PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Board of Education unanimously voted on Thursday to change the name of Andrew Jackson Elementary School to Fanny Jackson Coppin Elementary School.
The name change will go into effect on July 1, according to an email from the School District of Philadelphia.
The district said the decision came after months of discussion with the school community about choosing a namesake that "spoke to the importance of education within the diverse community."
More than 1,100 families responded to a survey last spring that sought input on four possible name changes, according to the district. Fanny Jackson Coppin received the most support from the school community.
"The School District of Philadelphia recognizes that school names are an important part of students’ learning environments and should cultivate a sense of pride in the history and traditions, to ensure that all students, staff, and families feel respected, seen, and heard." the district said in a release.
In order to rename a school building, the district goes through a five-phase School Renaming Request Process. This process includes input from the school community and a review by the Superintendent.
Andrew Jackson Elementary School will now be known as Fanny Jackson Coppin Elementary School following a unanimous decision by the school board.
"This name is about recognizing the contributions of an educator whose work isn’t widely known, but it’s also about showing our students the impact they can have on the lives of others," Jackson Elementary School Principal Kelly Espinosa said.
Fanny Jackson Coppin was an enslaved servant in Washington D.C. before she gained her freedom as a child. Coppin went on to graduate from Rhode Island State Normal School and Oberlin College in Ohio. She was the second African-American woman to graduate college.
Coppin came to Philadelphia to work at the Institute for Colored Youth, a Quaker school where she eventually became head principal. The Institute for Colored Youth eventually moved to Delaware County and was renamed Cheyney University, becoming the first higher education institution for Black people.
Coppin is the namesake of Coppin State University, a historically Black college in Baltimore.
"Fanny Jackson Coppin dedicated her life to education, doing whatever was necessary to ensure that people from underserved communities and women had access to a high-quality education," Espinosa said. "She understood that education is the greatest tool in building a positive and productive life and this is a message that still rings true today."
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