• Head of School
An Update on Lincoln's Anti-racist Work

The following post was originally sent as a letter to the Lincoln community from Sophie Glenn Lau '88, Lincoln's head of school.


Dear Lincoln community,

The new school year has begun, and it’s been a wonderful reminder of the joy and excitement that students bring to our campus. We are adjusting to the realities of teaching and learning in the era of COVID-19, and it’s never been more certain that learning is at the heart of all we do at Lincoln, from our littlest students all the way up to school leadership.

It is in that spirit that I am sharing an update on our anti-racist work. In June, Suzanne Fogarty, former head of school, and Jane P. Jamieson ’71, chair of the Lincoln Board of Trustees, wrote to the community about Lincoln’s commitment to being an anti-racist school. They were writing in the aftermath of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, and responding to the nationwide demand for racial justice and equity. Since then, we have been engaging in discussions about next steps. Recent and ongoing racially-based violence has added even more urgency to this work. I am writing to update you on our progress.

Over the past few months, alumnae, current students, and parents have shared their experiences by email, on social media, and in our Community Forum. I am grateful to them for sharing their personal and, in many cases, painful, stories. At the Forum, I was struck and saddened by the similarities in the stories that we heard from alumnae who graduated over 30 years ago to those of recent graduates. To those of you who have reached out to say you are frustrated by the lack of change, I can only say that I feel that with you: we need to change, and we will do better.

To that end, our Anti-racist Task Force has spent time this summer examining what work has been done at Lincoln and identifying areas of growth with the purpose of developing short- and long-term goals and objectives.

As we approach this work, we are cognizant that effective change relies on current data. We will administer the National Association of Independent Schools Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) this October. The intention of this survey, which will include students, alumnae, faculty, families, and trustees, is to assess our school climate in order to identify strategic equity goals. We will use the data that we collect to inform our work going forward.

For the 2020–21 school year, we are focusing on the following areas for action and further examination:

Curriculum and Faculty Training

  • All faculty will engage in professional development through the Teaching Tolerance. We will participate in the training “Social Justice 101: Incorporating the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards,” in which faculty learn to incorporate the organization’s social justice standards into their classroom practice. As importantly, this training will empower teachers “to speak up—and teach students to speak up—against bias and injustice.” We will use faculty meetings and meetings of Professional Learning Groups to supplement this work throughout the year.
  • Ten faculty, staff, and administrators will participate in restorative justice training with Youth Restorative Action. Going forward, we hope to have a group of faculty participate in this training each year.
  • This summer the school purchased new books to increase diversity and representation of people of color in the Lower School curriculum.
  • Starting in October, a subcommittee of the Anti-racist Task Force will engage in an examination of the curriculum at all Divisions.
  • By January 2021, we will review the process of faculty review and evaluation in order to incorporate metrics around anti-racist teaching and ongoing professional development in this area.

Community Voices

  • Dr. Barret Fabris has scheduled a series of Center Chats for families to offer updates on and our anti-racist work and to engage in conversation around it.
  • The Center will continue to host affinity groups for families and students of color.
  • Throughout the year, we hope to have students share their perspectives in the 2B1Informed newsletter as well as the Front and Center podcast.
  • We plan to hold another Community Forum for alumnae at the end of September.

Student Experience

  • Dr. Fabris is working with students and Kara Newman-Gilligan, dean of students, to create a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Student Union.
  • Faculty and staff members of color are establishing a mentor program for students of color.
  • We are working to establish a reporting system for incidents of bias and racism, and a process for responding to incidents in a way that is developmentally appropriate, oriented towards restorative justice, and reflective of our mission and anti-racist objectives.

Hiring and Retention

  • In December 2020, we hope to make it possible for a significant number of our faculty and staff members of color to attend the People of Color Conference which provides opportunities for mentorship, connection, and fellowship.
  • By January 2021, we will undergo a comprehensive examination of our hiring, onboarding, and retention policies with the intention of establishing a formal framework and strategy to increase the number of Black faculty and staff members.

Throughout the year, subgroups of the Anti-racism Task Force will continue to work in these areas as well as examine other aspects of school life, including admissions, financial aid, outreach, and marketing.

The Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees is also working towards institutional change. Like the faculty, they added Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist to their summer reading list. The Alumnae Board devoted part of their summer retreat to a discussion of anti-racism as well. As a community, we are committed to moving forward.

We will continue this work throughout the fall and hope to be able to share longer-term goals with you in the coming months.

Onward together,

Sophie Glenn Lau ’88
Head of Lincoln School