Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) has become a teacher for idealist reasons, inspired by her father, Steve (Scott Glenn) and supported by her husband, Scott (Patrick Dempsey). However, when she starts teaching in a rough school that has been involved in some kind of integration type scheme around the time of the LA Riots in the early nineties, even they think she may be too far out of her depth. Still, she believes she can make a change in their lives, and the connection is the holocaust (which most of the class had not even heard of).
At first I thought: here’s another one of those films about a rough school where an inexperienced teacher uses unconventional methods to connect to her students much to the annoyance of other staff and school management. But wait; this one is a true story and it is really good. Hilary Swank is fabulous, but it is the way she pushes the students despite their anger and fear and bravado to be more and to have a future beyond the gangs and the streets. And hey, teachers? If you’re looking to teach students resilience and self-belief, this is a good text. Students love it. And they’re sick of Remember the Titans (even though that is also a really good film, I reckon).