COMMUNITY SERVICE: Laura Schmitt is co-president of the Benjamin. N. Cardozo High School PTA.
BACKGROUND: Schmitt grew up in Brooklyn, and now lives in Jamaica. She is a mother of five — four boys and one girl. Her youngest daughter will be graduating from Cardozo this spring.
Schmitt is a retired dentist, and has been on various PTAs over the past 22 years. She has been the co-president of the Cardozo PTA for the past two.
“I mostly do this for the children who don’t have parents who are actively involved,” Schmitt said. “There are a lot of children that need a voice, and that’s where I come in.”
GOALS: Currently, Schmitt is working with the PTA to raise funds to purchase a system called Parchment. This will enable students to send out all of their college application materials online and keep better track of the process.
“We have students that are not only the best in the city, but the best in the nation,” said Schmitt. She believes that these students deserve to be provided with the tools that will keep them competitive. Another goal Schmitt and the PTA at Cardozo have is to implement the use of a transparent online grading system which she believes will better inform parents.
“Not every parent has the opportunity to go to the school for answers and some don’t know the right questions to ask,” said Schmitt.
She explains that this system is proactive in providing the information parents need. The PTA will also have a tentative date of June 14 for a flea market to raise funds for these goals. If you are interested in being a vendor, you can contact them at Benjamincardozohspta@yahoo.com.
FAVORITE MEMORY: Schmitt’s fondest memory was being asked to speak at last year’s graduation ceremony. She explains that being asked to give a graduation speech was recognition of all of that was accomplished. Schmitt remembers feeling a special warmth for each one of the children as they came up to receive their degrees.
This year she was invited to speak again and the PTA co-president said this time is even more special because her daughter will be graduating. “She is my youngest child and it will be the culmination of my 22 years of continuous service on PTAs,” said Schmitt.
INSPIRATION: Her first inspirations for getting involved in the educational needs of children were her mother and mother in-law, who are both retired teachers. She remembers them always telling her “if you want a job done; give it to a busy person.”
“I guess having been a full-time dentist raising five children at that time made me that person,” said Schmitt.
Moreover, her co-president, Evette Ennis, whom she describes to be a caring mother with an endless supply of ideas, energy and professionalism, continues to be an inspiration to Schmitt.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Schmitt explains that although Cardozo is one of the top high schools in the city, with an excellent staff of teachers and principals, budget cuts are having an impact on the school.
“Classes are being cut and everything that has made our school great is in jeopardy,” said Schmitt. She explained that it has been a tremendous challenge to get the community, politicians and the parents to speak up, get involved, donate, or advocate for the needs of the children.
- Star of Queens: Mary Parisen, co-founder, Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES)
- Star of Queens: Kim Cody, president, Greater Whitestone Taxpayer Civic Association
- Star of Queens: Matthew Silva, co-founder, People for the Pavilion