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Freedom Writer Teachers to share hopeful stories of teaching students

August 26, 2009
MEDIA CONTACT: Tory Olson, 515-271-1834, tory.olson@drake.edu

Three authors will discuss their new book of stories about teaching students and hope for changing the world at Drake University on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

The Freedom Writer Teachers will make a presentation at 7:30 p.m. in room 336 of the Harmon Fine Arts Center at 25th Street and Carpenter Avenue. The talk is part of Drake's Writers and Critics Series, which is free and open to the public. 

The group consists of teachers from the Freedom Writers Foundation: Emily Bollinger, Cody Cochran and Katie Williams. This August, Random House published their stories in "Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers."

The book was written in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller, "The Freedom Writers Diary,” and is a compilation of 150 educators telling their stories of teaching students in and out of the traditional classrooms in hopes of changing the world. 

Bollinger, a native of Omaha, earned degrees in English and Secondary Education and a master's degree in urban education from Drake. She recently started her fifth year of teaching at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. Bollinger was a participant in the 2008 Freedom Writers Institute, and because of her success in the classroom, has spoken to district, collegiate, and community groups.

Cochran of Mount Ayr, Iowa, graduated from Buena Vista University with a degree in history education. He taught at Woodward Academy in central Iowa and spent five years working with adjudicated males from all over the United States and the British Virgin Islands. Cochran was chosen to receive the student-nominated “My Favorite Teacher” award from a local news affiliate. He has been part of the Freedom Writers Foundation since 2007. 

Williams earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Florida, and taught for six years at high schools in Florida and California before moving to Des Moines. She is pursuing a master's degree from Drake. Williams has been involved with the Freedom Writers Foundation since 2005 and contributed to the Freedom Writers Diary Teachers' Guide.

The Writers and Critics Series, which is sponsored by Drake's English Department and its Center for the Humanities, will continue throughout the year; the next presentation will be a reading by novelist and playwright Zakes Mda at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15. The event will be held in the Cowles Library Reading Room, 28th Street and University Avenue. 

For a complete list of upcoming events in the series, visit the Web site

For more information on the series, contact Jennifer Perrine at 515-271-4161 or Jennifer.perrine@drake.edu.