The heart behind the Freedom Writers, Erin Gruwell, visited the Kern High School District to share her stories of trials and tribulations she has encountered as an educator. The Workforce Academy and Alternative Education Department invited Gruwell to speak to teachers at Bakersfield High School’s Harvey Auditorium on Monday, August 13. Gruwell inspired kids deemed “unteachable.”
The 2007 film “Freedom Writers” starring Hilary Swank, tells the story of Gruwell’s time teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach. Gruwell influenced at-risk kids who lived a life around gang violence, abuse and teenage pregnancy. She encouraged them to want to learn, read, and write by giving them a pen and notebook. In their journals, Gruwell’s students told and shared their stories and learned they were not alone in their challenges. These 150 students known as the ‘Freedom Writers’ graduated in 1998.
Gruwell has since started the Freedom Writers Foundation. Its goal is to help other educators mirror Gruwell and the Freedom Writers’ accomplishments.
“Erin Gruwell represents for us the hope we have for the students we serve in our community, many of them at-risk for a multitude of reasons. Erin also represents the hope we have for ourselves as educators and partners in developing citizens of strong character and resilience. Erin represents the big dreams we have for our schools, and for the current and future families we serve and will serve. We want to get it right like she did. We want to be real as she is real. We want to learn how to do small things with great love and have faith that our efforts will not be in vain. Erin’s message revives us. It reminds us what’s truly important.”
–Maikel Bassilious, Dean of Workforce Charter Academy