Columbus Faculty Renamers Weigh Priorities


Should the new Columbus Family Academy name represent all of the school’s ethnic groups? Should it make a statement on indigenous history? Should it keep the “family academy” for reasons of continuity?

A committee of teachers, parents, students, and community leaders has eight weeks to clarify these issues.

“I hope we come to something that will reconcile rather than compromise. I don’t like compromises because they make everyone unhappy. I hope we come to something that renames the school with the dignity and respect the children deserve, ”said Carlos Torre, one of the three chairmen of the committee.

These questions arose Tuesday night at the first meeting of the New Haven Board of Education’s newly formed School Establishment Designation Committee.

Over the next two months, the committee plans to select no more than two new names for the K-8 school, which is currently named after Christopher Columbus. The board then makes the final decision on the new name of the school.

The school has been in limbo since last summer when the Board of Education renamed the Board of Education decided to change the name of the school as part of a citywide and national settlement with the explorer of the 15th century violent inheritance.

Not long after that, the board passed a new renaming policy. The new policy stipulated that the renaming committee would include students, parents, teachers, paraprofessional professionals, food service professionals and others from the school under discussion. Tuesday was the first (virtual) meeting of this new group.

The group plans to meet weekly on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m.

The first meeting was less formal than later, according to board member Tamiko Jackson-McArthur. Jackson-McArthur co-organized the committee with President Yesenia Rivera.

ZoomingInstead of a formal agenda, the committee members introduced themselves one by one and described what hopefully will emerge from the process.

Veteran Columbus Family Academy teacher Irene Logan asked the committee to focus on a name that would represent the school’s student body.

“We have a very diverse community. I would like to see a name that doesn’t represent a particular ethnicity, but a name that brings it all together, ”Logan said. “When people say this name, they know exactly what we stand for.”

Parent Fatima Rojas described choosing the Columbus Family Academy for their bilingual program. As someone who grew up in Mexico, she wanted her children to speak both Spanish and English. (She noted that Spanish exists in Mexico due to colonization and that her family’s truly indigenous language is Nahuatl.)

She found that many of her peers were from other indigenous communities – Puerto Rican descendants of Taíno, Guatemalan students, Ecuadorian students, black students …

“Remember, we are in Quinnipiac land. There are no schools with this legacy on the front lines. I hope to bring that. I hope we can work together by consensus to represent the indigenous people, ”said Rojas.

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First grade English teacher Debbie Pires said she hopes to represent some of the school’s philosophies in the new name, from teaching bilingual lessons to playful learning to community emphasis.

“I would like to keep the Family Academy. We build relationships with students and parents. If we kept the family, the community would still remember what school it used to be and that it was a family, ”Pires said.

The committee has two student representatives. One, Charly Huinac, found his way to the meeting in the last few minutes. Huinac has attended Columbus Family Academy since preschool and is having a hard time figuring out a new name. Even so, he understands why the renaming is important and is for the idea.

“We’re trying to find out that everyone has a chance and everyone is equal,” said Huinac.