Last December, Erin Gruwell visited the Worsely School at the Fresno Juvenile Campus for the holidays. The event was orchestrated by Bill Feaver, who was in the very first group of Freedom Writer Teachers in 2006. Bill’s facility includes kids from 13-18 years of age who are typically held for six months or less.
During Erin’s visit, she spoke to three classes of boys and girls. A whole class was designated for students with substance abuse problems. She spoke to the kids as individuals and listened to them discuss their lives and the struggles they faced. On their way out, Gruwell gave each student a hug, a kind gesture rarely observed at juvenile facilities.
Bill has used the Freedom Writers Methodology and curriculum in his classes at the juvenile hall for nearly ten years and realizes the significance of bringing literacy to life. He has conducted many video chats with original Freedom Writers that have inspired his students who come from varied backgrounds. The visit from Erin was extremely powerful, according to Bill. “Erin is a teacher of hope,” he explained. “Hope is important for these students. They need it just to survive.”