Jess Burnquist Is Our Hero. Let's GoFundHer.


That's Jess! In the middle! I KNOW HER! (Image Source)

Y'all, I have some great news! Wonderful news! Outstanding news!

It is also unsurprising news! Well-earned news! Richly deserved news!

Smarty Mommies' own alumnae, Jess Burnquist, has been chosen to participate in this summer's Freedom Writers Teacher Institute!

You may think you don't know what this means, but you do. Let me refresh your memory.

Remember the 2007 movie Freedom Writers starring Hilary Swank? The one about the dedicated, talented teacher, Erin Gruwell, whose creativity and tireless hard work as a teacher inspires her underprivileged, at-risk students to find tolerance, understanding, and the tenacity to pursue education with passion? The one based on the real-life Erin Gruwell's fantastic memoir The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them?

That one?

This one! (Image Source)

The Freedom Writers Teacher Institute is a week-long training program led by Erin Gruwell in Long Beach, California, and it promises to be amazing. In Jess's words:

"The Institute is designed as professional development to train and support educators of at-risk and vulnerable students and has the long term strategy of retaining dedicated teachers.

During the Institute, educators participate in and learn a pedagogical framework (Freedom Writers Methodology) through which they can engage students in the learning process, enlighten them intellectually, and empower them to achieve academic and civic success."

I think this is something we can all get behind, yes? That teachers, through the Freedom Writers Methodology, help to educate our most deserving and least served students in the power of learning and the efficacy of civic engagement.

This is something we desperately want and need in our nation, and this program provides it. But it provides it at a cost.

Specifically, it provides it at a cost of $5,000 that covers "5 days of workshops led by Erin Gruwell, curriculum, hotel, meals, and year-round support as a Freedom Writer Teacher."

Even more specifically, it provides them for our Jess, a public school teacher and writer whose son is off to college in the fall and whose daughter is headed to college in 2 years and for whom $5,000 is a big sacrifice.

And, people, Jess already sacrifices in the name of dedicated, careful, thoughtful teaching. She is the magical teacher you had (or wished you had) when you were in school. You know the one. The one who would turn her classroom into a warren of overturned desk "trenches," complete with recorded wartime sound-effects to enrich your experience of reading World War I poets. The one who comes early and stays late to form lasting and warm relationships with her students. The one who spends her weekends grading stacks of essays and then churning out her own writing to impart her own wisdom and ingenuity to other teachers. The one who never stops thinking about what it takes to be the exact teachers her students most need.

You know that one.

This one!

Her students are lucky to grow under her mentorship. Her readers are lucky to glean from her educational experience and luxuriate in her poetry and creative prose. And the Freedom Writer Teacher Institute is lucky to call her a participant.

Now we just have to get her there.

So, please, Smarty Readers. Please go to Jess's GoFundMe page and donate your dollars as generously as she donates her time, energy, heart, intellect, and, yes, dollars to the practice of excellent teaching. She richly deserves this opportunity to develop professionally, and her students and readers would be fortunate to benefit from her experience as a Freedom Writer Teacher.

Go here: GoFundMe Jess Burnquist. Give big. Do good with your dollars so that Jess can do great with her students.