An Update on the School History Working Group

The School History Working Group — established earlier this year by Head of School Charley Stillwell and Chair of the Board of Trustees Lee Ainslie ’82 P’14 ’17 — has continued its work to explore the role enslaved people played in the School’s pre-Civil War years and to advise the Board on a thoughtful path forward. As noted in the January newsletter, the Group is charged with identifying key takeaways from the research conducted thus far and sharing them with the Board as it considers how to acknowledge that history, how to continue the research, and how to discuss implications of our past in relation to the School today and in the future. 

Since November, a focus of the Group has been to learn from experts who have approached this important work in a variety of ways at educational institutions across the country. To that end, members of the Group have spoken with over 20 scholars and leaders who have shared a range of experiences and perspectives. A next phase is for the Group to engage with members of the EHS community. In an initial step, Chair Billy Peebles ’73 came to campus and met with members of the EHS faculty and staff to discuss the research and efforts of the Working Group. A next step will be to organize group discussions involving alumni, students, and parents. 

The touchstone principles guiding the Group’s work are, as Peebles says, “very consistent with Episcopal’s enduring mission: honesty, objectivity, transparency, our preeminent role as an educational institution first and foremost. We see this as an opportunity for the community to learn and grow.”

The Working Group continues to engage with former EHS faculty member Mike Reynolds and is grateful for his ongoing scholarly research and support. As potential concepts begin to take shape, the Group looks forward to a preliminary discussion with the Board of Trustees in March. 

As always, people should not hesitate to reach out to members of the Working Group, listed below, with any thoughts or questions.
  • Billy Peebles ’73, Trustee 2015-2021, Working Group Chair
  • Jonathan Beane ’88 P’24 ’24, Trustee and Chair of the Racism, Understanding, and Belonging Task Force
  • Lenora Gant P’96, Trustee 1996-2002
  • Bailey Patrick ’79 P’11 ’12 ’14, Trustee 2004-10, Board Chair 2011-17
  • Louis Smith P’19, ’22, ’23, Director of the Office of Community and Equity
  • Bobby Watts P’98 ’00, faculty member 1992-2014