Melinda's art teacher Mr. Freeman is tall, lanky, and unattractive. All of the teachers at Merryweather High School seem weird to Melinda, but Mr. Freeman is weird in a completely unexpected way. He believes art is a way to better understand one's true soul and that creating art is as essential to life as breathing. Students don't know how to respond to him at first, but he grows on them because he is a good teacher who truly cares about his students. Melinda hates feeling like an outcast, but Mr. Freeman exemplifies the outcast who embraces his position as a disrupter of norms.  

Mr. Freeman serves as a contrast to the other adult characters in the book, most of whom are too involved in their own lives to notice Melinda. He talks a lot and is receptive to students who want to talk with him. Melinda calls Mr. Freeman's room "Cool Central," but he is not a pushover. Mr. Freeman also disciplines slackers. He knows when to push kids to work harder and when they need support and a break. He never lets the kids make excuses. Graduating students come back to visit him, demonstrating the profound effect he’s had on them as a teacher. According to the local newspaper, Mr. Freeman is a gifted genius who has devoted his life to education. 

Mr. Freeman can also be emotional and allows his personal feelings to enter the classroom. He detests being told what to do by the school board. He often complains to the students about his problems with the administration. He mopes in his classroom when he is upset and dramatically slashes his painting in front of the students. He's late to faculty meetings, curses in front of students, and refuses to hand in final grades on time. While most of the adults in Speak are quite far removed from their own emotions, Mr. Freeman feels everything deeply, embodying those emotions in all of their complexity.