Head of School Jeff Burroughs welcomes students to school during Lincoln Academy orientation.

September 8, 2020

Last week was an incredible week. Seeing students and teachers interacting and sharing welcomes has made all of us here at Lincoln feel gratitude and support. During orientation discussions and virtual meetings with parents and faculty I found a familiar feeling: the feeling of starting something new within a proud and traditional institution.

I remember sitting on the floor of my manager’s room in the storied Caledonian hotel in Edinburgh Scotland working on our charts for the presentation. We had a meeting in the morning with two companies that would help us secure the contract to build a computer graphics chip in IBM’s US manufacturing plants. It was a bold move, one that many felt wouldn’t work, not because IBM didn’t have great technology or smart and talented engineers, but because we were a traditional corporation known for secrecy and formal dress codes, not for customer service or being nimble in the face of a changing market.

I haven’t found myself in a hotel room since March. And while I have managed to keep myself off the floor in this pandemic, I have seen similar themes play out as we have planned Lincoln Academy’s reopening over the last 6 months. The faculty and staff have done incredible work to prepare for the return of students this week, and I felt that same excitement on campus this week that I did in Scotland working up that pitch. I have been reminded many times of the weight of the ask we have made of teachers. We’ve asked them to let go of years of experience as classroom teachers and transform their content and expectations into a virtual medium. We’ve asked them to let go of the confidence they would bring to a normal start of school, and embrace the uncertainty of this moment. We have asked our students to embrace this difficult process of change and adaptation to a new normal, and so far, they have done this with incredible courage.

I have found myself reminding faculty and students that in this time of living in a world assaulted by a global pandemic, unbalanced by an incredibly polarized political landscape, and distracted by many unknowns, to remember to be human. We know they are loyal to LA, its students, families and traditions, and most of all we need to be ourselves.

It has been through collective investment in a plan to return to as normal a school as we can safely provide that I have witnessed the incredible power of a group of people following their calling: to teach young people.

We did end up earning that business for IBM, and for more than a year I worked in the UK to bring that chip to market. There were ups and downs, things that could have gone better and aspects that we celebrated. I am certain that the same will be true this year at Lincoln. None of us knows how we will be tested in the coming weeks and months, but I know I am grateful to be here in this school with this dedicated group of faculty, staff, and students.

Be well and stay safe.

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School