterative process of design, experimentation and revision, students develop resilience, computational expertise and innovative thinking. We offer a variety of semester-long electives, as well as a sequence of rigorous, yearlong courses in computer science and engineering. Semester Courses Coding with Processing, 9–10 Wearable Technology, 9–10 Web Design & Development, 9–10
GRADE 9 8:15 to 9:15
Integrated Math 9
Semester 1: Photography Semester 2: Web Design & Dev.
Global History II
9:15 to 9:45
Collaborative / Community Time
9:45 to 10:45
Latin II: Introduction to Latin
10:50 to 11:50
Global History II: Late Modern World
Semester 1: Photography Semester 2: Web Design & Dev.
11:55 to 12:25
12:30 to 1:00
Community Service Club
1:05 to 2:05
English 9: Home and Away
Global History II
Integrated Math 9
2:10 to 3:10
Spanish III: Intermediate
Integrated Math 9
3:15 to 5:00
Athletic Practices and Games
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Yearlong Electives Computer Science I, 9–12 Computer Science II, 10–12 Advanced Computer Science: Computing Systems, 11–12
MODERN AND CLASSICAL LANGUAGES
The Upper School language program is both a continuation of the Middle School program and an opportunity to begin a new language. All of the modern language classes emphasize the development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills that lead to effective communication. At the beginning and intermediate levels, our Chinese, French and Spanish classes focus on developing oral proficiency, listening comprehension and a knowledge of grammar appropriate to these levels. In more advanced classes, our modern language students read and discuss longer passages and full-length works in the target language, as well as participate more actively in discussions of contemporary issues. At all levels, there is a focus on the diversity, history and culture of the countries where these languages are spoken.
34 Upper School: Grades 9–12
Continuing Latin students finish learning all the significant grammar by the end of Latin II. They translate and discuss selections and works by Caesar, Cicero, Pliny, Catullus, Virgil, Horace and Ovid in subsequent years. Greco-Roman mythology, literature and culture are integrated into the curricula at all levels. Students who wish to begin a new language may sign up for introductory Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish. Classes run contingent on enrollment. CHINESE Yearlong Courses Chinese I: Introductory Chinese, level 1, 9–12 Chinese II: Introductory Chinese, level 2, 9–12 Chinese III: Intermediate Chinese, level 1, 9–12 Chinese IV: Intermediate Chinese, level 2, 10–12 Chinese V: Communications in Modern China, level 1, 11–12 Chinese VI: Advanced Chinese: Contemporary China in the Global Community and Its Relations with the US, 11–12
FRENCH Yearlong Courses French I: Introductory French, part 1, 9–11 French II: Introductory French, part 2, 9–12 French III: Intermediate French, 9–12 French IV: Topics in French Literature and Culture, 10–12 French V: Studies in French and Francophonie, 11–12 French VI: Advanced French Literature: Literature and History of Ideas, 12
Painting & Drawing Photography Printmaking Sculpture and 3-D Design Senior Studio The Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora 3-D Design and CAD Yearlong Courses Advanced Art Portfolio
Latin I: Introduction to Latin, part 1, 9–11 Latin II: Introduction to Latin, part 2, 9–12 Latin III: Selected readings from Roman Authors, 9–12 Latin IV: Latin Literature: Gender and Power in Catullus and Cicero, 11–12 Latin V: Latin Literature: Virgil’s Aeneid, 11–12
Art Scholars is a program designed for students who have an exceptional interest in visual art. Students meet twice a week in addition to their required art classes and develop skills and learn about experiences different from those offered in the existing art program. When appropriate, the program facilitates connections to other areas of learning. What is valued most in Art Scholars is the creative journey of each student, including processes and outcomes not traditionally considered fine art.
Spanish I: Introductory Spanish, part 1, 9–11 Spanish II: Introductory Spanish, part 2, 9–12 Spanish III: Intermediate Spanish, part 1, 9–12 Spanish IV: Intermediate Spanish, part 2, 10–12 Spanish V: Composition and Conversation, 11–12 Spanish VI: Language and Literature of the Spanish-Speaking World, 11–12
The Upper School music curriculum allows students the chance to further learn about the world of music from diverse historical, theoretical and performance perspectives. Exploring music from various thematic and social perspectives, this class explores global music practices and a wide variety of genres and time periods in New York City. Additional advanced classes in composition and history are offered as single-semester electives in Grades 11 and 12. Students interested in vocal or instrumental performance have the opportunity to join choral and orchestral ensembles and to take private instrumental lessons. Performance opportunities include the winter and spring concerts, orchestra concerts and instrumental musicales.
LATIN Yearlong Courses
VISUAL ARTS “It is a matter of realizing potentialities. It is not a matter of ‘adding to’ but of ‘developing,’ of ‘evolving.’ We contain within ourselves a world of capacities, of possibilities, which the outer world summons forth, speaks to, releases.” — M .C. Richards
Semester electives and discipline-based studios in the Upper School give students the chance to explore specific media in-depth. Throughout the program, emphasis is placed on the visual expression of ideas, the creative value of taking risks and making mistakes, in addition to a vibrant combination of careful planning, visual problemsolving and experimental play. Semester Electives American Art History: 19th Century American Art History: 20th Century Ceramics Ceramic Sculpture Multimedia & Materials
Semester Electives: Global Practices in Music, 9–12 Music in New York City, 9–12 The Complete Musician: Music Theory (Advanced), 9–12 Yearlong Electives: Glee Club, 9–12 Orchestra, 9–12
Upper School drama classes enable students to follow two paths of study: students who wish to explore drama through the rehearsal process and performances before an audience, and students who want to study the discipline
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8:15 to 9:15
The Literature of China and Japan
Sculpture and 3-D Design
Junior College Seminar
9:15 to 9:45
Collaborative / Community Time
9:45 to 10:45
Integrated Math 11
Chinese II: Introductory Chinese
10:50 to 11:50
11:55 to 12:25 12:30 to 1:00
1:05 to 2:05
Sculpture and 3-D Design
The Literature of China and Japan
Integrated Math 11
2:10 to 3:10
Spanish V: Composition and Conversation
Integrated Math 11
The Literature of China and Japan
3:15 to 5:00
36 Upper School: Grades 9–12
Athletic Practices and Games
but do not wish to perform publicly. Each of these groups will investigate theater as an event, in addition to considering the theater as a historical evolution of social, political and human psychological influences. Working theoretically and practically, students will investigate the elemental components of theatrical expression, the role of the actor, creative leadership in directing, playwriting and the evolution of drama from primitive ritualistic celebrations to what we now define as modern drama. Plays, written materials and the approach to all student engagement in drama exercises will be guided by consideration of global and cultural perspectives, expressive language, themes of the human experience and significance to the Spence community. Students in drama can expect to accomplish most of their work during class time, minimizing homework, with substantial peer review of their progress. Semester Electives Acting 101: Scene Study, 9–12 Advanced Performance Studies, 11–12 Acting Company, 9–12
Through a historical lens, students research prominent dance choreographers while simultaneously learning the fundamentals of dance composition. By studying examples of legendary dances, students are inspired and directed to create their own dance works. They research and share their creations within the class. The process and structure of the assignments introduces students to the craft of dance-making through teacher-led exploratory and improvisational-based exercises. In class discussions, videos and creative lab work help students develop the vocabulary and skills necessary to choreograph their own work. No prior choreographic experience is necessary. Students bring their own personal movement language and ideas to the table as they learn the fundamental tools of dance composition. Semester Electives Dance Composition: Exploring Self, 9–12 Dance Company, 9–12
Extracurricular Offerings Dance Ensemble, 9–12
Extracurricular Offerings in Performing Arts
The physical education program is a curriculum that uses movement as a medium for growth and self-discovery. One of the main objectives of the program is to equip students with the skills and self-confidence to embrace new challenges while providing enjoyable experiences that promote healthy, active and creative lifestyles. The diverse curriculum is designed to develop skills, fitness and a lifetime commitment to wellness. Discussion of issues relating to health, nutrition and exercise permits students to critically analyze their lifestyles and make educated choices for their futures. Yearlong Course Physical Education, 9–12 Semester Electives Cardio Kickboxing Cycling Dance Company/Class Exercise and Nutrition First Aid/CPR Fitness and Conditioning In-Line Skating Indoor Rowing Interscholastic Team Sports Pilates Power Walking Run/Cycle Duathlon Step Aerobics Studio Cycling Urban Fitness Yoga Yogalates Zumba
Building on the knowledge and skills mastered in the Middle School, students explore health on a deeper level and look at the practical application of important theoretical concepts. By utilizing an expanded understanding of the dimensions of health, and by exploring their own personal connections to wellness across all domains, students develop the decision-making skills and critical framework integral to their health and well-being. Semester Courses Upper School Health 9 or 10: Dimensions of Interactional Health
Yearlong Courses Instrumental Lessons, 9–12 Select Choir, 9–12
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UPPER SCHOOL COUNSELING Junior Health Seminar (fall) Sophomore Health Seminar (winter) Senior Transition Seminar (spring) Peer Leadership Program (year)
COLLEGE COUNSELING JUNIOR AND SENIOR SEMINARS Junior College Seminar
This weekly seminar begins in the fall with a discussion of health topics. In January, the focus of the seminar turns to the college process; juniors start to identify their interests and talents and learn how to search for colleges that are a good fit. They will also draft an essay, attend a college fair, discuss interviews and learn about scholarships. In addition to the classes, each junior meets individually with the college counselors at least three times as well as at least one meeting together with her parent(s) to build a list in preparation for college visits, discuss her personal testing plan and identify potential teachers to write recommendations. Senior College Seminar
This weekly seminar meets during the fall term and walks seniors through the college-application process. Topics include writing essays, filling out applications, interviewing, applying for scholarships and financial aid and meeting with college representatives visiting Spence’s campus. In addition, seniors will have unlimited individual meetings with the college counselors, as well as at least one meeting together with their parent(s) early in the fall. LIBRARY PROGRAM
The Spence Library supports the intellectual, personal and creative needs of Spence students by providing a comfortable, attractive space for individual and group research and study. The library also provides a diverse collection of print and online resources that support and extend the School’s curriculum. Library staff actively collaborate with classroom faculty on the development and implementation of research projects and prepare online tutorials and research guides intended to support students as they research independently. Library staff members regularly consult with students one-on-one to provide research guidance.
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By providing access to information in many formats, the library provides a solid research base for the students. In addition, the library works with students to develop successful research skills that encourage intellectual curiosity and a lifelong love of reading. RESOURCE DEPARTMENT
In the Upper School, Learning Specialists collaborate with faculty to support student learning and promote teaching strategies that benefit a range of learning styles. They also offer support sessions for students with documented learning differences, and students who demonstrate a need for additional support, including writing, reading comprehension or the development of executive functioning (organization, time management, planning and execution). Upper School Learning Specialists also teach Academic Workshop, which is offered during Collaborative. This workshop is open to all Upper School students who wish to join and focuses on a specific study strategy or organizational skill each week. The goal of all Resource Department work is to help students better understand their unique learning profiles and learn how to confidently advocate for themselves at Spence and beyond.
PROGRAMS FOR FURTHER STUDY The Interschool Program
The eight schools that make up the Interschool consortium are Brearley, Browning, Chapin, Collegiate, Dalton, Nightingale-Bamford, Spence and Trinity. The Interschool Program sponsors events for Middle and Upper School students in participating schools, including accelerated math classes, choral festivals, poetry readings, theatrical productions, a sophomore retreat and meetings for student leaders. The Interschool Leadership Fellows Program
The Spence-hosted Interschool Leadership Fellows program brings together a select group of juniors who are interested in spending two years exploring leadership and building substantive connections between their schools and the community. Students collaborate with a cohort of talented peers and community leaders as they learn about leadership theory, hone their own leadership skills and develop projects that will serve their community.
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Overseas and Domestic Study Programs
Spence offers domestic and abroad study programs to Upper School students. These programs provide students with a wider range of experience in learning and the opportunity to meet and work with students from other schools. A student may choose to attend one study program in the course of her years at Spence. Programs in the United States
Spence juniors may elect to apply to spend one term at the High Mountain Institute, Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki or The Mountain School. Applications for the programs are available in the winter of sophomore year. In these programs, Grade 11 students from schools all over the country have the opportunity to pursue their studies in a significantly different living and learning environment. Juniors may attend these co-ed programs, compatible with Spenceâ€™s curriculum, in either the fall or spring semester. High Mountain Institute High Mountain Institute, near Leadville, CO, is a semester program that focuses on wilderness education and
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leadership within the context of a traditional junior-year curriculum. Students participate in three wilderness excursions that challenge them to learn about their environment and themselves. Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki The Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki, located on the Chewonki peninsula in Maine, emphasizes a challenging academic program enriched by the experience of farm chores and environmental studies while also staying grounded in its commitment to community-building. The Mountain School The Mountain School (affiliated with Milton Academy) is housed on a 300-acre farm in Vershire, VT. Students are expected to join in the daily farm chores while pursuing academic studies that emphasize environmental consciousness. Programs Abroad
The study abroad program is designed to give students the opportunity to experience another culture and to improve their proficiency in a foreign language. The Modern and Classical Languages Department encourages study abroad
and works with third-party organizations to support students with their academic programs in other countries. School Year Abroad (SYA) School Year Abroad sponsors yearlong programs in China, France, Italy and Spain and is open to students in Grades 11 and 12 who are enrolled in a language at Spence that is taught at the school abroad. Sponsored by a consortium of top independent schools, SYA accepts students from public and private schools across the United States. Exchanges In some years, Spence will engage in exchanges with schools abroad. Spence students travel to the exchange school typically during spring break to experience the culture of a different school and country. In return, families at Spence host students from the exchange school for up to two weeks while Spence is in session. EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Spence is committed to offering students varied opportunities for extracurricular participation. The School believes that participation in extracurricular activities enables students to develop talents that may find little expression in the classroom. Extracurricular activities often require collaboration between students, rendering the process of involvement as important as the finished product. Because Spence is a small school with a cohesive community, many students have the opportunity to assume a leadership position in an organization or club by the time they graduate. In Upper School, students assume the primary responsibility for leadership under the supervision of the Dean of Student Life and Leadership. Club offerings vary from year to year depending on student interest; not all of the activities listed below will be active in a given year. Student Organizations Booster Squad Community Service Debate Club Fingerprints Leadership Through History Mock Trial Model Congress Model United Nations Red Door *spark Spence Multicultural Awareness Coalition (SMAC) Student Council The Voice (the Upper School newspaper)
Triple Trio Upper School Tutors Yearbook Clubs Afro-Latina Alliance at Spence (ALAS) Amnesty International Asian Focus Chess Club Choreography Club Classics Club Current Events Environmental Club eVoice Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Girls Who Code Hospital Outreach Club Jewish Culture Club LETS (Let’s Erase the Stigma) Microfinance Club Nerdina / Young Innovator’s Club Science Bowl Sci-Pi Shakespeare Club Spence Initiatives for Diversity (SID) Spence Supports UNICEF Stock Market Club Spence Women’s Action Network (SWAN) Young Sages More extracurricular activities may be found under Performing Arts.
The Upper School Student Council is composed of two elected representatives and a president from each grade, as well as a club president from the senior class, a vice president from the junior class and a treasurer/secretary. The council meets twice a week, and the president meets weekly with the Dean of Student Life and Leadership. In addition to acting as the liaison between the Upper School student body and the administration, the council sponsors fundraising events and a variety of activities to promote school spirit. OUTREACH AND PUBLIC PURPOSE
The Spence School has an enduring tradition of outreach into the community. In her 1910 Commencement address, Clara Spence said, “We are only parts of the whole, and it is only when the separate self loses itself and the great self is recognized as that for the sake of which we are living in the world, that happiness and service are possible.”
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Now, so many years later, community outreach happens daily through small efforts and large, teaching important lessons about the needs of others and encouraging an awareness of the world outside the School. At Spence, the Director of Outreach and Public Purpose facilitates these efforts with the Service Team by developing and managing K–12 opportunities for community service, primarily in New York City. The K–12 curriculum is anchored by shared understandings, such as “service is a reciprocal relationship” that our students unpack and explore in each division. Through sustaining partnerships through all three divisions with neighbor organizations, our students develop their understanding of how they can impact their community as they grow through our School. Partnerships with local nonprofit organizations, such as our Grade 2 coding camp for girls with Harlem Children’s Zone, allow us to use our resources to mutually benefit those in and outside of our School. When we collaborate with partners, we always end up with a program that is stronger than it would be without the partnership. In the Upper School, students take the lead on their service initiatives. Beginning in Grade 9, our students research issues in NYC and eventually select an organization with which to partner for the next four years. With maturity comes more opportunity for individual service projects through our Step Up Step Out program. Some lasting projects that students have built include an afterschool tutoring program at Harlem Academy and a companionship program for the elderly through DOROT. Rather than community service being a requirement for graduation, Spence students develop an instilled desire to help the world inside and outside of school. Virtually all students participate in some form of community service, and many volunteer their time and skills to more than one cause. Our students know that community outreach is a vital part of their experience. It is woven into the fabric of the School itself; it is simply what we do. UPPER SCHOOL ATHLETICS
The Upper School athletics experience prepares participants for the rigors of league play in the Athletic Association of Independent Schools of NYC (AAIS) and championship competitions through the New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (NYSAISAA). The program cultivates leadership, commitment, competitiveness, time management and personal sacrifice, and it recognizes the unique contributions of each individual.
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Selection to an athletic team and playing time is based upon skill proficiency and the demonstrated ability to implement team strategy. Cuts are made, and sports include a varsity and junior varsity subdivision when possible. All teams are a five-day-a-week commitment. Student-athlete attendance at all preseason and in-season practices, as well as games, is required. ATHLETIC TEAMS
Fall Varsity Cross Country Varsity Field Hockey Varsity Soccer JV Volleyball Varsity Volleyball Winter Fencing (Interschool) JV Basketball Varsity Basketball Varsity Indoor Track Varsity Squash Varsity Swimming Spring Varsity Badminton Varsity Lacrosse Varsity Softball Varsity Tennis Varsity Track and Field
The Captains’ Coalition is a cooperative leadership initiative designed to provide team captains with valuable experience in working together. Throughout the year, students collaborate on community service initiatives as well as leadership modeling and creative problem-solving. All Upper School team captains participate in this program for the entire school year. The coalition’s mission is for the group to share, support and learn from one another through peer mentorship and to develop a spirit of cohesion and achievement. NOTE For additional details on offerings and comprehensive course descriptions, including information on service learning and diversity in the curriculum as well as Interschool collaborative programs, please visit www.spenceschool.org.
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22 East 91st Street New York, NY 10128 212-289-5940 www.spenceschool.org