by David Sturdevant
In my last column, I talked about trustees of LIncoln Academy and provided some information about their terms, history, and board committees. The board of an independent school has several major responsibilities. Boards are charged with being the guardian of the school’s mission, and they are stewards of the school’s resources, ensuring the preservation of capital assets and endowment. They must also establish and maintain bylaws that conform to legal requirements. Boards must maintain accurate records of meetings and policies and ensure that all their members are actively engaged in board work.
Another primary responsibility of the board is to select, hire, evaluate, and establish the compensation of the school head. While the board works closely with the head of school, its primary focus is working on long range and strategic issues — not the daily issues of the school.
The board’s only employee is the head of school. All other employees of the school work for the head.
In his address at the centennial celebration in 1901, Principal George Larrabee said of the Heads of School, that “they have all had a part in the good work of our beloved Academy, and had they not as a class been men of high ideals and careful scholarship, the work of the school must have correspondingly suffered.”
Since the Academy’s founding the titles have changed. The Academy’s first heads of school were known as Preceptors, followed by Principals, and then Headmasters. The modern title is Head of School. Since Preceptor Haskell, who served from 1805-1807, there have been 40 Heads of School at Lincoln Academy. Until the early 1900’s most principals served one to three years, with a couple serving seven or eight. The exceptions were Granville Thurlow, who served from 1863 – 1880, and George Larrabee, who served from 1895 – 1908. Henry White served 12 years over two separate tenures.
In a letter dated November 15, 1848, G. Snow Newcomb writes in reply to a Lincoln Academy trustee, that “I will take charge of your Academy for one year for a Salary of Five Hundred and Fifty Dollars on condition it be raised to Six Hundred and Fifty for a second year if satisfaction shall have been given during the first.” This arrangement must have been satisfactory, as Mr. Newcomb served as Principal for five years.
In 1919, Robert Clunie became Principal, and he served until 1942. Nelson Bailey served from 1942 -1967. Arthur Dexter served from 1967-1984. James Ackerman served a couple years, followed by Garrett Bensen, who, selected from the LA faculty, served as interim head until Chris Frost came in 1987 and served until 1994. Howie Ryder served from 1994 until 2006. Jay Pinkerton served from 2006 – 2013, and I arrived in the summer of 2013. Of the 41 Heads of School, nine of them have served in the last 100 years.
I continue to cite the “Lincoln Academy, A History 1801-2001” and the NAIS Trustee Handbook.
Thanks to those of you who joined me for breakfast last week, and to those who attended our second annual Town Hall event on Wednesday. As always, should you have questions about Lincoln Academy, please feel free to make an appointment to meet with me. You may contact Carole Brinkler, Assistant to the Head of School at 207-563-3596, ext.102