August 15, 2013

Todd Marshall
Director of Communications,
Marketing and Development
903.794.3651 ext. 1013

TISD Kicks Off Instructional Planning Week for Teachers with District-Wide Convocation Featuring Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers Foundation

Texarkana, TX – Texarkana Independent School District teachers and administrators will kick-off the 2013-14 school year with a special guest speaker. Erin Gruwell, educator and founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation will share her story and educational philosophy with TISD staff on Tuesday, August 20 from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. in the Sullivan Performing Arts Center & John Thomas Theatre, 3941 Summerhill Road.

A teacher, an education activist, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation, Gruwell created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students.

By fostering an educational philosophy that values and promotes diversity, Gruwell transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions, and ultimately re-chart their futures. With Gruwell’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers, and catalysts for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers” –in homage to civil rights activists The Freedom Riders—and published a book.

“We are thrilled that Mrs. Gruwell will be joining us for our annual instructional planning week,” shared Autumn Thomas, TISD Deputy Superintendent. “She brings to the table a real-word experience that many of our faculty can relate to and has developed innovative teaching methods that serve a variety of student needs and classroom settings. TISD believes that all students can succeed – NO EXCEPTIONS. The lessons learned from Ms. Gruwell’s story will enable our staff to further inspire students and give them confidence to reach their full potential.”

Inspired by Anne Frank, Gruwell and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Through poignant student entries and Gruwell’s narrative text, the book records their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” In early 2007, Teach With Your Heart, Gruwell’s powerful memoir and call to arms was published.

While she has been credited with giving her students a “second chance,” it was perhaps Gruwell who changed the most during her tenure at Wilson High School. She decided to channel her classroom experiences toward a broader cause, and today her impact as a teacher extends well beyond Room 203. Gruwell founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. Recently, Gruwell’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Proceeds from the sale of all books directly fund the Freedom Writers Foundation.

Gruwell and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters’ The View, and Good Morning America, to name a few. She and the Freedom Writers have earned dozens of awards including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award.

Gruwell is a graduate of the University of California Irvine, where she received the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials from California State University Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.

Following the presentation, Gruwell will be available to sign books for attendees from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Books will be available for purchase.

For more information contact TISD at 903.794.3651 ext. 1013.

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