Joe Gutmann Named 2010 Educator of the Year
Street Law, Inc. is a national non-profit organization that provides practical, participatory education about law, democracy, and human rights. Street Law began in 1972, when a small group of Georgetown University Law Center students developed an experimental curriculum to teach high school students in Washington DC about the practical aspects of the law and the legal system. The program evolved and today a Street Law textbook and curriculum is used throughout the country.
On 9/11, Joe Gutmann, a prosecutor in Louisville, decided to make a difference in a new way. He left the prosecutor’s office to teach at Central High School in Louisville. In 2005, he was asked to serve as the coordinator of Central’s Law and Government Magnet program, and he began using the Street Law materials for the sophomore magnet students. In 2007, law students from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law began assisting in teaching the curriculum at Central under Joe Gutmann’s supervision. Building on the partnership begun in 2001 between Central and the Brandeis School of Law, law students were approved to receive public service credit for their Street Law work. Each year about 15 to 25 law students are involved in the program (in addition to many others who teach law magnet courses for juniors and seniors).
Each year, Street Law honors a teacher at its Annual Awards Dinner. Nominees must “educate students in an exceptional manner” and “use Street Law materials.” Joe Gutmann meets both criteria, and he is being recognized in Washington DC on April 28, 2010 as the Street Law Educator of the Year.
One of his nomination letters noted that
his dedication and commitment goes above and beyond to ensure that students are guided and that they learn. He gives them “tough love.” He makes sure they have the opportunity to attend special events. He works on giving them the tools to succeed. He is a tireless advocate for his students. The Central students who are in his class and the law students who teach in the Law Magnet think highly of Joe. The admiration and affection and respect … students have for Joe…doesn’t stop when they graduate. [R]eturning students …still come to him for help and advice (and to share good news about how college is going).
This award recognizes that exceptional teaching and commitment. Joe is always quick to acknowledge the various partnerships that make the Central High School’s Law and Government Magnet Program and his work successful. These include the partnership with the Brandeis School of Law, the long standing Summer Internship Program sponsored by the Louisville Bar Association, the University of Louisville University Community Signature Partnership support through UofL’s Office of Community Engagement (including the Seven Habits of Highly Successful Teens program), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.