Trustee Statement

We commit to making Spence an inclusive, equitable and multi-identity community in which each student will build intellectual and moral capacity, not only for school but also for life. Spence young women enter the world as excellent scholars and engaged citizens, able to bridge differences and diverse points of view to meet the complex challenges of a changing world. Spence is an environment that embraces differences, honors identity and values full membership and belonging for all.

Guided by our Community Standards, we stand up against exclusion, bias, racism and prejudice in all forms. While deepening our understanding and appreciation of a diverse community, we recognize the ongoing opportunities and the challenges inherent in learning from one another. Together, we find power and joy in working collaboratively to ensure that Spence is a place of ethical stance and substance, a place in which students, parents, faculty and administration cultivate personal integrity in service to the collective values of respect and trust.

Approved December 17, 2019

Highlights of Our Ongoing Work

  • Civil Discourse at Spence: In a powerful partnership, the Upper School Student Council and Upper School Student Equity Council took on the task this year of developing guidelines for civil discourse at Spence. Recognizing that partisan conflict is making respectful conversations harder in our public culture, these student leaders wanted to find language that could help our community have productive and respectful dialogue. They gathered input from students in the Lower School, Middle School and Upper School, as well as from faculty and staff, to produce Talk it Out, ratified by the Equity Committee of the Board and the Head of School in May.

  • Equity In Our Curriculum: Facilitated by the Director of Curriculum and the Director of Institutional Equity, this past year the Academic Leadership teams across three divisions worked to develop a framework to guide curricular innovation. The framework offers teachers a series of questions to foster alignment-focused equity conversations such as “Does this curriculum incorporate both academic and social/emotional skill development with an understanding of identity?” Teachers’ answers will help them provide learning experiences for our students to analyze, problem-solve and create from multiple perspectives.

  • Middle School Identities Project: We will offer the Middle School Identities Project, a new research-based, after-school curriculum to develop community leadership skills in our Middle School students in fall 2022. The goal of the curriculum is to empower and educate students to explore the importance of identities so they can develop skills as thought leaders in a diverse world. 

  • Professional Growth and K-12 Teaching: Under the direction of Director of Teaching and Learning Eric Zahler and Director of Institutional Equity Rebecca Hong, the K-12 teachers have developed a list of research-based equity competencies, including self-awareness, embracing complexity and cultural humility. Our 2022-2023 newly updated professional growth evaluation process will rely on these competencies to support our teachers to focus on making sure all our students belong and thrive in the classroom.

  • The K-12 Bias Response Protocol: The School has been running a pilot test of a step-by-step process to address bias incidents, called the K-12 Bias Response Protocol. Teachers and administrators who are trained in a values-based approach to bias response have resoundingly affirmed the process as highly effective in creating predictability, accountability and learning in our community, and students have named their appreciation of the concrete steps towards harm reduction. Next year the process will be fully operational.


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  • Civil Discourse Statement

    At Spence, we value civil discourse, and believe in building our intellectual and moral capacity not just for school but for life. Civil discourse can be defined as conversations that are concerned with issues that are important for shared or common good. Spence commits to fostering the skills, values and habits required for mutually respectful conversations about issues that matter – conversations wherein students can bridge differences and diverse points of views to learn from one another.

    Understanding that civil discourse requires consistent practice, we aim to create and maintain environments where we are open to sharing. When doing so, we hold the following guidelines:

    • Listen to each other and seek opportunities to learn. Be willing to admit what you don’t know, and be open to changing your opinions. 
    • Respect diversity of opinions and value multiple perspectives. Be mindful of dominant narratives and opinions and seek to uplift other narratives
    • Enter conversations from a place of empathy. Extend grace to each other, knowing that we all are learning. When you can, find common ground.
    • Be comfortable with contention and differences of opinion.  
    Created and ratified by Upper School Student Council and Upper School Equity Council, working with the Upper School Dean of Students Davida Farhat and the Director of Institutional Equity, Rebecca Hong on May 13, 2022

    Approved by Head of School, May 15, 2022

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  • Community Standards

    Understanding that good, strong community can never be accidental, The Spence School asks every member within its fold to meet the high standards necessary for effective citizenship and valued humanity. We are committed to an inclusive and equitable school, and we will continue to marshal our community to stand up against exclusion, bias, racism and prejudice in all forms. Beyond any calculus of rules, Spence strives, always and in all ways, to be a place of ethical stance and substance, a place in which students, parents, faculty and administration cultivate personal integrity in service to the collective values of respect and trust. 
    This we believe for school and for life. This allegiance has at its core a partnership of engagement, education and responsibility, all held in balance for that significant relationship between life and learning. Recognizing that mistakes can sometimes be our most vibrant lessons, we also understand that clear and deliberate expectations go hand-in-hand with meaningful consequences. With trust as our pilot and respect as our goal, Spence thrives and is dependent upon our collective commitment to moral leadership.

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  • What we mean by Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

    Diversity is the representation of all our varied identities and differences (race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, tribe, caste, socio-economic status, thinking and communication styles, etc.), collectively and as individuals. We seek to proactively engage, understand, and draw on a variety of perspectives. We believe that the solution to the problems we hope to address...can be found by affirming our similarities, as well as by finding value in our differences.

    seeks to ensure fair treatment, equality of opportunity, and fairness in access to information and resources for all. We believe this is only possible in an environment built on respect and dignity.

    Inclusion builds a culture of belonging by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all people. We believe every person’s voice adds value, and we strive to create balance in the face of power differences. We believe that no one person can or should be called upon to represent an entire community.

    Source: Ford Foundation

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  • Enrollment Fact Sheet

    Total Students: 774
    Students of color: 46%
    Lower School - 44%
    Middle School - 46%
    Upper School - 49%
    Total Employees: 231
    Full-time - 212 Part-time - 19
    71% Female 29% Male
    43% Employees of color
    Geographic representation of students:
    Manhattan - 668
    Brooklyn - 30
    Queens - 19
    Bronx - 21
    New Jersey - 16
    NY State region - 12
    Long Island - 5
    Connecticut - 2
    Staten Island - 1

    Percent of student body receiving aid: 19.4%
    Number of pre-K schools represented: 34
    Number of MS/US schools represented: 28