Warren High School teacher Bianca Farina began teaching at Warren mid-year in 2011. Anxious and eager to make an impression on young lives, Farina almost immediately faced a disappointing reality early in her tenure.
“It was around open house time and I basically set up my classroom all nice…[I] was so excited to meet the parents,” said Farina. “5:30 showed, 6:30, 7:30; no parent came, no student came. Nobody came. I was so sad.”
Farina teaches Special Education English, and says that a lot of her students come from different walks of life in addition to their educational struggles. She says that they can be a difficult crowd that is hard to please, and many of them find themselves up in the office often.
Still, this particular experience was a hard blow to endure.
“I was so devastated because I was like ‘why?’” said Farina. “I started to think about it and I remembered I had just seen the movie 'Freedom Writers.' I thought to myself ‘I’m Ms. G,’ you know? She comes into this classroom ready to change the world and nobody shows up.”
This revelation sparked an idea in Farina, who desperately wants to make a connection with each and every one of her students and to make an impact on their lives.
Farina now shows "Freedom Writers" at the beginning of every year, and tries to make sure that her students know that she believes in them and that they have a safe place to express themselves.
“Not to toot my own horn, but I have a very good rapport with my students,” said Farina.
Recently, a unique opportunity presented itself; a five-day "Freedom Writers" conference that would put Farina under the tutelage of the teacher that she idolizes.
“I can’t explain to you how amazing this conference was,” said Farina. “That teacher – Ms. Gruwell – changed 150 students lives and continues to change people’s lives…I walked in as one person on Friday and walked out a different person on Tuesday.”
Farina has already starting to utilize many of the techniques and strategies that she learned at the conference. The conference also provides another potential opportunity, as Farina is now considered an official “Freedom Writer teacher” and can teach the course at Warren should the school decide to offer the class.
“Troubled teens need that, they need that guidance. They need that hand holding, they need that love,” said Farina. “...Or even just a hug, letting them know that ‘it’s going to be ok, I’m here for you.’”