Annette Januzzi Wick celebrates our 50th episode by welcoming Erin Gruwell, teacher, writer and author, renowned for her work in the founding of The Freedom Writers.
As a young language arts teacher in Long Beach California, Erin was assigned to work with the “Unteachables.” Room 203 became well-known through the Freedom Writers’ Diary, a book and movie which showcased Ms. Gruwell’s perseverance and ability to create community for and with those considered at-risk. Many students went on to graduate, attend college, and are now serving as part of the Freedom Writers Foundation, dedicated to teaching social justice in the schools.
Listeners will learn of the origin of the Freedom Writers, how the L.A. riots and her father, a civil rights supporter through his passion for baseball, motivated her to begin this journey.
Ms. Gruwell reads from student diaries, as well as her own, to share the gifts and challenges she met inside of and outside of the classroom. She speaks candidly about her lack of balance while pursuing this path, and how she now helps educators not only thrive in the classroom, but outside as well.
Erin also shares stories about her new writings and the success of the Freedom Writers in communities other than education, drawing a parallel to the partnership of WWFC and Project Connect (read more). In the end, Erin states, she wrote and exposed her life through writing, modeling for her students what she wanted them to do.
On student proclaimed, “If Ms. G says we’re are going to the moon, then someone better call NASA.” NASA has been on alert ever since.
Learn more about the Freedom Writers by visting their website: www.FreedomWritersFoundation.org.
Podcast music provided by Beth Lodge-Rigal, site-owner: WWFC Bloomington, Indiana. Selections include: One Safe Place, Writing on the Wall, and Kaleidoscopic View. Her music can be found by visiting cdbaby.com.
(Pictured above: Annette Januzzi Wick, with Erin Gruwell. Below: Erin, with New Media Circle co-creators Phebe Beiser, Jenny Stanton and Annette Wick.)