This Freedom Writer describes his nervousness at having to teach on the first day of school. The last time he was in this school, he explains, he was condemned for bringing a pistol to school. He felt that educators were never there to help him when he truly needed their help, but only punished and judged him. Abandoned by his own government, he felt that he had the right to protect himself.
This Freedom Writer has not used his negative experience with school and punishment to give up on education. On the contrary, he has drawn from these episodes a desire to be a better educator himself, capable of empathizing directly with children who live in a world of violence.
Now a seasoned teacher, he has learned to love his job because he teaches students who are just like he used to be. He considers the struggles he now faces with his students a kind of poetic justice. He believes that, while he cannot solve everyone’s problems, he can show them the right path and give them the tools to solve them themselves. He has successfully helped below-average students reach advanced levels and, every year, feels that they have become his own children. Year after year, he trusts that tough times do not last, but that tough people do, and that he can give his students the strength necessary to overcome their obstacles.
In the same way that the Freedom Writers became a family for each other, this former student wants to establish family-like links with his students, so that he can serve not only as their teacher, but as a mentor and source of emotional support. He does not intend to solve students’ problems outside of school but, instead, to empower them so that they can confront them on their own, making informed choices about how best to behave, in the same way that Ms. Gruwell inspired her students to become better citizens.