Failure to name middle school for Ellen Garrison is dismaying

March 3, 2024

As a lifelong educator, teaching at a neighboring high school, I am dismayed by the School Committee’s vote to name Concord’s new middle school.   

In order for students to learn and grow, adults must model actions consistent with stated values and moral principles. Instead the School Committee’s decision shows a callous disregard for Concord Public Schools’ district core values inclusion and innovation and mission statement to educate all students …. in our increasingly diverse global society. Superintendent Laurie Hunter and members of our School Committee’s disingenuous argument that the name Concord Middle School unites our community does the opposite: ignoring Garrison’s accomplishments as a Concord educator who embodied district core values, while shutting out the very people referred to in the phrase ‘diverse global society.’ 

Further, School Committee Chair Alexa Anderson’s argument that “elevating a single individual over any other just doesn’t seem right,” flies in the face of Concord’s past practice. Think of the other individuals elevated in our town: Thoreau School, Alcott Elementary, are a few of many examples. Last week’s Bridge’s picture of smiling faces bundled up to celebrate Thoreau school’s first Winter Walk shows community building. Actions speak louder than words.  

Finally, the vote, after hours of discussion, where 10 out of 15 speakers spoke in favor of naming the school Ellen Garrison, and the METCO representatives’ potentially tying vote did not count, is neither inclusive nor unifying. Rather this decision speaks volumes about whose voice matters.   

Our students deserve to learn in schools where actions are guided by core values. Naming our new school Ellen Garrison Middle School is a good place to start. 

Lori Hodin 

Main Street