2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Laureate; Professor at the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and Biological Sciences of Columbia University
An incredible speaker always dedicated to the future of education. Speaker Erin Gruwell encourages others to be excellent college students, authors, and individuals who want to change the world. Organizations book Erin Gruwell to learn how to teach tolerance and become a catalyst for change.
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Education speaker Erin Gruwell has garnered an enviable reputation among her peers, thanks to her ongoing dedication to the future of education. Her influence as a change agent drew the attention of Hollywood, which produced the 2007 film Freedom Writers. The film starred Hilary Swank, a two-time Oscar winner who played Erin. It talks about Erin and her 150 high school students, who named themselves Freedom Writers. They did so to celebrate the Freedom Riders, a group of Civil Rights activists.
Erin profoundly impacted her students’ lives by promoting an educational philosophy that respected and encouraged diversity. Rethinking their preconceived notions about themselves and others, and their day-to-day choices, were things Erin urged her students to do. In fact, she encouraged them to be excellent college students, authors, and individuals who wanted to change the world.
The Freedom Writers Diary documents their collective journey through heartfelt student writings and Erin’s narrative. It is the story of their transformational journey against intolerance and misunderstanding. There is also a documentary about this called Freedom Writers: Stories from an Undeclared War.
Reading Gruwell’s Teach With Your Heart and the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide sheds light on how she taught in Room 203.
Many TV shows have had speaker Erin Gruwell and her students as guests. The shows include Prime Time Live, Oprah, Good Morning America, as well as Barbara Walters’ The View. Furthermore, Erin and her students have obtained several awards, including the Spirit of Anne Frank Award. The Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell worked with Scholastic to develop On the Record, a cutting-edge program on reading and writing. On the Record employs the Freedom Writer Methodologies to help students develop their reading and writing skills and overall life skills and well-being.
In a scene from the hit movie Freedom Writers, a film based on Erin Gruwell’s experiences as an English teacher to inner-city Los Angeles youth, a Latino student is drawing a derogatory picture of a fellow black student. Intercepting the racial correspondence, 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 captures the attention of her class by pointing out the seriousness of their actions and the implications that can follow.
In a through-provoking presentation, Gruwell explores the very 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.
Erin Gruwell helped 150 of her 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 her inspiring presentation, Gruwell tells the story of this extraordinary 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.
She challenged her students to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problems of poverty, racism, and violence. Encouraging tolerance, respect, and cooperation, Gruwell teaches us all how we can become role models and "Catalysts for Change."
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