Erin Gruwell

Erin Gruwell

Educator and Founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation

Speaker Categories: Education | Actors/Entertainers | Women, Children & Family Speakers | Inspirational Women | Inspirational Women | Education | Headliners - Motivation | Inspiring Lives

Travels From: CA, United States.

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Erin Gruwell Bio
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Educator and Founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation

Erin Gruwell is an award-winning teacher whose reputation for her absolute commitment to the future of education is legendary. Her impact for change runs deep. So deep, in fact, that her story was told in a hit Hollywood movie. In January 2007, Paramount Pictures released Freedom Writers, starring two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Erin. The film, based on The Freedom Writers Diary, was a New York Times bestseller that chronicled Erin’s extraordinary journey with 150 high school students who had been written off by the education system.  

Inspired by Anne Frank, Erin and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. They dubbed themselves the ―Freedom Writers‖ –in homage to civil rights activists The Freedom Riders—and published a book.  Through poignant student entries and Erin’s narrative text, the book records their ―eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding 

Impact 

By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions, and ultimately re-chart their futures. With Erin’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers, and citizens for change. 

Currently 

Although Erin was credited with giving her students a second chance, it was she who changed the most during her time with them at Wilson High School. She decided to channel her experiences in the classroom toward a broader cause, and so she founded the Freedom Writers Foundation.  Erin currently teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. Recently, Erin’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Proceeds from the sale of all books directly fund the Freedom Writers Foundation. Teach With Your Heart, Erin’s powerful memoir and call to arms, was published in 2007.

Media 

Erin and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters’ The View, and Good Morning America, to name a few. Their story has earned them dozens of awards, including the Spirit of Anne Frank Award.  

Education 

Erin 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.

Become The Catalyst For Change

Erin Gruwell helped 150 students - many of whom were written off by the education system - to use the power of education to write a book, graduate from high school and attend college. In this compelling keynote, Gruwell tells the story of this inspiring journey - from poverty and despair to hope and promise - with stops at Anne Frank's House and Auschwitz and then on to Capitol Hill and Congress. Erin challenged her students to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problems of poverty, racism, violence. How can we all become role models for tolerance, respect, and cooperation? Erin Gruwell teaches us all how we can become "Catalysts for Change."

Teaching Tolerance

The hit movie Freedom Writers was the film based on Erin's experiences as an English teacher to inner-city Los Angeles youth.. In a scene from the movie, a Latino student is drawing a derogatory picture of a fellow black student. Intercepting the racially charged note, Gruwell is reminded of a caricature she had seen from the Museum of Tolerance—Holocaust propaganda of a Jew made to look like a rat. Drawing parallels between her students’ ignorance and the prejudice of the Nazis, Gruwell captured the attention of her class by pointing out the seriousness of their actions and the implications that can follow. In this through-provoking keynote, Gruwell explores the various situations that have led us towards conflict in the past and how tolerance and understanding could have prevented such negative outcomes. A true proponent that one person can make an extraordinary difference, Gruwell inspires us all to embrace the concept of changing lives by teaching tolerance.

Nurturing the Leader Within

Filled with anecdotes from teachers across the country, Gruwell’s presentation proves that the methodology she has developed is not location-specific, but can be implemented in all types of schools and communities. In "Nurturing the Leader Within," Erin explores her personal journey and her students' transformations from disgruntled high school students to leaders and activists, illustrating that everyone has the power to embrace change and become a leader in their own community.

  • The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
    The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them Purchase Book
  • Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers
    Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers Purchase Book
  • The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide
    The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide Purchase Book

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Recent Books

  • The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
    The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them Purchase Book
  • Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers
    Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers Purchase Book

Testimonials

  • Erin Gruwell absolutely brought the house down. The feedback was universally positive, starting with a standing ovation after the introduction of her and followed by a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks. I’d say it was a success.


    Québec English School Boards Association
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