Watson Chronicle

WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Student Opportunities and Student News

WSLs and SNCAE Host Film Festival; Skype with “Freedom Writer”

Saturday, November 01, 2014

WSLs and SNCAE Host Film Festival

In 1999, teacher Erin Gruwell and high school students from Long Beach, Calif. authored, The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. The book chronicles Gruwell’s work as a first-year teacher, trying to inspire low-achieving students and her ultimate success engaging them through the medium of writing.

The Freedom Writers Diary became a number oneNew York Times bestseller. Journalist Tracey Durning made a documentary about Gruwell for the ABC News program Primetime Live, and in 2007 Freedom Writers became a major motion picture, with Hillary Swank in the role of Gruwell.

Gruwell started teaching in 1994. Today, she runs the Freedom Writers Foundation, an organization she founded in 1997 to help teachers “engage, enlighten and empower at-risk students to reach their full potential.” Several of the original Freedom Writers have maintained ties to the foundation.  They frequently connect with students and educators on the front lines in their schools or via video chat to share their stories and discuss issues surrounding student engagement and achievement.

Watson Student Leaders and members of SNCAE arranged for a showing of Freedom Writers and a discussion with original Freedom Writer Melvin Logan on Nov. 10.  Logan shared his personal story of overcoming extreme adversity to achieve academic success and participated in an animated discussion with Watson pre-service teachers about strategies for successfully engaging students.

More than 30 students attended the event held at the Watson College. Participants said the film and discussion were powerful, emotional and inspirational.

For information on the Freedom Writers Foundation, visit www.freedomwritersfoundation.org