Despite many members of the school staff’s opposition to Ms. Gruwell staying with her students yet another year, she receives support from the principal, Dr. Cohn, and the president of the Board of Education, Karin Polacheck, to keep on teaching the Freedom Writers. Dr. Cohn and Ms. Polacheck even accompany the students on their trip to Washington, D. C.
The support of high-status members of the education system demonstrates that people who have enough critical distance from the Freedom Writers are able to recognize their achievements as truly extraordinary.
Erin’s focus this year is on the future. She wants all of her students to go to college and think about their future career plans. Since many of these students come from families where no one has gone to college, Erin knows she has to find ways to help them with the SATs, college applications, and funding. She also plans on taking them on college tours and making them meet with specialists who could give them information about financial aid. She does not want them to feel overwhelmed by this difficult process.
Ms. Gruwell is conscious of the fact that one’s family situation—and one’s environment in general—can affect one’s views about one’s own future. Indeed, in the absence of adults who have attended college themselves, the mere idea of going to college can seem inconceivable, and the lengthy admission process daunting. Ms. Gruwell concludes that she will need to give her students specific guidance.
Erin comes up with the idea of pairing her graduate students at National University with a couple of her high school students, so that the graduate students might see them as case studies and, in turn, give them crucial information about higher education. Ms. Gruwell also helped create a non-profit organization to which people can donate to help finance the students’ tuition—the greatest obstacle most of them face.
Ms. Gruwell’s strategies often involve learning by connecting with others. Here she applies this philosophy trusting that the educational experience can benefit both sides involved: the students receiving information and those giving it. Ms. Gruwell also does not let her ideals blind her to practical issues such as the need for financial aid.