'Achieving the Impossible: Becoming a Catalyst for Change'

Teacher, educational activist, and founder of Freedom Writers Foundation, Erin Gruwell will speak at Luther College at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in Valders Hall of Science Room 206.

The lecture is open to the public with no charge for admission. Gruwell will be available after the lecture for discussion and a book signing. Gruwell will also be speaking to the teachers of Decorah High School and Middle School the morning of Feb. 20.

Inspired by Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic, who lived in war-torn Sarajevo, Gruwell fosters an educational philosophy that values and promotes diversity. She encourages her students to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider their daily decisions and ultimately re-chart their own futures. Many of her students have overcome hardships such as teen pregnancy, drugs and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers and catalysts for change. They published a book "The Freedom Writers Diary," in homage to the civil rights activists, The Freedom Riders. The book is the basis for the 2007 film "Freedom Writers," in which Gruwell is played by Hilary Swank.

As a teacher, Gruwell channeled her classroom experience toward a larger cause. She founded the Freedom Writers Foundation through which she teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. She has recently published a book about these methods, "The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide," and all proceeds from the book go directly to the Freedom Writers Foundation.

Gruwell and her students have appeared on several television shows including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters' The View, and Good Morning America. They have also won dozens of awards, including the Spirit of Anne Frank Award.

Gruwell is a graduate of University of California Irvine, where she was awarded the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award.  She received her masters degree and teaching credentials from California State University Long Beach where she was honored as a distinguished alumna by the School of Education.

There will be a screening of “Freedom Writers” in Valders Hall of Science Room 206 at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 13. This event is also open to the public with no charge for admission.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.