Coolidge Corner Naming Process

  • CCS Opening

    This year Brookline and the Coolidge Corner School Community will work together to choose a new name for the Coolidge Corner School.  This is an exciting opportunity for Brookline and the school community. We welcome everyone's participation! 


    February Update

    Since the beginning of December, Coolidge Corner students leading the nomination and initial selection process for new names have engaged in weekly team building sessions. These sessions have included an opportunity to learn from Deborah Brown and Anne Greenwald, community members involved in the initial petition to rename our school at the May 2018 Town Meeting; Dr. Barbara Brown from Hidden Brookline; and Dr. Kalise Wornum, the Public Schools of Brookline’s Senior Director of Educational Equity. Students have also learned about decision-making by consensus; a skill which they used to select a new name for their group. They have named themselves “Student committee-- Students Making a Difference.” Each student has approached their role on the committee with dignity and thoughtfulness. They are stepping up and fully embracing their role as leaders.

    The district also invited the overall Brookline community to submit nominations for a new school name from December 10, 2018, to January 23, 2019. Overall, the district has also received 104 unique nominations for a new school name – all of which can be accessed here. The attached list shows the names just as they were submitted. While errors were clear to us (for example, one nomination was for Edith Wiess, but the owner of Irving’s Toy and Card Shop was Ethel Weiss), we believed it was important to share all of the submissions, as is. The student committee will reconcile these "errors" as they narrow down the nominations list.

    For the next few weeks, the student group will work on narrowing down the submissions to 10-15 semi-finalists names before re-engaging the Brookline community at large for further feedback. Please see the detailed timeline below for an outline of our next steps.

    Reviewing and Narrowing of Name Submissions Phase

    • January 21 - February 11: Selection of semi-finalist names
      • The student nominations group will discuss the name submissions and choose 10-15 names by consensus.
      • Once the 10-15 semi-finalist names are determined, they will be researched for viability by several members of the Public Schools of Brookline leadership staff.

    • February 25 - March 4: Background Research
      • Students on the Student committee will work in pairs to research and create formal “one-pagers” for each of the 10-15 semi-finalists.

    • March 11 - April 1: Semi-finalist Phase
      • All students who applied in the Fall to be part of the renaming process will be re-engaged and invited to participate in this part of the process.
      • The student nominations committee will present their “one-pagers” to this larger group of students and share their process for deciding on the 10-15 semi-finalist names.
      • Led by 1-2 members of the student nominations committee, teams of 4-5 students will research and develop presentations for each semi-finalist.
      • The teams will develop printed media for each semi-finalist name and display them at the Renaming Nights. The Public Schools of Brookline will post media and information about each of the semi-finalists on their website.

    • April 3 and April 11: Renaming Nights
      • In April, our school will host two celebrations of our naming journey:
        • April 3 in the multipurpose room at the Coolidge Corner School
        • April 11 in Hunneman Hall of the main branch Brookline Public Library
        • Both Renaming Nights will take place from 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
      • The Renaming Nights will be open to the public, and the Brookline community at large are invited to both events. Families and community members will be able to interact with the student teams, learning more about each of the semi-finalist names, viewing the printed media created about each semi-finalist, and providing feedback about their preferred name(s).
      • Feedback from attendees of the event will be collected to be used by the student committee for further narrowing of names.
    • April 24: Finalist Selection Phase
      • The student nominations committee will reconvene, process feedback from the April 3 and April 11 Renaming Nights, and come to a consensus on 3-5 names to send to the School Committee.


    Prelminary Timeline

    September 1 - December 10, 2018: Launch Process and Public Outreach

    December 10, 2018 - January 23, 2019: Community Submits Nominations

    January 23 - March 27, 2019: Reviewing Nominations and Identifying Semi-Finalists

    March 27 - April 26, 2019: Reviewing Semi-Finalists and Identiying Finalists

    May 2019: School Committee selects Recommended Name


    Renaming an existing school is a rare and special opportunity. Naming a school requires a high standard; one that is above and beyond naming a street or another type of public building. In our schools, we ask students to assume the identity of the building’s namesake. A school name is an important part of a child’s identity and that connection stays with them for years, if not decades.

    The School Committee and Superintendent Bott would like the town to take this unique opportunity and use it to not just pick a new name, but to thoughtfully identify a name that reflects the school’s past, present and future, embodies its core values, and inspires students for decades to come. The process needs to be guided by the school’s core values, allow for naming suggestions from the current school community and the broader public in Brookline, and consider closely the issues raised during the Town’s decision to change the school name including the history of slavery and racism in Brookline and the need to more accurately recognize the contributions of people of color to the town’s rich history.

    The Town’s by-laws state that the new name of a school building must be recommended by the School Committee to the Town’s Naming Committee. If approved by the Naming Committee, the proposed name is submitted to Town Meeting as a Warrant Article and is voted on by Town Meeting. It is up to the School Committee to determine the process it uses to identify a recommended name for a school building. The re-naming process will have six major steps:

    1. Outreach and Submission of Nominations
    2. Student Nominations Committee considers all nominations and identifies up to 10 "semi-finalists"
    3. School Committee Capital Subcommittee recommends up to three finalist names to the full School Committee
    4. School Committee selects one name and recommends it to the Town Naming Committe to be the permanent name of the school
    5. Town Naming Committee considers the recommended name. If it approves the name, the committee submits it to Town Meeting as a Warrant Article
    6. Town Meeting considers Warrant Article and votes on recommended name.

    Edward Devotion, for whom the school was originally named, was a slave holder. In May 2018, by voting to change the name of the Devotion School, Town Meeting decided that it is no longer appropriate to name a school after a person who held another in bondage, and to continue to do so would undermine the core values of equity, mutual respect, and inclusion that our public schools strive to impart on our students.  

    In creating the naming process, the School Committee and Superintendent Bott have received input from Coolidge Corner educators and parents, the petitioners who proposed the name change, Devotion School alumni, the members of the Town’s Ad Hoc Task Force on School Names and others to help them create an open and inclusive process. The process will be open to the public and will allow all community members to participate, especially those who have been marginalized historically.

    Renaming the Devotion School is another step in the Town’s continuing efforts to recognize the strength of its diversity and the contributions of people of color to the town’s rich history. Since 2006, when the Hidden Brookline Committee was established, community members have been working to better understand and bring to light the history of slavery and freedom in Brookline. Hidden Brookline’s work led to Town Meeting’s passing, in 2012, of a warrant article called “A Resolution Regarding Slavery in Brookline: that acknowledged the history of slavery in Brookline and pledged “vigilance against all practices and institutions that dehumanize and discriminate against people.” Also as a result of Hidden Brookline’s work, the Public Schools of Brookline’s 3rd grade social studies curriculum contains a unit about slavery in Brookline that includes the history of Edward Devotion being a slaveholder. More recently, in 2017, the Town entered into a compact with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE).  This compact commits the Town to strive toward racial equity in all facets of its operations and policies and to work with community partners in reducing racism in all of its forms.

    Click here to learn more about the naming process. You may also submit comments and feedback via this online form