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Joe Gutmann Is Named Street Law 2010 Educator of the Year

Joe Gutmann, Central High School Law and Government Magnet Coordinator, Named 2010 Educator of the Year, by Street Law

Joe Gutmann, who teaches law at Central High School and serves as its government magnet coordinator, has been named 2010 Educator of the Year by Street Law.

Street Law, Inc., a national non-profit organization that provides practical, participatory education about law, democracy, and human rights, 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, then 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 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 met both criteria, and he was recognized in Washington, DC, on April 28 as the Street Law Educator of the Year.

One of his nomination letters noted, “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 letter concluded. “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.

Guttman 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), the Women Lawyers Association of Jefferson County, the Louisville Black Lawyers Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

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