DVD about Teacher Who Used Lessons Learned from the Holocaust to Inspire Inner-City Kids
When 23 year-old Erin Gruwell started teaching English at Wilson High in Long Beach, California in the fall of 1994, none of her freshman students expected her to last very long. Afterall, the rope of pearls around her neck was a sign that the fresh-faced newcomer was from the other side of the tracks.
Erin soon discovered was that her class was comprised of a collection of cast-offs, all underprivileged kids with special needs. Although they had already been labeled losers by an educational system which expected them to fail, the spunky newcomer decided that she would challenge that prevailing attitude. She began by having them read The Diary of a Young Girl, 13 year-old Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s heartbreaking autobiography about the her family’s ill-fated ordeal as they tried to hide from the Nazis.
Gruwell had settled on this moving memoir because Anne was about her class’ age when she started writing, and because she had managed to maintain an admirable optimism and sense of perseverance in far more dire circumstances than theirs. Lo and behold, the approach ultimately paid off, as the students were able to recognize parallels between Anne’s and their own predicaments.
And iInspired by her bravery, they eventually embarked on life-changing odysseys which led each to productive college careers. This true tale is the subject of Freedom Writers, a bio-pic based on the best-seller by both Gruwell and her success stories.
The film features Hilary Swank delivering an impressive performance as Erin along with a capable ensemble cast which includes Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey, along with a coterie of talented adolescent actors.
A timely testimonial to the human potential to triumph over any obstacle via a combination of courage and perseverance.