For Immediate Release
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Erin Gruwell, educator behind bestseller book and hit movie, brings inspirational message to GCU

Lakewood, N.J., March 14, 2012---Educator Erin Gruwell, the extraordinary teacher behind the New York Times bestseller "The Freedom Writers Diary" and the inspiration for the 2007 film "Freedom Writers," brings her story to Georgian Court University on Thursday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Gruwell will discuss Becoming a Catalyst for Change during her talk in the GCU Casino Auditorium on the university's historic Lakewood campus. The event is open to the public.

Ms. Gruwell, who was portrayed on the big screen by Oscar-winning actress Hillary Swank, drew worldwide attention for her work with students at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif. As a first-year teacher, she was told that her students were deemed unteachable. Still, she wanted to prove the education system wrong. Ms. Gruwell adapted her curriculum to truly engage her students, making them feel accepted and open to asking for help.

"In the beginning, I was pretty naive and did not know a lot about at-risk teens," she writes of her experience. "I knew I could see past color and culture, but I did not know how to get to the hearts of these young people. I gave them a pen and told them to share their experiences through the art of writing," she recalls in her memoir. "Through writing, my students discovered tolerance and respect for one another."

With their teacher's support, the students wrote to express their feelings. Soon, Ms. Gruwell's classroom was considered a safe haven and her students responded by shattering stereotypes and low expectations. In the years since, they've graduated from high school, enrolled in college and become citizens for change.

As founder of the Erin Gruwell Education Project and author of two additional books, Ms. Gruwell travels the country sharing her educational philosophy. Ms. Gruwell continues to impact students as she talks with educators about ways apply innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms.

General admission for Ms. Gruwell's presentation is $10 per person, and free to members of the GCU community. To purchase tickets, visit or call the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263.



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