Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Wings for Every Child

Barbara Bensoussan

Esther Gutwein started her career as graduate student doing psychological evaluations. Today she manages education supervisors. Throughout it all, she’s strived to help every child succeed

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

 Mishpacha image

Mrs. Esther Gutwein has been implementing or overseeing evaluations for the DOE in New York for over 25 years, and rose through the ranks to become first a supervisor, then a manager of supervisors. This places her almost at the very top of the totem pole for the DOE school psychology department

E very Jewish parent wants his child to succeed in school. With some kids, that’s a no-sweat proposition; they take to school with the ease of birds taking flight. Others, however, just can’t seem to lift off the ground.

Figuring out what keeps a child from succeeding in school is the province of the school psychologist. She’s the one who administers the tests that indicate areas of strength or dysfunction. She makes recommendations for addressing any weak spots: resource room, speech therapy, occupational therapy, tutoring. Few yeshivos have their own school psychologists on staff, but when a child seems challenged, parents in New York have the option to apply to the Department of Education (DOE) for an evaluation and possible therapy.

Mrs. Esther Gutwein has been implementing or overseeing evaluations for the DOE in New York for over 25 years, and rose through the ranks to become first a supervisor, then a manager of supervisors. This places her almost at the very top of the totem pole for the DOE school psychology department. It’s an impressive accomplishment in a department comprised of nearly 1,000 school psychologists.

But Esther isn’t the type to flaunt her titles, or anything else, for that matter. A Flatbush mother and grandmother, tastefully dressed with a short wig and a bit of makeup, she looks like someone you’d sit next to in shul or run into at a shidduch meeting. She’s warm and welcoming, yet dignified and discreet.

The mantel of her home is decorated with old family photos, which give a clue to the family background that shaped Esther. Two remastered photos of her father’s parents take pride of place for a special reason: “My father was one of the first Jews captured during the war, and one of the last to be released,” she says. “He was from Belchatow, Poland, outside Lodz, and during the entire war he kept those photos hidden in the sole of his shoe. They were so precious to him that when the shoe fell off in front of the Germans, he ran out of line to retrieve it. One of the Germans was about to shoot him, but his comrade said, ‘If that Jew is so crazy he’d risk his life to run after it, just let him be.’ ”

 

Esther’s father and one of his siblings survived the war; so did her mother and one of her siblings. Esther was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, but her parents came to the US when Esther was two, and settled in Boro Park.

Her father worked in Manhattan in real estate, putting in long days and losing many hours to the commute. Ultimately, he decided to move the family to the West Side, in order to have more time with them. His distinguished personality left a deep mark on Esther. “He was wealthy before the war,” she relates, “but he used to tell us, ‘There are three things no one can ever take away from you: the emunah and love you have in your heart, and the knowledge you have in your brain.’ For my parents, education was everything.”

Her parents made sure their children were educated; by the time Esther got married, she’d earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Hebrew teacher’s certificate. She wasn’t intending to go to work; she wanted to raise a family. When that didn’t work out right away, she decided to go back to school for graduate work, training as a school psychologist. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 568)

Related Stories

Simchah Imperfect

Tamar Hadar

Some simchahs are a mixture of overwhelming joy and excruciating pain. Four pairs of women share the...

Let Them Eat Bread

Riki Goldstein

It started when Rabbi Yisroel Stessel of Monroe was contacted by a Jew from abroad whose relative wa...

Blogging for Bread and Butter

C. Rosenberg

Blogs are increasingly a way to earn a substantial living. Successful bloggers and marketing experts...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time