Heath School Name Committee – Mission Statement: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JuPSxey6XkzUkC6vgylUo2j_GL7SSz2c2BdWy_e8Efo/edit?usp=sharing
We invite you into a conversation about identity and recognition, the history of slavery in our community, deepening our commitment to school safety, and complex change.
Our school holds a prominent place in our community. The school building is nestled squarely in a quiet neighborhood, creating a safe harbor for all students, whether from right down the block or coming each day from Boston. Generations of children have established their educational foundations here, while their families have turned to this space with great trust, boundless hope, and expectations for excellence. Countless teachers have made this place their professional home, dedicating part or all of their careers to the work inside these walls.
This school has played a central role in so many lives for over 100 years.
In the very recent past, we learned that our school had indeed been named after a street, but that the street had been named after a family: the Heath family. The Heath family took tremendous pride in the school on their street. They also, according to Town records, enslaved five people.
Knowing that our beloved school is named for a family that enslaved other humans has made it increasingly difficult to promote our vision for inclusion and equity.
This virtual space is intended to serve as a source of information, updates, and resources so that we can collectively understand the role of slavery in our community, the impact on our school, create a vision of ourselves more aligned with our current values, and build as safe a community as possible for those in our care.
Reckoning with this past is essential to building a better future for our students.
Choosing a New School Name
Naming a school is important. A school name should represent the spirit, virtues, and soul of its community. As community members, we have a unique responsibility and an incredible opportunity to choose a name that we can honor and celebrate.
The new name we choose should:
Uplift a person, place, or event that exemplifies those core beliefs and reflects our community’s past, present, and future (see Town Bylaws)
Reaffirm our commitment to fostering an equity-focused, aspirational, inclusive, and mindful community
Demonstrate our commitment to Brookline as a great place to learn and grow
Be an exemplar for students in our care now and for those students to come
Recognize the contributions of all people to the town’s rich history
CLOSED! Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas! If you have ideas about a nominee for a new school name, we encourage you to fill out this form: https://forms.gle/aHVyyvHp1zJaehsH7 This could be a terrific activity for the whole family!
Thank you for your thoughtful ideas!
Many of you might have questions or comments about the Heath School name, the history of the name, and the renaming process. We hope that after you explore the resources here, that if you have additional questions or want to share a comment you’ll then submit those questions and comments here: https://forms.gle/fE6Ezs2MHdsDcd199. We will then work to provide information on the next steps in the process and clarity on the lingering questions in the community.
Announcement: Heath Renaming Process, October 18, 2022: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hRYm9JiYdGxQB2UAluHJwwcNRrOxW_xQ5i1_5-PBxL8/edit?usp=sharing
Letter to the Community, December 13, 2021: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1taybMj47qgIK-rjFjNl-1ES0aHpueS04YlRHwD8yIHM/edit?usp=sharing
Brookline History: Schools, Brookline History Schools.pdf
Florence Palmer Peabody’s “When I Went to School” (from the Dedication of the New Heath School, 1959):
Florida Ruffin Ridley Renaming Process: Coolidge Corner Naming Process
Harmony Grove (Framingham Public Schools) Renaming Process, About Us / Renaming Our School
Hidden Brookline’s Website, HIDDEN BROOKLINE
Hidden Brookline, The Heath Family: Slavery and Inherited Wealth: https://hiddenbrookline.weebly.com/heath-the-school--the-family.html
From “The Slave Holding History of Brookline and Implications for the Heath School,”3.19.19 Ad Hoc Task Force Agenda and Materials.pdf
School Naming Committees: Meeting Notes and Agendas, SY23: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11byTg8xuHg0aUptdSDt1Y8BHsKcZAlKdVDKl9jJHWK8/edit?usp=sharing
School naming Committee: Zoom Sessions: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12o38OgAHBeExObFSHBNFqrkB4vEMmKCU?usp=sharing
Heath School Name: Dinner Conversation Starters & More! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qNBB1Sm6adNvJgthciEyFpBLX_Rd_a7Q2ZojgpYPqeA/edit?usp=sharing
Recordings of the three Community Conversations we have remain up and on YouTube for your viewing. Find them here:
From March 16, 2022 – Hidden Brookline
From March 29, 2022 – The Heath School Name Dialogue
From April 5, 2022 – Florida Ruffin Ridley School Renaming Process
Student Work & Learning
Student Learning Opportunities – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kLyNHznibtjfJD3ZiIDmohdmZ14SpYO1hlXVNkcb-vo/edit?usp=sharing
8th Grade Student Presentations, Spring 2022: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1e61Q6h5lx_A3NdYoaGxSppiH2Z9hePEn8neNI3esreE/edit?usp=sharing
4th Grade, Letters to Town Meeting Members, Spring 2022: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HAuCaxqNOxYoEdhaSBUsLC7UN2wnfwySGGqfaXWyV1s/edit?usp=sharing