Hilary Swank plays the role of Erin Gruwell, a first-time freshmen english teacher at Wilson High School, located in Long Beach, California. She abandons her sure-fire career as a lawyer, encouraged by her successful attorney dad Steve (Scott Glenn), Gruwell takes over a class of hard-case students who at first ignore and ridicule her.
On top of that her colleagues think that teaching these kids is a waste of time, and every day mock her for that reason. Gruwell attempts to teach the kids about Anne Frank, and Homer: The Odyssey, but in doing so she is ridiculed and disrespected.
That doesn't scare her away; she is determined to turn these kids' lives around.
Over time she manages to distribute writing journals for her students. The sole purpose of these diaries were to write about anything they wanted to every single day and not be graded, solely to express themselves and keep occupied.
Gruwell, as a reward for all her students' hard work, had Anne Franks' friend, and protector come and visit the class, and tell them of her experiences.
By the end of their sophomore year, all the which they have written in, Gruwell manages to convert the kids' journal entries into a book, with hopes of publication, which she calls " The Freedom Writers Diary."
There are a few new faces in the in the film, such as April Lee Hernandez, as gang girl Eva, and Deance Wyatt as nasty class clown.