August 24, 2009
Julia Russell Eells, Head of School
A New Lesson in History
am pretty sure I was not alone as a seventh grader wondering why I had
to learn about history. Dates and facts about events and people in the
past seemed irrelevant to me -- I was always more interested in the
here-and-now and the what’s-to-come.
More than two years ago
the Lincoln community began talking about ways that we might celebrate
and commemorate Lincoln’s 125th Anniversary and I have to admit, a
little bit of that seventh grader in me surfaced. I was less
interested in acknowledging birthdays and more interested in planning
for our future. As meetings with alumnae, students, trustees, parents
and faculty and staff progressed, my perspective broadened as I began
to appreciate the teaching and learning moments better, as well as the
points of pride for institutions that can come from these reflections
back on our history.
One hundred and twenty-five years ago, a
young mother was committed to open a school in Providence that would
provide her daughter and other girls access and tools to take their
rightful places in the world. Until that moment in 1884, there were
few or no educational opportunities for girls in this city, let alone
New England. Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA had opened a few years
earlier and Winsor and Wheeler Schools were not yet imagined.
This is where the dates and facts about events and people in the past get interesting for me.
determined mother founded Lincoln in 1884 and then, decades later,
those who led Lincoln in the 1970s held fiercely onto our commitment to
keep girls at the center of our classrooms. Imagine the strength,
patience and courage it has taken to support and fulfill our important
mission during these challenging times. The appreciation of the history
of something that is so relevant to us – our school – reminds us how
critical our understanding of history is in understanding individual
courage, in finding inspiration to carry forward, and in fighting
indifference in our communities and in our world.
one-quarter centuries after the founding of this culture-shifting
school, our graduates are members of the most informed and best
connected population that has walked this earth. With this important
perspective and all the tools needed to “take our rightful place in the
world,” we possess a certain responsibility to act as courageously as
did those who imagined the beginnings and secured the future of Lincoln
School. That’s a good enough reason to learn history for me.