The Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee was recently awarded a grant from the Northampton Education Foundation for a collaborative project with three Northampton elementary schools, Leeds, Jackson Street, and R.K. Finn Ryan Road. The six-month project educated students about the history and legacy of Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist movement, and social activism in 19th-century Florence through a walking tour and accompanying reading materials. Five fifth grade teachers, teacher aides, ten parents, and 110 students participated in the walking tours, which took place in late May and early June 2016.
Over the course of the project, students became more aware of the history of their town and neighborhoods. Most students said they had driven by the Sojourner Truth statue but didn’t know anything about her before the project. The teachers involved in the project also learned more about Sojourner Truth and local history and were encouraged to incorporate local history into their classroom teaching in future years.
“Our committee is excited about the recent Northampton Education Foundation project as it allows the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee the opportunity with work with younger students in the community,” said Terry O’Toole, committee chair. “While our annual scholarships and other grants target older/high school students, we feel that it is important to share Sojourner Truth’s story with local elementary school students. This project also represents the first of three possible collaborations with Northampton public elementary schools. We’re particularly grateful to NEF, and look forward to continuing the project with students and teachers at Jackson Street, Leeds, Bridge Street, and Ryan Road elementary schools”
The results of this project will be shared with the Northampton schools involved in this project, as well as other schools that wish to pursue a similar project. This was the first year of funding for this project from the Northampton Education Foundation. An expansion to another fifth grade and another elementary school, as well as a project with high school teachers, is in the planning stage for next year.