Anne Gottlieb began her career in education when she started working at Austin Career Education Center (ACEC) as an English teacher in 1998. Students came to see her as someone who motivated them to achieve their goals.
"She pushes me to stay in school. When I see her, she would say, 'Hey, how are you doing, and it makes me feel better and I love her," said Antonio Tousant, a student at ACEC, who is planning on a career in real estate upon graduating.
Gottlieb, 40, a River Forest resident and mother of three, began working for Chicago Public Schools in the 1995-96 school year as an English teacher at Washington High School.
She now serves as assistant principal at the career academy.
"All of our students come here by choice," Gottlieb said. "They are all 17 and up, and young people are trying to see who they are. It's the same here as in Whitney Young. We're small and we all know each other, and we provide resources that will help our students understand the outside world a little more."
Since she was 6, Gottlieb said, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. She grew up with two older brothers, one of whom had Down syndrome.
"A lot of people would ask me if I was going to be a special education teacher because I would work with him," Gottlieb recalled. "I definitely developed my sense of being a teacher, and he definitely influenced me that way."
Gottlieb received her undergraduate degree, majoring in English, at Northwestern University, her master's degree at DePaul University in educational leadership, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at National Louis University. Eventually she will become eligible for a superintendent license.
In April, she was elected to the District 90 elementary school board in River Forest, where she will serve on the education committee and as board liaison to the Oak Park-River Forest Council.
"I hope to balance it," she said. "A lot of people serving on the board are lawyers and CPAs, so everyone has to balance their work and professional lives. The career center is my first job, so it's my first priority, but I am happy to be serving River Forest, a place where my kids are going to school."
While talks of school closings in Chicago continue to cause outrage in the community, Gottlieb says the city's school board should work more closely with neighborhoods.
"I wish there was more of a dialogue and personal attention to these neighborhoods; I wish there was more to the solution besides just closing them down," she said.
The Austin Career Education Center services 180 students and provides them with the tools they need to achieve their goals.
Brianna Cotton has dreams of becoming a chef and opening an art studio. She thanks Gottlieb for supporting her academically and her career choice.
"She is nice to me and she also voted for me for student of the month. She's quiet sometimes, but she is a good person." Cotton said.