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Author and Educator Erin Gruwell Visits New York Mills

On January 8, New York Mills seventh through 12th-grade students were paid a visit by educator and New York Times bestselling author Erin Gruwell. Gruwell's book "The Freedom Writers Diary," was the basis for the 2007 movie "Freedom Writers" starring Hilary Swank as well as the 2019 documentary “Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart.”

"The Freedom Writers Diary" depicts the true story of Gruwell’s journey as a teacher in the 1990’s at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California; a racially divided community plagued with drugs, gang activity and violence that carried into the school. Gruwell used writing to help her students communicate with each other and empower them to tell their own personal stories, which in turn changed the course of their entire lives.

Today, Erin and some of her original “Freedom Writers” travel around the country to train educators on their Freedom Writers Methodology and bring hope by sharing their accounts of overcoming adversity through education.

The students listened to Gruwell tell stories of her former students and the important lessons she learned as their teacher and mentor. Students in grades five through six were also given the opportunity to attend a presentation by Gruwell at the Westmoreland Central School District.


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