With Laura Gutmann
For Sunnyside resident Laura Gutmann, it all comes down to education, education and more education.
A former student and New York City public school teacher, Gutmann, 28, was recently promoted to the position of vice president of NYC Programs and acting head of Program Operations at Junior Achievement of New York (JANY).
Gutmann is now in charge of an annual $4.7 million budget for JANY, the regional arm of Junior Achievement Worldwide, the world's largest company specializing in preparing school students to enter the workforce and succeed in a global economy.
Gutmann, who is still adjusting to her new role as a high-powered education sector administrator, acknowledged JANY's mission is a lofty one, but said she feels the organization is up to the challenge.
"Growing up in the Northeast with an interest in education I knew I wanted to be in New York City," said Gutmann, who grew up in Frenchtown, New Jersey.
After graduating from Duke University with a degree in public policy, Gutmann moved to the city and was accepted into the Teach for America program. Following her training, Gutmann taught kindergarten at P.S. 53 in the Bronx for three years until, in 2005, she was tapped for a lower-level job at JANY.
"The transition to JANY was the logical next step for me because it allowed me to do something broader but stay connected to New York City schools," said Gutmann.
Gutmann said JANY provides free services to 95,000 students in over 500 public schools and community centers across the city and on Long Island.
She said the schools opt to participate in the education programs, which are integrated into school curriculum, that teach financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and workforce readiness. The short, period-length classes are taught by volunteers from the local business community, added Gutmann.
JANY works primarily in high-needs school areas with children from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
"As the kids get older it builds up and gets a little more serious," said Gutmann. B
y the time students that participate in JANY graduate high school, they have the skills to find interesting work or pursue higher education. Most importantly, said Gutmann, JANY helps students value their own self-worth, and see the connection between a good education and financial stability in the future.
"Our goal is to connect earning to learning. We hope that kids will feel more confidant about their chances to find work or go to college," said Gutmann. "It's a great feeling to know that I can help bring resources that are free to schools across the city." (Daniel Bush)