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Citing his work with volunteers tutoring students, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould was honored by Learning Leaders at the organization’s 50th anniversary party at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan.
HarperCollins president and ceo Jane Friedman and Peter Kraus, managing director of Goldman Sachs, also were honored at the Nov. 5 dinner.
WCBS TV News anchor Dana Tyler, a Learning Leaders volunteer and trustee, was emcee for the evening. “With all due respect to Manhattan hotels…what a venue,” she said.
Tyler was among the 425 guests who helped raise $1.1 million and re-created their school days by queuing up on the cafeteria line for the vegetarian lasagna or meat loaf entrees. Some even rode a yellow school bus ferrying guests from P.S. 6 on the upper East Side to Stuyvesant, which is on Chambers Street. After the event, guests took the bus back uptown and shouted out their exits as it traveled on Park Avenue.
Learning Leaders, formerly called the NYC School Volunteer Program, trains and supports 14,000 volunteers in 960 schools, including 90 percent of the city’s elementary schools. Volunteers work at least two hours a week to help about 265,000 students.
“So many of these kids just need a pat on their back,” Tyler said. The event went off without a hitch, though it took some doing. At 4 p.m., the halls of the school, which is among the city’s academic elite, were still filled with students. Stan Teitel, the principal, sped them on their way, however.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) seemed sentimental visiting the school. “My daughter went to school here and got a great education — and I’ve never seen the lunchroom before,” he said.
Noting that his wife, Iris Weinshall, chairs the Learning Leaders board and is vice chancellor of The City University of New York, Schumer said, “Public education is in our bones….The number-one reason students succeed is parent involvement.”
Bloomingdale’s has a history of involvement with Learning Leaders, with 99 employees participating. Gould himself comes from a family of educators. His father, grandfather and uncle were all professors, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, respectively.
Though he’s not talking retirement, Gould views teaching as a possible second career. “That’s what I would like to do, though I think that my role — or, for any kind of leader — is about teaching and giving people the opportunity to grow and learn. It’s about giving people the opportunity to be more than they thought they could be. I don’t believe anyone’s education stops with a college diploma. If you don’t learn at Bloomingdale’s every day, you don’t grow. We are all teachers. We are all mentors. That’s what we are going to be remembered for. Not how many handbags we sell.
“Learning Leaders has enriched me and my organization.”