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This Miami teacher is helping students see their worth through writing

Precious Symonette
Precious Symonette started the Viking Freedom Writers at Miami Norland Senior High.

Precious Symonette learned a hard lesson early on as a high school teacher.

She couldn’t reach her students if they were quietly struggling with problems at home — it didn’t matter how prepared she was.

Symonette was going to have to do a different kind of teaching. She was going to have to teach them their worth. She was going to have to teach them to write.

Symonette became a creative writing teacher at Miami Norland Senior High. She brought in the principles of the Freedom Writers — a movement started in California in the 1990s to teach students to write through their troubles.

She started the Viking Freedom Writers, named for the high school’s mascot. She’s now taught more than 3,000 students these principles. Some have gone on to become professional writers.

The creative writing teacher has been named a Miami-Dade County teacher of the year. And the County Commission named April 18, 2023, Viking Freedom Writers Day.

On the May 29 episode of Sundial, Symonette joined us to talk about why the vocations of writer and educator go hand-in-hand.

On Sundial's previous episode, Connie Ogle joined us to talk about her new role as the Miami Herald food editor.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Helen Acevedo, a freelance producer, is a grad student at Florida International University studying Spanish-language journalism, a bilingual program focused on telling the stories of diverse communities.