Heart on Fire: The story of Susan B. Anthony

Students in the Adult Basic Education (ABE) class at Second Start in Concord recently read the book Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President as part of their ongoing Connections series. They used this book to prepare for their High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) exam. Students preparing for the HiSET are required to take subject area tests in social studies, English, mathematics, science, and writing. During this Connections session, students participated in a mock voting activity, acted out scenes, and participated in a group reading and discussion of the book. So how can Susan B. Anthony help with HiSET preparation and civic engagement? We asked the Connections facilitator, classroom teacher, and two students to share their perspectives on that question. 

Susan Bubp, Connections facilitator:
“My aim in preparing for the discussion and activities for Heart On Fire was to make history come alive for the class. Rather than making history dry and academic, I wanted them to feel what it was like not to be able to participate in an election, to know what it was like to be a woman in the 19th century, and to understand more about the amazing character and background story of Susan B. Anthony. I think students came away with the feeling that the right to vote is not to be taken for granted, and with any luck, they will vote regularly in future elections. I also think they’ll have a greater understanding of mid-19th century events in the U.S., helping them be successful in the social studies section of the HiSET exam.”

Charlotte Chodosh, ABE teacher:
“We used the book Heart On Fire to make a connection with history and to the present day. Having Connections come in to do a special presentation about Susan B. Anthony was enjoyable and engaging. Not only did it allow the students to actively participate in their learning, through reader’s acting theater, it also gave them a real understanding of the discrimination against women and not being able to vote. With the upcoming election, our hope is that the students will have more of an appreciation for the right to vote and the election process.”

James Polito, ABE student:
“One of the reasons we read Heart on Fire was to honor the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It has been a hundred years since it was passed. We had pictures taken as we read and then acted out scenes in the book with each of us playing the part of someone in the book. It was a good day, and I learned a lot about Susan B. Anthony and women’s rights.”

Diana Solis, ABE student:
“I really enjoyed reading about Susan B. Anthony in Heart on Fire. We learned she was the first female to register and vote when it wasn’t legal for women to do, and that she was arrested and found guilty but never stopped fighting for women’s rights. It made me appreciate how far we’ve come and the women who have fought for what we have now. This made me want to share with my six-year-old daughter that many years ago women didn’t have the rights that we do now, and how good it is to be living in this day and age and country. It teaches us to stand for what we believe and step out of our comfort zone to make a difference.”

To learn more about the Connections program, visit www.nhhumanities.org/connections.