Frequently Asked Questions - Coolidge Corner School Naming Process
The rationale for changing the Devotion School’s name was rooted in the fact that Edward Devotion held another person in slavery. How will this fact be addressed during the naming process?
Openly and honestly in a way that educates both students and adults in the community. At the Coolidge Corner School, all students will learn about the process by which Town Meeting decided to change their school name. This includes presentations made by the original petitioners of the warrant article. Students will also learn about slavery in Brookline, the extent of it, and the efforts by townspeople to eradicate slavery.
Adults in the school community who are current or past parents of the school’s students or alumni will be able to participate in forums about the name change and the impetus behind it.
What is the Nominations Committee and what role will it play?
The Nominations Committee is made up of 14 Coolidge Corner Students and 4 Brookline High School students who are graduates of Devotion School. This group of students will review all nominations and will select five names to recommend to the Brookline School Committee.
Will students be able to play such a significant role in such an important process?
Yes. Just like our students are supported and guided to do incredible and inspiring work in Brookline’s schools everyday, these student leaders will be fully supported to do the work of the Nominations Committee. Students will take the work very seriously. They will be fair and thoughtful, and they will inspire us with their commitment and judgement. Adults will provide support to these students in the following ways:
- A Coolidge Corner co-principal and vice principal will facilitate the Nominations Committee, mentoring the students, providing structure and guidance, and helping them figure out how to make difficult decisions when necessary.
- Members of the School Committee’s Ad Hoc Task Force on School Name will serve as an advisory board to the Nominations Committee helping to answer questions, providing the committee with the larger context of the naming effort, and providing counsel.
- Students from local universities will be tapped to provide pro-bono research support on nominated names to help the students understand the context and/or significance of specific nominations.
How many students will be on the Nominations Committee?
There will be 18 students on the Nominations Committee; 14 students in grades 3-8 at the Coolidge Corner School and four Brookline High School students who attended the Devotion School.
How will students be selected for the Nominations Committee?
Any Coolidge Corner student and graduates of the Devotion School who attend Brookline High School who is interested will complete an application that will be reviewed by a group of school administrators and school community members. Each student will be asked to explain their interest and answer a few questions in writing or through video. The goal is to have a diverse group of students who represent the diverse perspectives and backgrounds of the Coolidge Corner School community and demonstrates an interest in social justice issues.
Will other students have the chance to participate in the selection of a name?
Yes, all PSB students will have the ability to participate in a variety of ways. All students, alumni, and Brookline community members will be able to nominate names. Each class at the Coolidge Corner will work in age appropriate ways to nominate a name or names. Students can also advocate for a name they support during the public meeting process and with the School Committee as it considers finalists.
What role will the Brookline High Schools students who are on the Nominations Committee have?
While the specific work and function of the Nominations Committee are still being worked out, in addition to being full, participating members of the committee, the BHS students would also work with the faculty/staff advisors to help facilitate and organize the committee. They could support the other students and also be a conduit to students at BHS to keep them informed of the process.
Why is it important for students to play such a significant role in this process?
At the May 2018 Town Meeting, Ada Goldstein, who was then a 3rd grader at Devotion stood up and spoke in support of the name change. She also made three requests on behalf of her classmates:
- Give us students a chance to talk about all our feelings around the name change. We may feel excited, happy, sad, angry, annoyed, or stressed about the change. Help us manage our feelings.
- Teach us more about Edward Devotion and slavery and racism, and why taking his name off our school now is important.
- Give us students a humongous say in what the new name will be. I don’t want random grown-ups coming into our classrooms, and announcing, “Hello students. Your school is now named ‘The Swedish Chef School.’ Goodbye.” Give us the right to explore, offer, and vote on a new name.
All three of Ada’s suggestions are wise, and the school is already working on incorporating the first two into the beginning of the school year. Including students and the school community in the process will help to identify a name that is based on the values of the school community, allow the school community and students have ownership in the process, and lead to a name that can be celebrated and honored going forward.
If students make up the Nominations Committee, what role will adults have in identifying and selecting a name?
Any person in town will able to nominate a name or names to be considered for the school. Like any naming process or policy decision made by the School Committee, community members will be able to advocate, support, and share their ideas during public meetings. The Ad Hoc Task Force on School Names will provide support to the Nominations Committee and also work with the School Committee Capital Subcommittee to identify the finalist names. At Town Meeting, Town Meeting Members and and other community members can speak in support of or in opposition to the warrant article. Also, depending on the nominations, significant research may be needed on some of the proposed names to ensure they support the values of the Coolidge Corner School community and the criteria established in the Town’s Naming Process.
How will community outreach be done so a wide variety of community members including those from typically underrepresented groups are aware of and can participate in the naming process?
The public schools and the Town’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion will work together to communicate as clearly as possible with many community members including those who do not typically participate in town or school processes. In addition to using email and social media, we will work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to reach out via the Brookline Interactive Group; print and online media; groups of community members such as neighborhood associations, local clergy, PTOs, Devotion School alumni, and others. Full information will also be posted on the PSB and updates will be provided via the district's monthly newsletters.
If you have additional ideas for outreach, please let us know by by submitting them via this online form.
What if the Town’s Naming Committee or Town Meeting rejects the name recommended by the School Committee?
If either the Town’s Naming Committee or Town Meeting do not approve the name recommended by the School Committee, then the school remains named Coolidge Corner School until Town Meeting approves a new name.