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Podcast by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers

Podcast by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers
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Podcast by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers






#32 Empowered Women Empower Women

Erin speaks with educator and producer Melissa Berton, alongside two of her students, Maggie Brown and Mason Maxam. After learning about menstrual inequity in the developing world, Melissa and her class created an organization called The Pad Project and made a documentary about women in India overcoming the cultural stigma surrounding menstruation. Their documentary "Period. End of Sentence." went on to win Best Short Documentary at the 2019 Academy Awards, and has since sparked a global...


#31 How to Understand Young People and Their Stories

Today's episode features thought-provoking discussions on how to better understand young people and their stories. You'll hear exclusive content recorded of Erin Gruwell at one of our Freedom Writer Teacher Institutes, and learn how to peel back the layers on even the toughest kids so they can reach their full potential. When she was teaching in Room 203, people told Erin that it wasn't worth it; that she shouldn't even try; that her kids were "unteachable." But at the end of a four-year...


#30 After Columbine: How to Create a Culture of Connection in Schools

Today's episode features Darrell Scott, an ardent activist whose daughter Rachel was the first victim of the Columbine Massacre in 1999. Darrell talks about coping with immense loss, the powerful movement that was sparked by Rachel's diaries, and how educators and parents can create a culture of connection in their schools and communities. In light of the recent suicides of Parkland students and one victim's parent from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we know this is a...


#29 Rebuilding Rwanda: How to Heal After a Genocide

This episode features Erin's conversations with two survivors of the Rwandan genocide, Edith Umugiraneza and Issa Jean Marie Vianney. These courageous souls describe what it was like for them as teenagers to witness the mass execution of their friends and families. They recount in vivid detail how they ran for their lives, and reflect on the role of storytelling as they learned to heal in the aftermath. On the eve of the 25th memorial of the Rwandan genocide, we hope that these stories about...


#28 Jack Horner: How to Embrace Dyslexia

Today's show features Jack Horner, a world famous paleontologist and renowned voice on dyslexia. As someone with dyslexia himself, Jack helps us understand how the dyslexic brain works and what teachers can do to empower their dyslexic students. He takes us step by step through his personal journey, from his earliest dinosaur digs to the highest halls of academia, revealing how he has overcome adversity and found success despite his challenges. Show Notes Book a Freedom Writer for a Video...


#27 ¡Sí, Se Puede! - How to Start A Movement, with Dolores Huerta

Today's show features Erin's stirring conversation with the iconic activist and grassroots organizer Dolores Huerta. Dolores discusses how to organize and maintain a movement, improve the lives of others, and educate the next generation of activists. Just as Dolores encouraged farm workers to fight for change in their communities, we on the Freedom Writers Podcast wish to empower you to fight for change in the classroom. Show Notes Dolores Huerta Foundation Freedom...


#26 Parkland Students: Overcoming Tragedy With Empathy

Today's show features students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. These courageous survivors share their unique experiences from the shooting on February 14 2018, and reveal their greatest challenges while healing in the aftermath. Most importantly, they honor the lives that were lost in the tragedy and strive to humanize the issue in a way that can bridge divides, eradicate hate, and help us all lead with love. Show Notes "Shine", by Sawyer Garrity...


#25 A Celebration of Story: How Humans Communicate Meaning

This episode explores the ins and outs of storytelling, from discovering stories in your own life to fostering a creative space for ideas and artistic expression. Erin interviews movie producer and artist, Don Hahn, who takes us behind the scenes of the iconic animated Disney movies that he produced and shares his philosophies on story, character, and why storytelling is an essential part of being human. Whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, this captivating conversation...


#24 Homeboy Industries: How to Live With Extravagant Tenderness

Erin shares her interview with Father Greg Boyle, acclaimed author, speaker, and founder of Homeboy Industries. Their candid conversation sheds a light on common misconceptions about gang intervention and rehabilitation. Father Boyle's insights and stories will challenge your perceptions about what it means to serve those in the margins and help you understand the trauma that often precedes gang membership. It'll also assist you in dismantling messages of shame so that we can celebrate, not...


#23 How Holocaust Education is Changing the World

On this episode, we honor the legacy of "Schindler’s List" and the substantive work of the USC Shoah Foundation. Erin had the privilege of interviewing Holocaust survivor Elisabeth Mann; Marvin Levy, Steven Spielberg's award-winning publicist; and Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation. These three extraordinary guests help us explore Holocaust representation through testimony, education, and the media. And most importantly, they discuss the significance of...


**SPECIAL CONTENT - 25th Anniversary of "Schindler's List"

Episode 23 will be released December 3rd in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the film Schindler's List. In the meantime, please enjoy this teaser of Erin's conversations with three extraordinary guests: Holocaust survivor Elisabeth Mann; Marvin Levy, Steven Spielberg's head publicist; and Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation.


#22 Dr. Pedro Noguera: Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Erin had the privilege of interviewing renowned educator and activist Dr. Pedro Noguera. After serving as a public school teacher for many years, Dr. Noguera served as a professor of education at Berkeley, Harvard, and NYU before taking his current position as Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA. Dr. Noguera has written numerous books about equity in education and is frequently called upon to speak on the state of public schools. He is particularly interested in addressing the...


#21 "From Hate to Hope" - How a Neo-Nazi Became an Advocate for Equality

This episode examines the blight of bigotry and how it manifests in our communities. Recorded at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Erin interviews extremist-turned-activist Tim Zaal. For years, Tim was deeply involved in the white supremacist movement, even going so far as to commit acts of violence against his perceived "enemy." It wasn’t until years later that Tim recognized the toxicity of his mindset and made the decision to leave that lifestyle. Tim traces his transformation from...


**SPECIAL CONTENT - Standing Up Against Hate Crimes

In light of the recent attacks in the United States, we want to pause our regular podcast release schedule to reflect and pay homage to those whose lives were affected by these tragedies. Above all, we want to remind our listeners that we must not stand idly by in the midst of evil and injustice. We believe that everyone can stand up and speak up to promote acceptance and civil discourse. We believe we can all make a difference. Episode 1: Lest We Forget - Holocaust Survivor Renee Firestone...


#20 Sexual Abuse Survivors: "You Are Not Alone"

Erin Gruwell discusses the tragedy of sexual abuse with four courageous survivors. Current events in the United States have made this subject particularly prominent. In October 2017, survivors of sexual abuse came forward and started sharing their stories with the #MeToo movement. Most recently, the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite allegations of sexual assault has heightened our sense of urgency to speak up. We invite you to join us in protecting survivors...


#19 Cesar Millan: The Four Energies of Happiness

This episode digs deep into the role of positive energy in teaching and leadership. Cesar Millan, the renowned "Dog Whisperer," shares his story with Erin (and her dog, Beau!) about coming to America, working hard to develop his talents, and seeing his dreams come to fruition. He also teaches us important principles about dog and human psychology, and about his “four energies of happiness": calm, confidence, love, and joy. We hope that this discussion puts a smile on your face and ignites...


#18 Suicide Prevention: How to Create a Sphere of Safety

This episode covers the difficult subjects of mental illness and suicide, and the importance of awareness and prevention. First, Freedom Writer Teacher Mikael Aringer tells his story of hope and healing after a loved one attempted suicide. Then Erin Gruwell shares her conversation with legendary music producer, Bob Ezrin. Bob has produced some of the most iconic albums of the last forty years and now uses his platform to help those in need. His dedication to suicide awareness and prevention...


#17 Genocide Survivors: Why These Stories Must Be Told

Erin Gruwell shares a special live recording of a panel discussion about genocide. Co-moderated by Erin and historian Andrew Carroll, the panel features direct testimony of the Holocaust and the genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and South Sudan. Genocide awareness is a subject that has played a role in the Freedom Writers' education since the very beginning. By learning about war in far-off countries, Ms. G's students were able to make sense of the violence in their own neighborhoods....


#16 The Freedom Writers Diary: How the "Little Book That Could" Became a Bestseller

In this episode, Erin Gruwell takes you along the publishing journey of The Freedom Writers Diary. Through her conversations with Carol Schild Levy, the Freedom Writers' book agent, and Janet Hill Talbert, the editor of The Freedom Writers Diary, Erin gives you a glimpse behind the curtain at how her students' journal entries evolved into a book, and then a movie, and now -- a movement. Links and Resources: Questions, stories, reviews? Contact us: Buy...


#15 Sudanese Genocide: Trying to Make Sense of Senseless Violence

This episode explores how violence affects children, and the plight of refugees around the globe. First, Original Freedom Writer Bunni Sek explains what it was like being raised by survivors of the Cambodian genocide. Then Erin shares her conversation with Ger Duany, an actor and activist, and known to many as one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. When Ger was only 7 years old, his family fled his village in South Sudan and walked for three months to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Ger recounts in...