‘Freedom Writer’ Erin Gruwell visits Health Professions
Her story inspired movie starring Hilary Swank

e-Connections Post Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions
Health Professions students with Gruwell (near center, in red).

Erin Gruwell, the Southern California teacher whose work with at-risk teens inspired the movie “Freedom Writers,” spoke with students at Health Professions High School last Thursday.

Gruwell brought some of her original group of students with her to the North Land Park campus and spoke to the school about the importance of sharing your story.

In 1994, Gruwell began teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach. She was assigned to work with 150 at-risk students and strongly believed that through education they could overcome even the worst kinds of adversity.

Inspired by “The Diary of Ann Frank,” Gruwell encouraged her students to keep journals. Four years later all 150 students, dubbed the Freedom Writers, graduated from high school. The students’ book, “The Freedom Writers Diary,” became a best-seller and the subject of a movie.

To honor Gruwell’s connection to Ann Frank, the Health Professions choir last Thursday sang an English version of a Hebrew song.

Says Health Professions Principal Ann Curtis: “Erin was an inspiring speaker and her message was heard loud and clear by the students, staff and alumni who attended.”

These days, Gruwell teaches teachers around the country how to implement her lesson plans in their classrooms through the Freedom Writers Foundation, which she founded. Health Professions High School teachers have employed the lessons to great success.