Marist Evening Series engages grownups

At Marist School north of Brookhaven, teachers have taken lessons beyond the classroom and, in some cases, put them on their students’ dinner tables.

Through the independent school’s Evening Series, parents can take condensed versions of the classes their kids have during the day.

“For the most part, students’ lives are separated from their parents,” said Brendan Murphy, a history teacher who has been part of the Marist faculty for 25 years. “They might come together through teacher conferences, but they rarely study material together.”

Early in his career, Murphy created a student seminar on the Holocaust that has become a staple of the curriculum. He also found the adults were just as interested in the topic.

“I wanted parents to journey through the history together with their kids,” he said. “So I opened up a mini-adult version that I’ve been doing for about 15 years. And while it’s open to the entire community of Marist and beyond, it typically attracts parents for that reason.”

Murphy has changed the curriculum each year so adults who want to take the course again discover new material. But he usually keeps a field trip to the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Midtown.

That seminar is just one of more than a dozen courses that will be offered as part of the Marist Evening Series beginning in January. The sessions are held for two hours on three Monday evenings and are led by faculty members. Adult learners will find classes centered on the Civil War, the Middle East, poetry, opera, jazz, medicine and Latin America, along with how-to programs on CPR, using a cellphone camera, planning for a child’s college and, for the first time, ceramics.

“The program has grown, especially when we get new teachers with specialties they want to offer,” said Katie Brown, Marist’s alumni engagement director who oversees the series. “It’s been a great opportunity for our parents, alumni and those in the community to learn from our teachers who have great backgrounds about a subject maybe they never had the chance to study before.”

And while most classes are capped at 20, Murphy’s Holocaust seminar has long been the most popular, drawing more than 50 participants, said Brown.

“Students come home and say, ‘We’re taking this awesome class,’ and now there’s a chance for parents to do take it as well,” she said.

That generates a good bit of conversation around the dinner table, said Murphy.

“It’s authentic dialogue, and I find that so important, particularly as it relates to this history,” he said. “I love the idea of my students having that conversation with their parents because the perspective the parents bring is very different and, often times, more emotional.”

Registration for the January Evening Series begins Dec. 6. Tuition is $95.

Information is online at


Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at or 770-744-3042.