A Conversation with Erin Gruwell

Galloway, N.J. ─ Erin Gruwell, whose story as a teacher was the basis for the 2007 movie starring Hilary Swank, The Freedom Writers, will speak at Stockton University at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, in the Alton Auditorium. The event is open to the public.

Conversation with Erin Gruwell PosterGruwell is a former high school teacher who worked with a diverse group of at-risk students in Long Beach, California. She used innovative teaching methods to engage her students and help them overcome social and emotional challenges, including issues related to racism, violence and poverty.

“The work and passion of our faculty, in part, contributed toward Erin’s interest in visiting Stockton University,” said Valerie Hayes, chief officer for Diversity & Inclusion. “The School of Education continues its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by addressing the growing teacher shortage, specifically teachers of color.”

Professors Stacey Culleny and Meg White created the 2023 Future Teachers of Color Conference in direct response to several needs within the field of education. They hosted more than 200 9th and 10th grade students from the region at the May 2023 conference, supported by a Compass Fund award. 

Before the public event, Gruwell and Rob Falk, director of digital media at the Freedom Writers Foundation, will tour the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center. She also will deliver a workshop at the Multicultural Center for students, with a focus on Education majors. 

The event is co-sponsored by the School of Education, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Division of Student Affairs, the Stockton University Foundation, the Multicultural Center and the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center.

Stockton-affiliated individuals can use their Stockton credentials to stream the Freedom Writers (2007) movie or read The Freedom Writers Diary(1999).

From the FWF

The Freedom Writers Foundation Social-Emotional Curriculum is an educational program inspired by the experiences of Gruwell and her students, known as the "Freedom Writers."

The curriculum is designed to help students develop social and emotional skills, fostering a sense of belonging, empathy and resilience. It's particularly relevant for educators working with students in underprivileged and high-risk communities, where social and emotional support is often critical for academic success.

Here are some key aspects of the Freedom Writers Social-Emotional Curriculum:

Storytelling and Journaling: The program encourages students to write and share their personal stories, which can be a powerful tool for self-expression and reflection. Journaling is a key component of this process.

Empathy and Understanding: The curriculum emphasizes the importance of understanding and empathizing with others, regardless of their background or experiences. This is achieved through sharing stories and discussing prejudice and stereotypes.

Conflict Resolution: Teaching students conflict resolution skills helps them navigate challenging situations and build healthier relationships.

Building Resilience: Students learn to bounce back from adversity and develop resilience in difficult circumstances.

Cultural Awareness and Tolerance: The curriculum promotes an appreciation for cultural diversity and tolerance of differences, helping to break down barriers and promote unity among students.

Community Engagement: The program often includes community service projects, allowing students to connect with the community, give back and feel purposeful.