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Teaching Hope

Podcast with author, educator, and "Freedom Writer," Erin Gruwell

Erin Gruwell Erin Gruwell

I met Erin Gruwell at a Women in Leadership Summit, and interviewed her in Long Beach, California in March 2006. This podcast remains one of the most popular on Total Picture Radio, and has been downloaded thousands of times. The feature film, based on Erin Gruwell's book "The Freedom Writers," was released in 2007, directed by Richard LaGravenese, starring Hilary Swank.

A new book Teaching Hope, Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell will be released soon.

Nothing could have prepared Erin Gruwell for her first day of teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach. Most of her students from this racially divided urban community were written off by the education system and deemed "unteachable." Gruwell leveraged the power of education to transform their lives, by teaching tolerance through literature and writing. Her tenacity and commitment to her students is chronicled in the published text The Freedom Writers Diary - How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. With her steadfast support, all 150 students shattered stereotypes, graduated from high school and pursued college careers.

About Erin Gruwell

Source: American Speakers Bureau

Gruwell and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters' The View, and CSPAN's Book TV. Her class has been chronicled in national newspapers, People magazine, and National Public Radio. A major film studio is currently developing this inspiring story into a feature film.

Freedom Writers Diary

Currently, Gruwell is the Founder and President of the Erin Gruwell Education Project, a non-profit organization that funds scholarships for disadvantaged students and promotes innovative teaching methods. Gruwell has won numerous awards including California Credential Analysts and Counselors' California Teacher of the Year Award, 100 Black Men Award in Education, the National Conference of Community, and Justice Human Relations Award. Gruwell and the Freedom Writers were also recipients of the Spirit of Anne Frank Award.

Most recently, she and her non-profit were awarded the 2004 Roger E. Joseph Prize from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, for their "distinctive contribution to human kind," and the 2004 John Anson Ford Award, given by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, honoring individuals and organizations that have significantly improved human relations in their community.

Gruwell is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, where she received the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Master's Degree and teaching credentials from California State University, Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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