About Spence

Long Range Plan

Teaching & Learning at Spence 2025: "An Intellectual & Moral Adventure"

Our School

From its founding to its current life, our School has championed the spirit of learning in a community of openness, virtue, warmth and joy. Built upon the foundations of intellectual inquiry and engagement, all constituencies of our community work in partnership toward furthering the enormous promise of every girl and every young woman in our fold. For Spence, learning is a behavior and not a means to an end.  
The Spence of 2015 finds itself in a fortunate place: a recently successful capital campaign, increased endowment, new or renovated facilities, and a successfully implemented former Long Range Plan. With this new Long Range Plan, we turn our collective attention to teaching and learning.
Our title, inspired by the language of Clara Spence, speaks to an exciting, strategic direction. What will the Class of 2025 need to move from our Red Doors and into the world as scholars, learners and leading citizens of the world? How can we continue to honor Miss Spence’s stated purposes about learning at Spence as “an intellectual and moral adventure?” 

Central to this adventure is our profound commitment to educating girls and young women. Our abiding focus on identity, voice and confidence allows our young scholars to meet the complex challenges of today and to frame the ones of tomorrow. 
Since 1892, our dedication to a rigorous, liberal arts education has shaped our work. Liberal arts, often misunderstood in today’s world to include humanities only, lives for us in its original interpretation: a rich course of study free from any utilitarian goals and inclusive of all disciplines. Essential to our enterprise is the understanding that meaningful and nuanced perspectives and multiple points of view fuel academic excellence: neither the world nor our School is single or static. Our community’s strength and our mission of “lifelong transformation of self and the world” are predicated on equity of voice in regard to race, gender, ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic diversity and on the belief that a privileged education such as ours requires an active commitment to our larger community. 

Our Questions

Essential questions frame the complex, dynamic and exciting shifts in today’s education. In imagining what we could do in the well-resourced and stimulating world of Spence, these questions speak to deepening academic excellence and to honoring the multiplicity and nuances in teaching and learning. Far from prescriptive, this plan serves as a provocative starting point from which possibilities can be explored and developed. This plan is both an invitation and a challenge to us all.
How can we design learning and curriculum that combine knowledge with skills necessary to lead transformational lives in a quickly changing world?
How can we design professional development to further innovation and pedagogy in the classroom?
How can we advance collaborative learning and intellectual risk-taking?
How will we continue to foster intellectual discernment and develop as educators in a world of complex and voluminous information and knowledge?
How can we better understand the power and the limitations of different assessments?
How do we preserve our commitment to heart and mind in a world that increasingly demands more of our students?


“Dramatic development in technology and research aimed at understanding how people learn are radically changing the practice of teaching, offering instructors new and exciting ways to engage with students.”
– President Drew Faust, Harvard Magazine (October 18, 2011), “A Landmark Gift for Learning”
Educational practice in today’s world is exciting and challenging. Our students have access to overwhelming amounts of information. Increasingly, we are learning more about cognitive capacities and how learning works best. The call for us to be stewards of our planet grows louder, and citizenship, always at the heart of what we do, now extends far beyond any single boundary both geographically and metaphorically. We know the world in which our students will walk will demand an understanding of multiple perspectives and that plurality will be the norm. How can we adapt our learning to meet these needs while ensuring excellence and our commitment to a strong liberal arts education? 

In the coming years, we will:

  • Continue to harness the power inherent in an all-girls education.
  • Purposefully expand our connections outside of Spence, taking full advantage of the NYC community and beyond.
  • Develop the rich partnerships between technology and learning while furthering good digital citizenship and direct human contact.
  • Foster learning across and within departments, disciplines and divisions.
  • Broaden assessment methodologies, drawing upon metacognitive understandings and student-directed learning.
  • Explore the teaching calendar and day to consider learning in different ways and at different times.
  • Find more ways to couple knowledge acquisition with intellectual risk-taking.
  • Affirm our commitment to health and wellness, essential for learning.
  • Further social justice and academic excellence by strengthening multiple perspectives and equity of voice in regard to race, gender and socioeconomic diversity.
  • Further our studies in sustainability and deepen our collective responsibilities toward our planet.
  • Expand a deeper awareness of and commitment to civic understanding, responsibility and ethical values within and outside our doors.
  • Broaden and promote aspirational leadership among our students.
  • Promote creativity and innovation in learning.


“Teaching is the factor that will actually make a difference among both the students and the community as a whole.”
– Natalie Berger ’15, student member of the Long Range Planning Committee
Teachers and their passion for the classroom represent Spence’s greatest and most significant asset. While continuously developing the skills of any faculty is essential, strengthening and re-envisioning professional development will be critical for ongoing excellence. The development of faculty cannot be seen as episodic; rather, it needs to be lifelong and sustained. Our faculty—remarkable, committed and accomplished—have a deep and abiding commitment to their growth as professionals. Investing both time and resources in this endeavor is critical.

In the coming years, we will:

  • Further professional innovation in line with current and cognitive research about learning.
  • Increase professional development opportunities for understanding forms of assessment spanning individual and collaborative academic performances.
  • Develop faculty agency for environmental studies.
  • Continue our professional development to further equity of student voice and contributions in our classrooms and in our hallways.
  • Develop and find opportunities of real time and place for faculty to pursue collaborative, on-site, research-based and sustained professional development.
  • Continue to capitalize on the values of teaching and learning in an all-girls school.
  • Build incentives that acknowledge and promote taking risks and designing innovative teaching practices.
  • Strengthen ongoing efforts to diversify our faculty.


“A strategic plan without resources is but a dream.”
– Spence Long Range Planning Committee, 2015
With a history of wonderful support from parents, alumnae, faculty and friends, combined with progressive goals yet conservative stewardship of our financial resources, Spence has successfully upheld both its operations and strategic goals. This balance will continue to be central in our financial planning as we invest in strategic priorities while maintaining fiscal discipline and focus on sustainable financial strength, recognizing what are ultimately limited resources. 

In the coming years, we will:

  • Prioritize the growth and strength of the endowment as a critical element of support beyond tuition fees.
  • Provide the salary, benefits and professional development that promote excellence at Spence.
  • Identify dedicated resources for auxiliary programs beyond tuition.
  • Recognize, address and manage the ever-growing expenses beyond the School’s direct control, such as health-care premiums and energy costs.
  • Plan for the capital required to maintain and further develop teaching and learning at Spence.

In Closing

This Long Range Plan, moving beyond response and into inspirational advancement, names priorities that enhance our promise of excellence. We are excited to further our deep commitment to teaching and learning at Spence. Join us with your enthusiastic support as we step into our institutional future.

Imagine this:

  • A school that promotes the education of girls and young women nationally and globally.
  • A school in which faculty experience on-site and significant professional development throughout their career.
  • A school in which students can articulate and understand how they learn as well as what they have learned.
  • A school known as a lab for teacher learning and for extraordinary professional development.
  • A school that has broadened possibilities of where and when learning can take place.
  • A school that designs for interdisciplinary understanding, problem-based learning and deep student-agency.
  • A school in which diversity is not an initiative, a number nor a representation but rather an everyday experience of wide perspectives, full voice and life-shaping differences.
The Spence Long Range Plan, Teaching & Learning at Spence 2025: “An Intellectual & Moral Adventure,” was approved by the Board of Trustees in December 2015. We thank the members of the Long Range Planning Committee, composed of trustees, parents, alumnae, faculty, administrators and students. Their collective, insightful and substantive input has shaped a plan that we know will serve as a powerful, strategic guide to the School in the coming years.

Long Range Planning Committee Members:

Julie Abbruscato
P’18, English Teacher

Natalie Berger

Bodie Brizendine
Head of School

Doug Brophy
Academic Dean

David Carmel

Elizabeth Causey
Head of Lower School
Anand Desai
P’25, Trustee

Aletha Haynes
Grade 1 Teacher

Carrie Hinrichs
P’24, Director of Advancement

Nancy Doe Hopkins

Bill Jacob
P’19, P’21, P’26, President of the Board of Trustees

Adam Klein
P’20, Trustee
Rhonda Mims

Michele Murphy
Director of Academic Programs

Anya Herz Shiva
’88, P’28, Trustee

Ida Thomas

Elyse Waterhouse
Director of Finance and Operations

Ravi Yadav
P’18, P’20, P’24, Trustee

Eric Zahler
Head of the Mathematics Department
A K-12 independent school in New York city, The Spence School prepares a diverse community of girls and young women for the demands of academic excellence and responsible citizenship.


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