Sessions

Erin Gruwell

Erin Gruwell is a teacher, an education activist, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students. She maintains a steadfast commitment to the future of education, and her impact as a change agent runs deep. By fostering an educational philosophy that values and promotes diversity, Gruwell transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions, and ultimately re-chart their futures. With Gruwell’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers, and catalysts for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers” -in homage to civil rights activists The Freedom Riders – and published a book. Inspired by Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic (who lived through war-torn Sarajevo), Erin and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Through poignant student entries and Erin’s narrative text, the book records their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” In early 2007, Teach With Your Heart, Erin’s powerful memoir and call to arms was published.

While Erin has been credited with giving her students a “second chance,” it was perhaps she who changed the most during her tenure at Wilson High School. She decided to channel her classroom experiences toward a broader cause, and today her impact as a teacher extends well beyond Room 203. Erin founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. Recently, Erin’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Proceeds from the sale of all books directly fund the Freedom Writers Foundation. Erin and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters’ The View, and Good Morning America, to name a few. Erin and the Freedom Writers have earned them dozens of awards including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award.

Erin is a graduate of the University of California Irvine, where she received the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials from California State University Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.

Brian Dinkins, Ed.D.

Brian Dinkins is an RCD Certified Master Trainer and president of the National Institute for Child Empowerment, an organization that provides parents and students in disenfranchised communities with training, mentoring and advocacy to increase access to college and careers.

Raised by a single mother in the inner city of Indianapolis, he didn’t perform well academically in high school. But with the support of teachers, coaches and mentors, he earned a B.A. from Purdue, where he played football for the Big Ten Champion Boilermakers. He just completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Ball State University. Brian has served as a teacher, coach and principal in urban settings at a traditional public school, two charter schools, and at a faith-based school. He currently teaches educational leadership on an adjunct basis at Marian University.

social emotional learning forum steph jensen innovative schools summit

Stephanie Jensen, MS, LPC

Steph Jensen, M.S., LPC is an award-winning author and international speaker recognized for her insight and understanding of relational aggression. She combines 15 years of practice in the fields of education and counseling with research, practical strategies and humor to address challenging behaviors and build positive relationships with kids. She has held positions as classroom teacher, education consultant and international speaker. She holds a master’s degree in clinical counseling, focusing her efforts on adolescent and family issues.
In recent years, Stephanie has applied her passion for adolescents to focus on the dynamics of relational aggression, social-emotional learning and positive behavior interventions. She is the author of Thrive in the Hive: Surviving the Girl’s World of Good and Bad Relationship Bee-haviors, Mom’s Choice Award-winning Princess Priscilla and the Bully-Bee Day, Princess Priscilla and the Mood Ring Rainbow and her latest Princess Priscilla and the Great Beezilla!

Social-Emotional Learning Forum Atlanta Pre-Conference Sessions

Pre-Conference Sessions for the Social-Emotional Learning Forum Atlanta will take place on June 15 – 16, 2022. The main Conference will begin on June 17th at 8:30 am.  Pre-Conference listing coming soon.

Social-Emotional Learning Forum
Atlanta Agenda