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Freedom Writer to speak at BUT conference

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Manny Scott.

The Bermuda Union of Teachers has invited one of the original Freedom Writers — a group of teenagers disillusioned after the LA riots in 1992 — to be a keynote speaker at an education conference that starts today.

Manny Scott — who found hope through writing after the riots over the acquittal of four police officers filmed beating Rodney King — will speak at the BUT’s Annual Conference, at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium, along with Weston Kieschnick, from the International Centre for Leadership in Education.

BUT president Shannon James said in a press release: “We are very lucky this year to have two such distinguished keynote speakers. Mr Scott has a fascinating background and Weston has worked in every US state as well as 30 countries around the world.

“The Freedom Writers’ story is an inspirational one and I am sure we will learn a great deal and take a lot away from their talks and I am very much looking forward to hearing what they have to say.”

According to the Freedom Fighters Foundation, with help from their teacher Erin Gruwell, they formed a diverse family which they named the Freedom Writers after the 1960s civil rights activists, the Freedom Riders.

They wrote anonymous journal entries about the challenges they faced and eventually they were published in a book called Freedom Writers Diary, which became a New York Times bestseller as well as a hit movie, Freedom Writers.

After graduating, Mr Scott went on to form NK, which according to its website (http://www.mannyscott.com/) is “a consulting firm founded to prevent teen suicides, raise student achievement and teacher effectiveness; to improve parental involvement; and, to train speakers”.

The first ancillary conference event is today with a girls only film screening at the Liberty Theatre of Girl Rising, aimed at P5 to M3 girls.

This internationally acclaimed documentary follows the lives of young girls from around the world and their struggle to be educated.

Weekend events include a pre-conference talk, on Saturday, on Formative Assessment by Dr Veleka Gatling, from Virginia Beach Public Schools, and a screening of the film Race to Nowhere, followed by a cocktail reception and symposium at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, on Sunday.

Following the film screening there will be a question-and-answer session involving teachers and officials from the Ministry of Education. The event starts at 3pm and is open to the public, the cost is $25. For more information, contact Andrea Issac at aisaac@moed.bm.

Mr Scott will speak next Monday at 9.30am at the Ruth Seaton James Centre and Mr Kieschnick will speak on Tuesday at 9.15am.

Mr Scott will also speak at a community event on Monday, from 6pm to 7.30pm at the Ruth Seaton James Centre which is open to the public.

Other conference speakers include Kenneth Hardy, who is being co-sponsored by the Family Centre, and who will speak at 6pm on Tuesday, at the Ruth Seaton James Centre. This event is open to the public and is free.

Margaret Searle, who is being co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, will be facilitating workshops on Monday and Tuesday on “Causes and Cures of Academic and Behaviour Problems” and Monica Neagoy, who is being sponsored by the Bermuda Educator’s Council, will host several mathematics workshops.

Mr James added: “With the speakers, the movie and the workshops, we have put together a very exciting package that I am sure will help educate not just our educators but the wider public as well.”

About the speakers:

Manny Scott is an original Freedom Writer whose story is told in part in the 2007 hit movie, Freedom Writers, Manny Scott has energised over a million leaders, educators, volunteers, and students worldwide. He has spoken to over 125 groups a year for the past decade.

Mr Scott is known to be able to connect to all kinds of audiences from inner-city youth to business executives.

By age 16 he went through some difficult challenges and he almost gave up hope but following a chance encounter, he returned to school. With a new attitude and purpose, and ended up in the back of Erin Gruwell’s English class — a group now known worldwide as the Freedom Writers, portrayed in the 2007 hit MTV movie.

In his journal, Manny began writing — and dreaming about — new, more fulfilling chapters in his life — chapters filled with healing, hope, perseverance, and possibility.

In 2007, he founded Ink International, Inc, an educational consulting team aimed at preventing suicides, raising student achievement, and improving teacher effectiveness. Through Ink’s online Professional Speaker Academy, Mr Scott is training people how to survive and thrive as professional speakers.

He is the author of two books: Your Next Chapter, a book that shows people, step-by-step, how to create the life of their dreams; and, How to R.E.A.C.H. Youth Today, a book that shares several proven practices and principles that engage, equip, and empower people everywhere to reach people who seem unreachable.

He is now a successful entrepreneur, a Ph.D. student, and one of the nation’s most sought-after speakers.

Weston Kieschnick is a senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education and bestselling author of Bold School: Old School Wisdom + New School Technologies = Blended Learning That Works.

His thought leadership around blended pedagogy has been published in Education Week, Ed-Tech Magazine, and The Learning Transformation: A Guide to Blended Learning for Administrators. He also created and hosts Teaching Keating, the fastest growing podcast in education where pop-culture and pedagogy collide.

Mr Kieschnick has worked with teachers and school leaders from every state in the US and more than 30 countries around the world. Districts where Weston provides keynotes, teacher development, and coaching have been recognised among the top ten in the country for their work in educational technology. During his tenure in education, Weston has served as an award winning teacher, assistant principal, and district level administrator.

Weston Kieschnick.