Erin Gruwell | Educator and Founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation

Erin Gruwell

Educator and Founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation

Erin Gruwell
Featured Keynote Programs

Achieving the Impossible
Become a Catalyst for Change

Erin Gruwell found herself the teacher for a troubled group of students who had been
dubbed unteachable. The tale of how this first-year teacher encouraged these wayward inner
city kids to redirect their lives, forego rampant drugs and the violence that pervaded their
neighborhoods is the story recounted in the best-selling The Freedom Writers Diary. From
the stark reality of one seemingly innocuous event in the classroom, she sparked a chord in
the students that led the class to name themselves the Freedom Writers. Over the course of
a few months, Gruwell empowered the class to re-chart their future and go on to become
college students, published writers and citizens for change.
In a powerful presentation that leaves audiences cheering, Gruwell parlays her story into
ways the audience can improve their performance and productivity by asking "what can I do
to make a difference?" Gruwell speaks to the authenticity and stamina needed to fuel
change. An emotional connection with your work and life goals is a powerful force that can
produce an unstoppable vision against all odds. Gruwell speaks from her heart, customizing
every speech to her audience and shares:
● How even little events can fuel transformational change
● How to develop an environment of trust and communication
● Ways that individuals can become catalysts for change in their own lives
● How to harness your own personal power and determination to accomplish success
that others may not think is possible

Topic #3

Since teaching the original Freedom Writers in Room 203 at Wilson High School, Erin
Gruwell has worked diligently to create a methodology that will universally allow teachers
across the country, and across the globe, to empower their students in the same
life-changing ways that Gruwell was able to empower the Freedom Writers. Gruwell
developed a Teacher’s Guide based on her methodology, and also, through the Freedom
Writers Foundation, organizes institutes and symposiums for teachers and professionals in
related fields.
Gruwell provides an empowering presentation of how she has passed on her methodology to
other teachers, and how she has been able to do this so successfully. 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. Gruwell offers anecdotes and advice that show teachers then can implement
these ideas in their classrooms as well, and it shows students a different perspective on
what it is like to be a teacher.
This presentation can be adapted to two different styles. A workshop provides a more
hands-on experience of what Gruwell has learned from the teachers she has taught, and
how teachers can best apply that knowledge and her methodology. A traditional keynote
presentation allows Gruwell to speak with audiences of all sizes and truly emphasizes that
teachers have as much to learn as students do. Both the workshop and the keynote have a
unique emphasis on professional development, and are centered around a variety of
exercises that Gruwell and the Freedom Writers Foundation use at their institutes and
teacher trainings.

Teaching Tolerance

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

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Erin Gruwell

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