Coolidge Corner Naming Process

  • 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! 


    September 2019 Update: Moving Forward with the Town-wide Process

    Following the initial nomination period, the Public Schools of Brookline has made important milestones in the Coolidge Corner School Naming Process. After a collaborative vetting process with members of the community, district staff, and Coolidge Corner School students, the School Committee has recommended moving forward with Florida Ruffin Ridley as the new school name.

    Over the next few weeks, the Town Naming Committee and Advisory Committee will hold meetings and public hearing sessions to discuss the recommendation and gather community input. Additionally, a warrant article formalizing the name change is being drafted for the 2019 Fall Town Meeting. Should Town Meeting Members approve this motion in November 2019, the Florida Ruffin Ridley school will be established as the new, permanent name for the school building.

    June 2019 Update: Selection of Finalist Name


    On June 19, 2019, the School Committee recommended the Florida Ruffin Ridley School as the new permanent name for the Coolidge Corner School. While there are still a number of steps before Town Meeting votes on a final name, the School Committee moved the process forward by selecting and honoring a woman whose life can serve as a role model for our students, be a source of pride for our community, and inspire us through her work and service to others.

    Mrs. Ridley’s selection is the result of a thoughtful and careful collaboration between our school and the Greater Brookline community. Central to this process, however, has always been the involvement of our students. Throughout this past year, our students have been actively participating in the renaming process. They have engaged thoughtfully by putting names forward during the initial nomination process, serving on the Bee-lievers of Change nominations committee, participating in various public meetings and forums, and thinking critically about how one personifies “Work Hard, Be Kind, Help Others”. We are proud that students have embraced the opportunity to steup and become active leaders of their community and modeled for us all positive collaboration and leadership.  

    In the next few months, the Town Naming Committee will consider the recommendation made by the School Committee and determine whether or not to move it forward at the 2019 Fall Town Meeting. Ultimately, Town Meeting must vote to approve the naming of any Town building before it is permanent. We will continue to keep you informed of the process as the district learns more about the next steps and timeline later this summer, and ensure that community remains proactive and engaged in their participation.

    May 2019 Update: Presentation of Finalist Names  

    One year ago, Brookline Town Meeting acknowledged that it is no longer acceptable to name a school after a person who held another human in slavery and voted to change the name of the Edward Devotion School. This important decison launched a community-wide process to identify a new name for the school that better represents Brookline’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. At the School Committee meeting on Wednesday May 29, this process reached an important milestone when our Nominations Committee announced the four finalist names for the school: 

    Additional information about each finalist presented at June 19 School Committee Meeting

    As the student members of the Nominations Committee so capably explained in front of the public and the School Committee, these four leaders are examples of courage, dedication, and a commitment to enduring causes; each of them is worthy of the honor. These leaders - a civil rights activist, a tenor, a politician, and a suffragist - all have close ties to Brookline, with three of them having lived here and the fourth working in Brookline in her efforts to desegregate area schools. In selecting four finalists from the 15 semi-finalists, the Nominations Committee also responded to community input to recognize a person who supported education, made a positive impact on their local community, and embodied the school’s values of work hard, be kind, and help others. The four finalists are an impressive group of individuals whose contributions have been minimized, dismissed, or forgotten entirely until a Brookline community member put their name forward. We can all be proud that one of our most important public facilities will be named after one of these four impressive individuals.

    Help the School Committee decide between the Four Finalist Names by submitting your input here

    Please come to the following community meetings to share your input on the finalists with the School Committee. 

    • Public Hearing: Thursday, June 6 at 7:00 p.m. on the 5th Floor of Brookline Town Hall, 333 Washington Street
    • Evening Listening Session: Thursday, June 13 at 7:00 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Coolidge Corner School, 345 Harvard Street
    • Morning Listening Session: Monday, June 17 at 8:15 a.m. in the Cafeteria of the Coolidge Corner School, 345 Harvard Street

    BeeliversOfChange    Students presenting to the School Committee

    (Left: Principal Buller and Vice Principal Ola with the Bee-lievers of Change; Right: The Bee-lievers of Change presenting the finalists to the School Committee.)

    April 2019 Update: Presentation of Semi-Finalist Names

    In March 2019, the district provided a comprehensive update on the Coolidge Corner School Renaming Process and the work that the “Bee-lievers of Change” - our student nominations committee - has been doing to choose a new name for the Coolidge Corner School. We are excited to announce that our student group has selected 15 official semi-finalist names for further consideration. 

    During the official window to submit nominations (from December 10 through January 23) we received 119 unique name nominations from over 250 entries. Since then, the Bee-lievers of Change vetted and reviewed every name using a rubric that included the town’s naming criteria, the school’s core values, and whether or not the name meets any restorative justice criteria. Students were supported throughout this process by PSB staff and community members.

    In addition to reviewing the semi-finalist presentation materials and providing your feedback in person during the Renaming Nights on April 3, April 11, and April 23, you can also complete an online input form through this link hereWe welcome your feedback on the semi-finalist names between April 3 and April 29, 2019. The student committee will use all input received during this period to recommend finalist names to be considered by the School Committee and the Town-wide Naming Committee in May 2019.

    Presentations created and showcased by the Student Naming Committee during the three renaming nights can be found below:

    CCS Opening

    March 2019 Update

    In May 2018, Brookline Town Meeting acknowledged that it is no longer acceptable to name a school after a person who held another human in slavery and voted to change the name of the Edward Devotion School temporarily to the Coolidge Corner School and begin the process to identify a permanent name. Through the great work of our student nominations committee, the Town is making terrific progress on choosing a name that better represents Brookline’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    The official window to submit nominations for a new name opened on December 10, 2018 and closed on January 23, 2019. We received 119 unique nominations from over 250 entries. Since the beginning of December, the student group leading the nomination and initial selection process for new names has 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 Town Meeting warrant article petition to rename the school; Dr. Barbara Brown from Hidden Brookline; and Dr. Kalise Wornum, the Public Schools of Brookline’s Senior Director of Educational Equity. In addition, the students have learned about decision-making by consensus; a skill which they used to select a new name for their group. They have named themselves the “Bee-lievers in Change - Students Making a Difference” in keeping with the school’s bumble bee mascot.

    The Bee-lievers in Change are reviewing all of the 119 nominations to narrow the list down to 10-15 semi-finalist names for further consideration. Principal Jennifer Buller and Vice Principal Saeed Ola, along with Superintendent Andrew Bott, are supporting the students’ research and vetting of each of the submissions. The students are using a rubric that includes the town naming criteria, the school’s core values, and whether or not the name meets any restorative justice criteria. As semi-finalist names are chosen, the students will research each nomination and develop short background summaries for each one. In mid-March, the students who applied but were not selected to be a part of the nomatiations committee will work with Bee-lievers in Change to develop presentations about each of the semi-finalist names. These presentations will be shared with the public on Renaming Nights in April. 

    Please see the detailed timeline below for an outline of our next steps, including opportunities to submit comments, speak at upcoming public hearings, and take part when Town Meeting considers the final recommendation. Click here to see the full 119 unique nominations.

    • Nominations Accepted: December 10, 2018 - January 23, 2019
      • Nominations accepted through web-based form and nominations forms available at all schools, public libraries, and Town Hall.

    • Nomination Review and Selection of Semi-Finalists: February - March 11
      • The Bee-lievers in Change student committee reviews all nominations and identifies 10-15 semi-finalist names.
      • Semi-finalists further researched for viability by several members of the Public Schools of Brookline leadership staff.

    • Semi-Finalist Phase: March 11 – April 1
      • All the students who originally applied to be part of the student renaming committee will be re-engaged and invited to participate in Semi-Finalist phase.
      • Teams of 4-5 students research and develop presentations for each semi-finalist name with each team being led by 1-2 members of the Bee-lievers in Change.
      • The teams will develop printed media and presentations for each semi-finalist name. The media and information about each of the semi-finalists will be displayed at the Renaming Nights and posted on the Public Schools of Brookline website.

    • Renaming Nights: April 3, April 11, and April 23
      • The Renaming Nights will be open to the public, and the community-at-large will be invited to both events.
      • Families and community members will be able to interact with the student teams, learn more about each of the semi-finalist names, view the printed media created about each semi-finalist, and provide feedback about their preferred name(s).
      • The student committee will use input from participants when reviewing the Semi-Finalist nominations.
        • April 3 at the Coolidge Corner School - Multipurpose Room from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
        • April 11 at the Brookline Public Library - Hunneman Hall from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
        • April 23 at the Brookline High School - MLK Room from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    • Finalists Selection: April 24 - May 1
      • The Bee-lievers in Change committee will reconvene, process the feedback from the Renaming Nights, and come to consensus on 3-5 names to send to the Brookline School Committee. 

    •  School and Town Board Consideration: May - June 
      • The School Committee will consider the finalist names submitted by the Bee-lievers in Change. After holding a public hearing, the School Committee will vote to recommend one name to the Townwide Naming Committee as Town bylaws require.
      • Following Town bylaws, the Townwide Naming Committee will consider the School Committee’s recommendation, hold a public hearing, and decide whether to submit a warrant article to Town Meeting with the recommended name.
      • Town Meeting considers warrant article recommending permanent name. (Likely November 2019)

    To review documents and materials relating to the nominations review, please click here.

    Overview & Background

    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 questions via this online form