Academic Program

Lower School


In Lower School, children's curiosity and sense of wonder find 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. As they pursue more information and deeper understanding, students build a steadily growing sense of themselves and the world around them. We have high ambitions for our students 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.

—Elizabeth Causey, Head of Lower School

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  • Student-Led Inquiry

    “What do you know? What do you think? What are you curious about and eager to learn?”

    We leave a lot of room for inquiry and cultivating a sense of wonder. Having student-led questioning is important across math, science, and literacy, just as they’re making sense of it all.
  • Embarking on Adventure

    “She thinks she can do anything in the world.”

    As they pursue more information and deeper understanding, students build a steadily growing sense of themselves and the world around them.
  • Exploring Her World

    “So much space for them to create the school they’re going to, day-by-day."

    The safety of feeling known and appreciated creates magic inside our school. Every student is known and valued for her unique perspectives, questions, and contributions.

Essentials for Deep Understanding

Community of Learning

Being a Spence student means being an essential and celebrated member of a learning community. 
Every individual has important perspectives to share, and each student learns to take responsibility for herself, for her community, and for the learning we all do together.

Explore Our Curriculum

Curriculum Highlights

412 Eco-Residencies

The Brizendine Center for Ecology at 412 offers the fertile space of growing a K–12 interdisciplinary ecology curriculum, inspiring programming that is urban and focused on sustainability.
412 residencies allow us to use time and connection differently because we’ll have these extended periods where kids are going to be thinking into ideas in big ways that are really interconnected across disciplinary areas. That’s a whole new kind of learning that really will foster a different kind of collaborative experience.

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  • Kindergarten - Trash and Treasure

    Students develop an understanding of and how plants grow, working in the greenhouse and the rooftop garden of the Brizendine Center for Ecology.
  • Grade 1 - Food and Community

    Students learn more about food and its relationship to culture. They use the kitchen, greenhouse, and other classroom spaces as we make bread and spreads.
  • Grade 2 - The City as a System

    Students develop a deeper understanding of the systems that move the systems that make New York City run, exploring waste, transportation and food systems.
  • Grade 3 - Indigenous Use of Resources

    Students extend their social science lessons by diving deeply into how three different indigenous communities (Navajo, Sioux, and Cherokee nations) used different plants to take care of themselves, each other, and their environment. They study how each community used corn as a staple of their diet. They made corn cakes, corn bread, and tortillas.
  • Grade 4 - Geography of Human Evolution

    Built upon the Grade 4 social studies curriculum, students also worked with a 3-dimensional model of Morocco’s Draa Valley to make sense of the creation and maintenance of a gravity fed aqueduct, which allowed for the development of a complex farming society. Presented with a hypothetical dilemma in which a storm flooded part of the area and broke the aqueduct, students formed a water council to debate who should fix it. They employed social studies, literacy and social learning skills to engage in this experience.


LS Students


Median Class Size

15 Homerooms

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  • and dedicated learning spaces for Arts, Dance, Science, STEAM, and Music


After-School Second Act Classes
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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