May 2019 marked an important milestone in the history of our school. The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to adopt a new school name as part of a larger re-branding strategy to more fully and accurately convey the value the school offers to students and families. As of July 1, Newton Montessori School will become Wellan Montessori School.
Why a Name Change?
The possibility of re-naming has been under discussion with faculty and trustees since 2015. When the school was founded in 2006 by a visionary group of parents, the name “Newton Montessori School” was a flatly descriptive moniker, accurate in the sense that we are a Montessori School located in Newton. The reality is that a significant number of the students in our close-knit community come from other areas of Greater Boston. We also saw a name change as an opportunity to better tell the story of who we are and what we value.
We decided early on that our name should be unique, and not a word commonly used today, so that it would be easy for families to find us. We also knew that the word should have historic meaning that relates to our mission and values. We researched many ancient words, and were fortunate to find a group of words that deeply resonated with us. All these words, coincidentally, started with the first syllable “wel”.
Watch the video (transcribed below) to learn about the words and what they mean to our community members:
Deanna Griffiths, Associate Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs:
As Newton Montessori School, we’ve inspired, challenged, and empowered students since 2006. We’ve followed each toddler, child, and adolescent on their own unique path. We honor motivation that comes from within, and we value the whole child—making sure that learning is well-rounded and healthy for the body and mind. We’ve done all of this as a strong, inclusive community. When we were looking for a new school name, we knew we needed one that meant all of that and more. It was a tall order, and I think we found it.
The word “Wellan” has historical meanings and associations that express our school values.
Source words for the name “Wellan” include:
wella (noun, Old High German)
weljian (verb, Old High German)
well (adjective, Modern English)
wel (adverb, Middle English)
well (noun, Modern English)
wellan (verb, Old English)
Becky Alukonis, Beginners Division Leader:
I’m excited about the word we chose, because it links to an ancient word that means “waves.”
wella (noun, Old High German): “wave”
When I think about waves, I think about an ebb and a flow, very much like child development. As we all know, it doesn’t go in one linear path. There’s a little bit forward, and a little bit back. I also like the word because it has an association with nature and water, which children just naturally gravitate to. Lastly, I’m excited about this word because it kind of has a sense of going with the flow, which is what we do as Montessori teachers. We follow the child.
Katie Hamill, Primary Division Leader:
weljian (verb, Old High German): “to want, to be inclined toward, to choose”
The word we chose is linked to an ancient word meaning, “to want, to be inclined toward, to choose.” Giving children the power to choose how they get their work done is a major part of the Montessori philosophy. We know that when students choose their own work, they’re able to concentrate longer on the learning task. It increases their motivation to take responsibility for their own learning. I love that the new name respects each child’s unique path.
Ruth Clifford, Specialist Division Leader and Curriculum Assistant:
Our new name has lots of positive associations including wellness and balance.
well (adjective, Modern English): “healthy and whole”
Those things are important to who we are as a school. Social-emotional learning is as important as academics. We focus on the whole child. The specials curriculum encourages students to become well-rounded. I’m glad the name suggests our value of well-being.
Caitlin Bowring, Curriculum Coordinator and Elementary/Middle School Division Leader:
The name we chose has even more meanings you’d recognize in Modern English.
wel (adverb, Middle English): “in a good manner, to a high standard”
Think of doing well, achieving to a high standard. We value academic excellence and we help children achieve it in a healthy way. Our students are able to progress at their own pace in our academically rigorous and individualized curriculum.
A well can also signify depth.
well (noun, Modern English): “a deep, plentiful source”
It’s about the depth of our learning, but also the depth of our ties to one another. Multi-year classrooms form close bonds between teachers, students, and families. We value and celebrate each other’s differences.
Beth Black, Head of School
The word we liked the most was “wellan.”
wellan (verb, Old English): “to cause to bubble up from a deep source”
What calls us to this work as Montessori educators is our sense of that deep, inner spirit of the child. That intrinsic motivation, eagerness to learn, and curiosity that we see “bubbling up” on a regular basis here at the school. Creativity, excitement, joy in learning, all lead to high achievement and personal satisfaction. So, a name like Wellan really resonates for us, and we’re excited to become Wellan Montessori School.
What Happens Next?
Students have already begun to celebrate with stories, cheering, and treats. Beginner and Primary students had story time with their Division Leaders, who read Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal. It was a great conversation starter about where names come from and what our new name means.
Elementary students met with the Head of School to talk about the new name and learn a school cheer.
On July 1, we will officially transition to the new name on our website and social media. On that date, you will find us at wellan.org. After summer break, there will be a new school sign to greet you!
Welcome to Wellan!