Idealistic Erin Gruwell (Hillary Swank), fresh out of teaching college, was not to be deterred. The perky cheerleader had already decided that she was going to make a difference in the lives of her students. Even the remarks of her staid conservative superior, Margaret Vail (Imelda Staunton) describing the kids of room 203 cannot dampen her drive and enthusiasm.
Erin quickly learns that these kids are the 'untouchables:' poverty-ridden, gang-infested, drug-addicted, family members incarcerated and hopeless. Attempting to get them books that they will be interested in, she realizes that the school was wherehousing them, saying that they were being educated, but only barely tolerating them. As the junior English teacher says, 'The best thing about them is that there are fewer and fewer by the time they get to junior and senior year.'
Like the external society, the teens have segregated themselves into sections in the classroom, ignoring their eager teacher who tries as she might cannot seem to get through to them. It's not until one of her students, Eva (April Hernandez)
Despite the arguments of her father (Scott Glenn) and her husband Scott (Patrick Dempsey), she takes not one but two part time jobs to earn extra money so that she, herself, can personally buy the books for her kids to read.
Introducing them to the fact that racial hatred and prejudice creates problems universally and that they are not alone, Erin gives each of them journals to record their own private struggles and gives them the freedom to write without being graded or judged. Their outpourings and their reaction to The Diary of Anne Frank overwhelms her as she wrangles a special trip to the Museum of Tolerance. Treating the kids as if each of them mattered,
The camaraderie between the kids and Erin continues to grow as her own marriage falls apart. When you are committed to something there is always a sacrifice on some level. Nothing comes easy.
Even with the success of her kids, Erin must still prove her worth before the board when the class asks to have her continue their journey with them.
Take some tissues, you're going to need it. Buy when it comes out on DVD. It's a keeper.