• U.S.

Education: Spence’s Fifth

2 minute read

When Mrs. Winthrop W. Aldrich and Mrs. Roland Harriman were in pigtails the Manhattan citadel of female educational snobbishness which their respective parents favored was Miss Spence’s School. For 30 years Clara B. Spence put her cloistered young ladies through the drawing room, taught them enough “current events” to provide conversation at their debuts, took them to Central Park to study birds and trees.

The Founder died in 1923. Spence School, endowed and incorporated, now occupies a nine-story uptown building, where its 26 boarders pay up to $2,200 to live & learn. The 174 day pupils arrive in limousines or in the school bus which shuttles swankly up & down Park Avenue. In the tight little world of metropolitan finishing schools, Spence has had its troubles. By 1932 it was undeniably losing ground to such rivals as Brearley, Chapin, Miss Hewitt’s, Nightingale-Bamford. In alarm the trustees merged it with small Miss Chandor’s School, under Valentine Laura Chandor. By the time Headmistress Chandor died last autumn Spence was again heading up. To carry on the good work the trustees last week picked as her successor and the school’s fifth headmistress Miss Dorothy Brockway. Pretty, young (37), brunette Dorothy Brockway, graduate of swankless Barnard College, has for the past eight years been assistant supervisor at Miss Hewitt’s classes. Practical Miss Brockway’s pet policy is emphasizing citizenship, showing her pupils how the other 99% live. To this end she has made a practice of taking them to places which would have shocked aristocratic Miss Spence into calling for smelling salts: Ellis Island, the Stock Exchange, the Children’s Court, Fulton Fish Market.

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