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Cat Wayland Education Exchange
  Hosted by Catherine Wayland
  August 2007

Dear IF readers, Parents and Educators,

As I journey to edit this magazine, I am finishing a Masters in Education to become a reading/writing specialist for middle school. There is a book that became a movie, “The Freedom Writers” that displays diary writing of high school students from Rm 302, Long Beach, California. At the time, the streets of California were filled with racial tensions after the Rodney King riots. Inside the classroom their teacher, Erin Gruwell believed in hope, change and her student’s magic. These students wrote out their frustrations, wrote out their fears and wrote out their feelings. Their words became a powerful book of survival. I am currently using this book in my Rm 409, in an inner city school in New York City. My students are confronted daily with the same violence and poverty that the original Freedom Writers faced. But they find such a connection to the voices in the diary entries they read and listen to. My students are amazed that anyone cared to spend the money to publish these words. The fact of a book, has become their foundation of hope that someone might ever read their stories as well.

I was once a high school student that didn’t believe in hope or that someone believed in me. A knock came on my door one day, and the headmistress of the boarding school (where I lived hundreds of miles from anyone called family) walked in carrying a book. She handed me the book, and said, “I bought this book for you, thinking that you had something worthwhile to write.” Of course, I shrugged with apathy. But when that door closed again, I opened the book and began to write. I wrote for hours and days and weeks until I needed another book. I kept buying books and writing. Then I started to write stories, and magazine articles. I went on to get a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature and work at Simon & Schuster and edit some of the great management books of the 1990s under a Pulitzer Prize winning Editor. Today I write and edit for my students and International Family Magazine.

Go to and type in “Freedom Writer’s Diaries” for your child, or student. Erin Gruwell has also written a book on her teaching methodologies. There are teacher’s editions for the classroom. Go to and read all about the Freedom Writers.

Buy someone the “Freedom Writer’s Diaries” and a journal today. Give someone their own magic.

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