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Back to School

Alumnae returned to Spence for their favorite classes and teachers.
“This will be one of the few chances I get to teach a class with a glass of wine,” Mathematics teacher Justin Iwerks announced to his students for the evening: Spence alumnae ranging from the Class of 1952 to 2010.

Iwerks began his Introduction to Graph Theory with three real-life problems—including, uncovering the shortest route from point A and point B on a drawing, or in other words, figuring out how Google Maps optimizes directions between two locations.

“I’m excited to learn math again through the eyes of an adult Spence student as well as a math graduate student and a math teacher,” said Dana Kugelman Feigenbaum ’98, who also had the opportunity to catch up with fellow alumnae both before and after the class over cocktails in the Atrium.

Throughout the hour-long session, alumnae studied ways dots and lines provide a mathematical structure for modeling some of the most compelling problems of the 21st century.

At the same time, another group of graduates in a seminar room on the first floor of the Townhouse joined Head of School Bodie Brizendine in an exploration of the multidimensional world of Shakespearean sonnets, “loosening their scholastic voices and making poetic meaning together.”

And just above, sitting around another wooden Harkness table, Head of Upper School Michèle Krauthamer and Head of the English Department Mary Frosch led nearly 20 alumnae in a discussion of race in America. Their class, Literature of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States: Processing the Headlines, touched on contemporary crises including the Ferguson, Missouri, case and the recent New York Times review of Shonda Rimes’ new show that references “angry black women.”

“I enjoy coming to Spence for Back to School night because I’m reminded of the School’s incredible passion for learning, not just as a student, but for life,” shared Elena Droutzkoy Corso ’68, before adding “Bodie is so much fun to learn with.”

But the new annual tradition at Spence, now in its second year, not only delighted and informed graduates, but also the teachers who led these classes. For Krauthamer, reconnecting with former students remains a highlight, always, and classroom conversations from the evening provided unique insights for her current course with Spence Upper School students.