Massachusetts teacher Carrie LaPierre led her students through a restorative justice project over 300 years after the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
An eighth grade class in Massachusetts, led by their teacher Carrie LaPierre, did their homework to make sure that Johnson, who, for some reason, was not exonerated like a host of other women accused of witchcraft, finally had her name cleared.
According to a 1692 document, Johnson was "perswaded her to be a witch" by another woman, Martha Carrier, who said "Should be Saved if she would be a witch.” For her crimes, she was sentenced to death at the age of 22, but was ultimately given a reprieve. Still, her name was never cleared, and LaPierre wanted to teach her students how to be civically engaged.
After three hard years of petitioning and navigating the tricky ropes of bureaucracy, Johnson’s name was finally cleared. State Senator Diana DiZoglio sponsored an amendment adding Jonson’s name to an existing resolution that exonerates others accused of witchcraft.
While LaPierre is glad her students got to learn about local history and the mechanics of the political machine, she believes that there are other lessons her students will carry with them for a lifetime. "The long-lasting lessons are probably more important: Standing up for justice, advocating for those who cannot do so for themselves, recognizing that their voices have power in the community and the world, and understanding that persistence is necessary to achieve their goals,” LaPierre told CNN.
As for what cause LaPierre’s students will fight for next, one thing is for sure: it is not going to be witches, as her class just exonerated the last of the accused witches from the Salem Witch Trials centuries ago.