Young students learn about Sojourner Truth

  • Sojourner Truth —Wikimedia Commons photo

For the Gazette
Published: 7/11/2016 12:28:09 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After a successful first run this spring, a local nonprofit is planning to expand its program to teach elementary students about Sojourner Truth.

The program, which is run by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee, spanned six months in class and ended in a walking tour that took over a hundred students though Florence. Florence, where Sojourner Truth lived from 1843 to 1857, is home to a statue in her honor, and the Committee has led tour groups through the town for over a decade. Until this program, however, these have largely been high school and adult groups.

This year the curriculum and tours were set up specifically under a grant from the Northampton Education Foundation for Jackson Street, Bridge Street and R.K. Finn Ryan Road elementary schools. Students in fifth grade from each school were given maps of 19th century Florence and handouts related to Sojourner Truth before the tour.

To set up the new program with the elementary schools, the committee had to “customize the amount of information we’d share,” said committee chair Terry O’Toole, noting that the program had to be tailored to the age group to make sure that it was an “impactful” presentation.

“I have this sense of pride that we have this historical figure from our area,” he said. “Part of her story came through this area, and that’s important to share.”

Due to the success of the program’s pilot, O’Toole said he hopes to expand the program to Northampton’s fourth elementary school, Leeds, and to another project with high school teachers in 2017. 

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