Actor James Franco is teaming with nonprofit “Honored” to highlight the work of Palo Alto High School journalism teacher Esther Wojcicki. Wojcicki, the mother of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki, has built a beloved journalism program at Palo Alto High and Franco has taught at the school with her.


Media: Courtesy The MY HERO Project

Palo Alto High School journalism teacher Esther Wojcicki has at least one famous fan: James Franco.

The actor, currently starring in HBO’s “The Deuce” and known for films such as “127 Hours” and “The Interview,” is highlighting the work of Wojcicki at Palo Alto High. He’s teaming with the nonprofit Honored, which is “dedicated to elevating teachers across the nation,” according to a press release.

Wojcicki is not your average teacher. The former journalist, known affectionately as “Woj” or “The Woj” to students who pass through her program, is also the mother of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki, and UCSF professor Janet Wojcicki. Her husband is Stanley Wojcicki, professor emeritus of physics at Stanford.

Wojcicki’s award-winning Palo Alto High journalism program has turned out notable alumni like Franco, Gady Epstein of The Economist, and Rachel Metz of the MIT Technology Review.

Students in the program produce a newspaper, the Campanile, a news website, and several smaller publications. Franco, in his video tribute to Wojcicki, points to the hands-on experience of building a newspaper as a seminal influence on his education.

“We got to come up with the stories, and we did the layout of the paper,” Franco says in the video from The MY HERO Project via Honored. “There were even cases when [our stories] scooped the professional papers.”

Franco calls Wojcicki his “hero.”

Honored says Wojcicki will be recognized at a September event and will receive a cash grant.