Learning for Life

Learning for Life: St. Mary's Community Courses

Our new St. Mary’s Community Courses offer educational opportunities for adults to learn something new or discover a hidden passion. Courses will cover a variety of topics and be led by alumnae, faculty, staff, and local professionals. From mahjong to calligraphy, there's something for everyone! Registration opens December 15.


Spilling Ink: Celebrating Your Inner Poet
Poetry isn’t just line breaks and anaphora. It’s the sunset and smells that trigger good memories. Poetry is all around us, and it’s inside of us too. Whether you’ve written poetry before and are battling the publishing beast or you have the most basic knowledge, there is always a place for you in the school of modern poetics. Poetry comes to those who are willing to learn. In this generative space, you will learn to let the world influence you to create poetry you can be proud of. Let out the poet inside and have fun on the page; there is beauty even in the attempt.
Instructor: Sabrina Spence ’18
Schedule: Tuesdays, January 10 & 17
Time: 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: AWC, Faculty Dining Room Virtual Link Available
Cost: $50  

Book Talk: "Surprised by Imperfection: Essays and Stories on Wonder"
In her new book, Mrs. Ray considers the sacredness of the small moments in life. With humor and an inordinate love for every day, she connects readers to the glories of the natural world through a return to close observation.
From Ms. Ray: I come from a family of storytellers, people who love an audience. Years ago, I lived for a while in Belgium where I learned to speak Dutch. And while I––with some impatience––for my new practiced Flemish words to percolate and begin to flow with minimal effort from my mouth, I began to write my stories down, to see if I could write a story with as much joy as I could tell one. I never looked back. I started collecting up all my stories, gathering them into piles like autumn leaves and filing them away under titles like Family and Europe and Spring and Little Hand and Stars. The more I wrote, the more I found to say, and slowly, very slowly, a book began to take form. I wondered what held the stories together, what glue bound a story about my three-fingered hand to a story about my brother’s rock tumbler, and I realized I was writing about imperfection. Imperfect people and their stories surround us on all sides and yet we often are surprised by this fact. Writing down stories of flawed beauty re-opened my eyes to the loveliness in the dappled and imperfect aspects of the vast world, the sanctity of the ordinary in all its seasons, and the grand sense of wonder and awe.
Author: Shari Ray, St. Mary's English Department Chair
Schedule: Thursday, January 19
Time: 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Morrow Room Virtual Link Available
Cost: $15

A Remarkable Journey…….Discovered
The story of St. Mary’s is a story of forward thinking founders and leaders who, through their vision, perseverance, and resiliency, were able to establish and maintain the oldest continually operating private school in Memphis and the state of Tennessee through wars, epidemics, and social changes, while creating an educational environment for girls that not only offers an excellent preparation for college, but also for life.
In 1998, Mary M. Davis, a St. Mary’s icon who served as the Head of the Upper School and the Interim Head of School, published the history of St. Mary’s in a book entitled A Remarkable Journey. In these three classes, the remarkable beginnings of St. Mary’s will be discovered, along with her amazing journey to become one of the top schools in Tennessee and beyond. The history of St. Mary’s is deeply intertwined with the history of the city of Memphis. The connection of St. Mary’s to her city will also be investigated as we move through the early years of St. Mary’s history from 1847 – 1981, the beginning through the establishment of Moss Hall.
Instructor: Dr. Patti Person Ray ’65, St. Mary’s School Historian and Former Upper School Head
Schedule: Tuesdays, January 24 & 31 and February 7
Time: 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: AWC, Faculty Dining Room Virtual Link Available
Cost: $75 

Mahjong for Beginners
Crak! Bam! Dot! Learn the game that everyone is playing! In this series of Beginner Mah Jong classes you will gain a basic understanding of the game’s fundamental components, rules, and playing strategy. Classes will focus on learning the tiles, understanding the card, making hands, learning the American rules, strategies, and sequence of play. 
Instructor: Sally Rosenberg ’80
Schedule: Sundays, January 29 and February 5 &12
Time: 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $75 

Calligraphy is decorative handwriting using a dip pen. Both cursive and other hands let you create lovely notes, invitations, headings, and addresses on ordinary communications. You’ll learn: a brief background of different alphabets, the pens and papers that work best, how to use and hold pens, how to practice and layout spacing and text, and fun ways to use your calligraphy. Students will need to purchase supplies. A list will be sent once registration is complete.
Instructor: Nancy Prillaman
Schedule: Tuesdays, February 14, 21, 28
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. 
Cost: $75 plus supplies