June 4, 2020

Graduation 2020

I entered this week squarely focused on the celebrations we have planned for our Class of 2020, but on this morning, as I have found for the last several mornings, I am distracted; caught between two worlds. This one here in Newcastle, Maine trying to focus on the end of school, navigating our community through a global pandemic, and the one we see played out on the screens of the devices in our hands: the unrest, rioting and destruction in response to inequity and injustice that boiled to the surface after the horrific killing of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbury, to name just two. I have been angry, confused, and sad, profoundly sad, that we as a nation have so far to go to realize the ideals that our constitution defines for us: that all people are in fact created equal.

As has been true for me many times in this first year, I find myself looking for leadership, for calm in the face of chaos. Some of that is getting used to my new role as Head of School, and perhaps some of that is an artifact of growing up in a relatively calm and peaceful period of history. Each time my search has pointed me back here, to this community and the people around me. On Monday the show of support lined our main street, with 250 strong taking a knee. While we are worlds away from Minneapolis or Chicago, Louisville or Washington DC, we too must come to terms with facing the work that is necessary to stop the cleaving of our country and fuse our pieces back together through meaningful systemic change. Once again, I find that I do not have the answers, but I know that as a community our collective consciousness will find ways to support those that need it the most. We as educators will discover new tools to educate students in how they as citizens must engage in the American democracy that our country so desperately needs.

This week we will celebrate our young people, who are certainly graduating in a memorable and chaotic time. Through the conferring of diplomas we will show our confidence in their potential. The Class of 2020 represents the best of what we offer as a school community, and I know they will do great things no matter their path.

As we examine the work ahead of us as teachers, I hope that we will find the courage to be examples for our students and ourselves. I believe that in the challenge of uncertainty lies opportunity to make a difference. I have a great deal of faith in this community and feel blessed to call this my home.

Be well and stay safe. Let us know if we can help in any way.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

May 28, 2020

Zooming in a pandemic

I am certain I am not alone in spending most of my work day in Zoom calls. These calls have advantages over the now-outdated conference calls that filled my days as a project manager at IBM, but there are aspects I really don’t like. While I enjoy seeing teachers and administrators faces, I don’t like watching mine when I talk. And I really miss seeing my colleagues and friends in 3D! But all of this zooming has also brought to mind the original Zoom of my childhood.

For the uninitiated, Zoom was the PBS children’s show that ran in the 70s. Other than some of the very memorable catch phrases, like “send it to Zoom,” what I remember is  the kids. They seemed quirky, cool, diverse, and so confident to a boy growing up in rural Vermont. They created cool projects on the program, and they always read letters from other kids on the air. What I realize now is that the entire program was just kids doing fun stuff they thought other kids would enjoy. These moments of self-initiated learning are at the core of how we as teachers strive to empower our students. The recognition of this ability is one of the hallmarks of becoming an adult; it is how most of us continue learning long after leaving school.

I have seen and heard about many moments of this kind of learning in our student body. Some have involved learning a new skill to move a passion or interest forward. Some have involved diving deeper to apply existing skills to a bigger project. Some seem to come from students adapting to the circumstances around them, being resilient in the face of difficulty, and meeting expectations that came with accepting that things had changed. Our students are learning that they too can get through this time in history.

As I begin the process of reflection with faculty and students, I am buoyed by the knowledge that our students do remarkable things each and every day. That they can overcome obstacles, and that through their reflections we will learn how to help them find their paths in life.

Thanks for your support and patience as we make our way through this tumultuous time together. I look forward to celebrating our seniors next week, and can’t wait to see how they will take the lessons they have learned here out into the world in the years to come.

Please be in touch if there is anything that we can do for you or your student.

Be well and stay safe.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

May 22, 2020

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I want to take a moment to remember those in our LA community who have served and are serving in our armed services.  Lincoln alums, faculty, and staff have honored our country with their service, and we should take a moment to remember them this weekend.

I am an “army brat” of sorts: my brother and I were both born in Stuttgart Germany when my father was stationed there in the mid 1960s. I spent a portion of most summer vacations at campgrounds in Pennsylvania and Virginia, as our family would follow my father to summer camp as part of Army Reserves service. My mom, a public school librarian, took us to almost every Civil War battlefield. These experiences give me a deep appreciation for the sacrifices of our service members.

There were certainly moments in early March where the thought of reaching Memorial Day weekend seemed very far away. Sitting here on this May afternoon, it is clear to me that our efforts as a school community have more than met the challenge set before us in March. We will take time to process our lessons learned and come back in the fall better prepared to deliver more fully upon our mission.

There is work to do to understand how we can adapt what we learned this spring and create the best possible model for Lincoln Academy. We learned that making a Zoom call available to parents can increase attendance in our LAPA meetings, and we have also learned that some students have found success in being able to move through material at their own pace. I look forward to gaining more insights into student and parent experiences and hope to include as much input into our planning for the fall as we can. I will certainly provide updates on our thinking before we head into summer break.

We are entering the final academic push, and I want to urge all of our students to finish strong: it is never too late to do your best. I know I speak for all of our teachers in saying that we will help in any way we can–just reach out. We are all looking forward to the results of your final assessment, as it will serve as a record for us all of the shared experience of “flattening the curve” for our greater society.

Please be in touch if you need help or have questions. I look forward to finishing up our school work, celebrating the class of 2020. and helping to put closure on an unforgettable school year.

Stay safe and be well.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

May 14, 2020

“The Question Concerning Reactionary Modernism; applying Herf’s theory to Heidegger’s late work.”

As I mentioned in this message two weeks ago, my son Andrew has completed his college work and earned an honors degree in political science and philosophy. He elected to write a thesis for his major and recently he encouraged me to read it. I did read it, and while that fact was something in itself, our conversation afterwards has led me to think more deeply about the essential elements of effective education and offered insight into our work ahead at Lincoln Academy.

Endeavoring to read–and understand–post-modern German philosophy is new to me,  and as I struggled with the vocabulary and key concepts in the 26-page paper, I was reminded what it feels like to learn something new. In the ensuing conversation, Andrew played a patient waiting game, eager to demonstrate his knowledge while helping craft my understanding into order and alignment with the thesis of his work. As we talked, shared understanding, and formed connections, it was the conversation, the shared  discourse that mattered most to both of us.

If we examine what we most want for our students, beyond the concepts and content it is that they can have these conversations, they can find confidence in their understanding of a subject to carry on a dialogue like a historian or a writer, a mathematician or a scientist. That they can ask thoughtful questions of a lobsterman, mechanic, researcher, or health provider.

One aspect of this forced move to virtual learning is considering what a classroom truly is. The ongoing project of collecting “Quarantine Work and Learning,” is one effort to  recognize and even redefine where learning truly takes place. There is no doubt that we all miss the “magic” that happens inside the walls of our red brick buildings, but learning and the application of knowledge occurs and thrives outside the traditional physical definition of school. For us at Lincoln Academy, our next challenge is to implement what we have learned over these past two months and apply it as we build our offerings for next fall and beyond. I believe our teachers have powerful insights into student  successes and struggles, and I have no doubt they will help to lead us toward solutions that will help all students build confidence as life-long learners.

We are nearing the end of one of the 3rd trimester, and with it will come opportunities to reflect and recharge. I am grateful for your patience, support and belief in our Lincoln Academy community. Please be in touch if we can do anything for you.

Stay safe and be well.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

May 7, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

I started my week with an email from a member of the class of 2023. It was the kind of email that all teachers love to receive: it was totally unexpected, well written, and very thoughtful. It is often the comments that come out of the blue that hold the most power for me, because they serve as a reminder that I never truly know where my efforts make an impact. As educators, we take the time to be prepared, to be present, to connect with students every day, but we don’t always know the impact of these efforts. We all know the feeling of a great lesson, or one that misses the mark; we all recognize that sparkle or look of confusion in students’ eyes, but we don’t know what difference we make over time. This keeps us humble and grounded, and makes an email like the one I received a wonderful surprise.

I know that right now many of our teachers are struggling with the uncertainty of this new educational model, and how their efforts to teach remotely are working for students. One thing I appreciate about all of them is that through the challenges of rapidly retooling under stressful conditions, they continue to bring their best selves to teaching: reaching out to students every day and finding new ways to connect. I know their efforts are making an important difference in the lives of our students in this difficult time.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I had a chance to express my thanks to the faculty and staff in our weekly faculty meeting, but I know from experience that hearing from you truly matters. If there is a teacher that has made a difference to you, now would be an excellent time to reach out and let them know.

 Be well, stay safe, and please let us know if we can help in any way.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

April 30, 2020

Message from the Head of School

The End Crowns the Work… Even for the Class 2020

My son Andrew handed in his final college paper over our April “staycation.” Just like that, he was done with college: four years gone in the blink of an eye. Like so many parents of seniors in 2020, I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was of his accomplishments. I really meant it: I am proud, and more importantly I know he is proud of his college career. Still, I have to stop myself from wanting a different ending to college for him, a chance to celebrate with friends and teammates, to find the tie and coat, head to obligatory commencement activities, and process what it means to savor this chapter in his own way on the campus he grew to love. I have to stop myself, because no matter how much my heart aches for him, his classmates and all of the seniors here at Lincoln Academy are sharing the same experience: they are finishing their school experiences in a different world than they started in. I have to stop myself because as our motto reminds us, the end crowns the work.

For me, the “end” in our motto does not refer to a ceremony or a celebration, it is realization of how the work has shaped the direction of your life; has brought into focus what is most important. This clarity of purpose becomes the crown; it is what the work tells my son about his convictions and talents. Perhaps my desire for a more normal end of his career, a graduation with pomp and circumstance, shows that what I really want is for things to be normal, the way they have always been.

And as I watch him move about the house this week, play catch and cook dinner with his brother and sister, and begin looking for his next step, I see what I am certain many of you see in your children, spouses, partners and family members. I see resilience. There is something about this moment: we have embraced humanity in a way that is empowering and leveling. Perhaps the fact that we are all struggling right now has allowed us to see our own strengths, find our own resilience, judge ourselves less harshly against our peers.

The Lincoln Academy faculty and staff helped bring our seniors to the place where they can start to see how the end crowns their work. All of us are struggling to find a way to honor this accomplishment authentically, practically and safely. One thing I know for certain is that this celebration will be different for this group of seniors than for any other in the school’s 219-year history. We have a good team working on the best options to honor the graduates and help them close out their time with us at Lincoln. I remain confident in our students and their resilience, and I am grateful for the chance to share this moment with them.

We know that families are also seeking ways to honor and celebrate students right now. If we can help in any way, do not hesitate to reach out.

Be well and stay safe.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

April 17, 2020

Message from the Head of School

On Connection

I saw Liam today. It made me smile. He was just taking a drive in his pickup truck, his hat on backwards as usual, and when he saw me we chatted about his family and mine. Liam was one of the first students I got to know at Lincoln. While our first interaction ended with something like, ”I don’t think so man,” there is one thing I have grown to appreciate about Liam and our relationship: he knows how to connect.

Connection is what I miss most right now. Seeing the glimmer in Liam’s eye from my safe 6-foot distance reminded me how much I miss those moments with students, how much a simple expression provides an incredible amount of information and comfort in a nanosecond. This is the hardest part of teaching right now. I’ve never met a successful teacher who doesn’t love teenagers. They may pull their hair out, lose sleep, and get eternally frustrated, but people who thrive in education love the energy–in all forms–that comes from connecting with students.

Teaching is more Art than Science. Even for me, an electrical engineer by training, there is a state between 1 and 0, between on and off, the gray between black and white that makes all the difference in teaching and learning. This is where connection matters. Watching a master teacher weave this into a lesson is a beautiful thing to behold. As I head into the April “staycation” next week, I know I need to improve my teaching in this new medium for the next 4-week push. I know I need to hear the feedback from students and parents and try to find a way to restore that connection, even from a distance.

There is still so much that we don’t know at this point, about how our efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve will affect this generation of students and teachers–will affect all of us, for that matter. At Lincoln Academy we do know that we will finish structured virtual classes by Memorial Day, and that we are amending our methods as we learn more about what works and what doesn’t.

Einstein once said, “a person first starts to live when he can live outside of himself.” In these challenging moments I have found certainty that every day is a new day to contribute to and participate in a community–even when that participation is mostly virtual. I hope you all find time over this break to re-energize and reconnect, and that you will find courage in each new morning to bring your best to the day and those around you.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

April 9, 2020

Message from the Head of School

Fishing and Reflection

Driving up route 131 on my way to Union and Searsmont I was struck by the beauty of the rolling hills in this part of Maine. I was heading out to fly fish on the St. George River with a mix of nerves and excitement. I stepped out from the well-worn routine of my life over the past three weeks after Governor Mills–apparently an avid angler herself–listed fishing as an acceptable activity. I arrived at the pullout, suited up, and found a piece of water to fish.

There is something about fly fishing: the rush of the water, the constant mending to get the drift right in the current, and of course having the line go tight then landing a fish. It all happened for me on Sunday, and after a couple of hours in some very cold water, I got into the car to drive back to Borland Hall. 

This week we have learned that we will not have a sports season this spring and that we will continue remote learning through Memorial Day. School, a place intended to play an integral role in how students grow up, feels to some like it has been reduced to just homework. As I reflect on my time on the river this weekend, that simple act of normalcy, I realized how much we have all sacrificed through this isolating yet strangely bonding act of social distancing in effort to flatten the curve. I can only imagine how difficult it is for students, parents, faculty and staff to have so many human interactions replaced by the screen of their phone or computer.

Today I want you all to know how proud I am of each of you. How thankful I am for the effort you are putting into your courses, no matter how large or small. How much I appreciate what you are living through and the burdens you are carrying at a moment when all of us are a bit uncomfortable most of the time.

I, too, long to return to LA: the halls, my Algebra II classroom, speaking from the floor of the gym. For now, those thoughts keep me moving forward, continually mending my doubts toward optimism and waiting for that moment when I see you all in person once again.

Please know all of us here at Lincoln Academy want to help any way we can. No ask is too small: we are committed to making the best of this situation and helping our school community. Please reach out to your teachers, to me, or to Ms. Brinkler if you need help or you know someone who does.

We will get through this and we will be stronger for it. Be well and stay safe.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

April 2, 2020

Message from the Head of School

I’ve been working through my stack of bedside reading,and am currently in the middle of two books: Kristin Lavransdatter by Nobel Prize winning author Sigrid Undset and Erik Larson’s new book The Splendid and the Vile. They are an unlikely pairing, one about a woman in 14th century Scandinavia and the other about Churchill’s leadership during his early years as Prime Minister as England faced the inevitable German invasion. Both characters grow through hardship and crisis not of their making, and both seek to find personal strength from their families, faith, and routines.

Reading these novels in quiet moments–mostly when the house is not buzzing with 20-something energies, and when the dogs have settled into their spots–offers a chance to reflect on the personal, familial, and professional challenges of leadership. Being engrossed in the lives of these two characters as they face adversity offers a reminder of the importance of courage and optimism. Until now I think I have under appreciated moments of courage in our community. These include students’ embracing the new challenges of learning remotely, teachers’ adapting their expertise to totally new ways of delivering material, staff members’ making our campus safe, serving families in need, and perhaps most importantly, connecting with parents and guardians who are dealing with real challenges as they navigate uncharted waters with families and loved ones. Thanks to all of you so very much for what you have brought to our community in this time of uncertainty.

As we close our second week of remote learning there is so much to celebrate, and I am excited to see elements of our school community continue to develop. Tomorrow we will post a Virtual Community Meeting on our Instagram story, and while I’m a novice on many social media platforms, I’m excited to know that our students and faculty will have a new way to keep some of our traditions alive.

This newsletter contains updates about virtual learning, food delivery, and more news. Parent and student feedback in recent weeks has helped us improve our communication and offerings to students. Please continue to keep in touch. I know I miss seeing all of you in person each day, but we will do our best to keep the spirit of the LA community alive and well in these challenging times.


Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

March 27, 2020

Message from the Head of School

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”  –-Victor Borge

The laughter coming from the living room here at Borland hall helped me find my way to this message. Having recently filled our empty nest with our three 20-something children, my wife Melissa and I have both remarked at how much joy we have found in the sounds of laughter.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the distance between us, between our faculty and our students, our peers and their loved ones and the wider community that is the midcoast region of Maine. Our physical distance-that principle underlying social distancing-seems at times much greater than it should be. Digital connections are now our only connections, and they do provide some comfort, reminding my generation of a time before email and cell phones; a time where, when we could not connect face to face, we relied on written words and an occasional collect or long distance call to express love and support.

 Many generations have found community and connection in a far less connected world than we occupy now. In these first two weeks I have seen myriad examples of communication: spontaneous ukulele jams on the couch, Zoom sessions with extended family, letters, emails and texts of support and gratitude have woven a new fabric of support that wraps around my family, friends, colleagues, and me.

 Our first full week of remote learning is nearly done. Thanks to our faculty, staff, students, and parents for the investment, patience and constructive comments and questions. We are doing all we can to get students connected and engaged in learning activities. We all need to remember that this transition to a new mode of education happened over the course of just a few days, and forgive ourselves and each other as we sort through the inevitable hiccups and updates. As I have seen my cousins and siblings work with their children at home, I thought a few reminders would be helpful:

  1. Assume good will and good intent.
    • LA faculty and staff have an incredible can-do attitude and they are doing all they can to make things better. Many of them are also parents with children at home so have dual roles.
  2. We are in an asynchronous environment.
    • Immediate response to each email is unlikely. Responses will be made within 24hrs. Office hours for students and discussion boards are ways to get information quickly.
  3. Develop a schedule for your family in terms of work, play, exercise and relaxation.
  4. To the greatest extent possible, support your students’  learning by letting them lead the way.

I continue to find courage in the face of incredibly challenging times from the voices, actions and evidence of support firmly in evidence in our community. While empty parking lots and quiet buildings may indicate a closed school, we are anything but closed. Our learning community is alive and well outside the school walls, and the virtual community is keeping all that we hold dear here at Lincoln Academy in our hearts.

If you need assistance or know of a student or family that may be struggling to connect, please reach out. LA is closely involved with the Lincoln County Relief Initiative that is helping provide food and other essential needs during this difficult time, and we can help connect local families-whether they have a current student or not-with needed services.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

March 20, 2020

Message from the Head of School

“Gratefulness makes two hearts glad.” –Else Pannek

I have struggled this week to find my footing, and I imagine I am not alone. Balancing the work of school and the new reality of having my adult children back under my roof at Borland Hall has allowed me to rediscover the importance of gratitude. Throwing a baseball with my sons in the parking lot, going for a jog with my daughter, and making dinner at home have all provided me moments to practice gratefulness.

People here at Lincoln Academy have done so much that I am grateful for. Our academic leaders have provided clear and concise information for us to follow as we begin this remote learning journey. Led by our social workers, Tory and Lisa, and our Chef, Mikael, food deliveries have begun to those families most in need. It is easy to get lost and disheartened by the news, to let fear take control in the face of uncertainty, and to lose sight of those elements right in front of us that we sometimes take for granted.

The LA community of teachers, staff, students, parents, alumni, and trustees is an incredible source of strength and inspiration. I am especially grateful to be part of this community at this moment in time. As I’ve often said in the last few weeks, I know I don’t have all the answers, but I have great faith in those around me to ask the right questions as we find our way forward.

This coming week I think you will see more elements of our community come shining through. Disruption often inspires creativity, and I have seen this in our teachers in the last week. Remote learning has its challenges, but I believe it has the power to bring us together to connect in meaningful ways. Watch our webpage and social media to see how this joint experiment unfolds. On Monday we launch our remote schooling, so make sure your students connect for each class during the time scheduled and let us know about issues that need to be resolved.

As we enter week two together, let us keep our collective commitment to help “flatten the curve.” Keep practicing social distancing, use technology to connect in meaningful ways, and know that our joint efforts will benefit our entire community.

Please reach out with questions or concerns, I know I look forward to starting class remotely next Monday.


Jeffrey S. Burroughs 
Head of School

P.S. Click here to view a list of important services that are now being offered remotely by members of our Student Services Team. The document includes information about Special Education, contacting the Health Center and Social Workers, food delivery, and more.