Gruwell successfully sending many previously high-risk students to
college, it is clear that she has fulfilled her role as the “good teacher.”
According to Mary M. Dalton in “The Hollywood Curriculum:
Teachers in the Movies,” The Hollywood Model for the good teacher is,
“an outsider who is usually not well-liked by other teachers...gets
involved with students on a personal level, learns from those students,
and does not usually fare well with administrators” (24). In addition,
“They also frequently personalize the curriculum to meet everyday
needs in their students’ lives” (Dalton 24). Therefore, Gruwell would
be considered a good teacher according to The Hollywood Model
because of the lack of support she receives from fellow teachers and
administrators and her dedication to getting to know students on a
personal level while tailoring the curriculum to their needs.
Gruwell not only meets the definition of a good teacher, she
also exemplifies the three variations of the good teacher that often
appear when academically struggling students are involved. As one of
her students notes, “Ms. Gruwell is the only person who makes me
think of hope.” In addition, when another student named Marcus
(Jason Finn) claims that class visitor Miep Gies is the first hero he has
ever had, Miep replies, “I am not a hero. I did what I had to do because
it was the right thing to do. That is all,” a statement that clearly reflects
the over the top effort Ms. Gruwell has put into making sure her
students succeed out of the goodness of her heart. When examining
these factors of the good teacher as embodied in Gruwell, I define the
good teacher depicted as a hero/savior to be one who inspires hope in
the hopeless and selflessly advocates for students because he or she
feels it is the right thing to do, not necessarily the easiest thing to do.
Through this type of representation, these heroic teachers also serve as
role models for students by setting standards for human decency,
respect, and passion.
To begin, it is first important to look at the good teacher as a
savior. In the reflective and exploratory book Images of Schoolteachers in
America, editors Pamela Bolotin Joseph and Gail E. Burnaford assemble
chapters that examine the cumulative factors propagating the perfect
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