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77 pages 2 hours read

Erin Gruwell and Freedom Writers

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1999

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Sophomore YearChapter Summaries & Analyses

Sophomore Year—Fall 1995 Summary: "Ms. Gruwell"

Ms. Gruwell recalls how, the year prior, she was frustrated by the reactions of some of her fellow teachers to her teaching methods: “According to them, I was too enthusiastic, too preppy, and my teaching style was too unorthodox” (47). She feels that she, like her students, was being labeled and stereotyped. By the end of the year, she decides not to return to Wilson. She interviews at another school and is offered a job.

When she tells Wilson’s principal she is leaving, he asks her if she had considered how disappointed her students would be to not see her in their sophomore English class. She realizes she had been hypocritically labeling “all” of the teachers as against her, when some were supportive. She decides to stay at Wilson and continue to teach her students. She still believes that her students, like Sharaud, who graduated in June, can turn their lives around, despite the fact that for some, “death seems more real than a diploma” (49).

She decides to focus this year’s curriculum on tolerance and teens in crisis. The students will read The Wave by Todd Strasser, Night by Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo, focusing on the two diaries.

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