NYC Junior Ambassadors311Search all NYC.gov websites

Cohorts

Meet the 2017-2018 Cohort

The Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology (M.S. 343)

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Refugee Crisis

The Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology (M.S. 343), is a community of learners who respect and support each other. Staff and parents accept, address, and meet the needs of the students in an interactive atmosphere of learning and creativity. The school develops the students' intellect and character while guiding individual adolescents to become life-long learners. The foundation of the school is student-centered. Critical thinking skills, decision-making skills and effective communication are the educational objective of our learning community. Likewise, the goal of educators is to nurture a community of leaders in preparing students for their march through the 21st century.

Elizabeth Chavez is a Special Education teacher in an Integrated Co-Teaching classroom, and teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grades English and Social Studies. She received her Masters of Education from Hunter College as a corps member of Teach For America, and is in her fourth year teaching at The Academy of Applied Math and Technology (AAMT). Ms. Chavez and her co-teacher focus on incorporating students' different learning styles and multiple intelligences to into their lessons in order to allow all their students to feel successful. They believe in helping their students become creative writers by providing opportunities to write poetry, songs, and short stories. They also believe in the importance of helping their students become global citizens, placing a strong emphasis on educating their students about important aspects of United States History, World History, Geography, and current events, as well as fostering a mindset of acceptance of differences among world cultures. Ms. Chavez became a teacher because she believes that educating people—both children and adults—is the most effective way to create positive change in our world. She loves her students and believes in their potential to all be successful if they are inspired and consistently supported as they grow. She strongly believes that programs like NYC Junior Ambassadors will teach students to become global citizens and inspire them to become young leaders who can set a good example for their peers, and learn to believe that they are powerful and capable of create change no matter how young they are.


Archimedes Academy for Math, Science and Technology Applications

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Human Rights

At Archimedes Academy of Math, Science and Technology Applications the mission is simple: all students desire and deserve to learn. Archimedes Academy creates a community of success-focused, lifelong leaders. Our school is committed to nurturing the curiosity and creativity of young minds and supporting their developmental needs. The school culture teaches decision making and ethical behaviors by implementing the Search institute's Developmental Assets program overseen by our Community Coordinator.

Carissa Agron has been teaching social studies to seventh graders at Archimedes Academy for four years. Ms. Agron, born and raised in the Bronx, comes from a background where values in community service are very important in an individual’s life. It has been her mission to give back and the best way she knew was to inspire and educate students to be well rounded, civic participants in society. Students in Ms. Agron’s classroom prefer to be called Historians or Padawans. The shared love for adventure and Star Wars creates not only a bond between students and the educator, but also, an environment for the seventh graders to feel confident and to have educated Socratic dialogues where the students have an opportunity to address certain issues that exist nationally and globally. Ms. Agron has been a part of the District 8 cohort with the New York Historical Society and is currently the middle school chapter leader of the National Junior Honor Society.


Castle Hill Middle School (J.H.S. 127)

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Sustainable Development/Education

Castle Hill Middle School (J.H.S. 127) strives to educate students to become informed participants in a democratic society. By exploring history and investigating social, and political issues, educators help students to be informed about the topics that are important to our local and global community. Castle Hill Middle School's curriculum is designed thematically rather than chronologically in order for students to gain a deeper understanding of historical events and how they still affect people today. The coursework empowers students to take responsibility for their own learning through student-centered activities.


Entrada Academy

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Climate Change

Entrada Academy is a multicultural and diverse learning community committed to helping develop the linguistic, academic, and social skills of all our students in a supportive and collaborative learning environment. Entrada students will strive to become knowledgeable and socially responsible productive citizens. Entrada students value community, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

The 19 NYC Junior Ambassadors at Entrada Academy learn together in a bilingual science classroom which includes students who have been in the United States for less than a year.  Many of their experiences in science have been limited before their matriculation at Entrada.  However, they are inquisitive, and enjoy the ability to learn science through hands on projects and experimentation.

Sonia Rosado has been working with the Department of Education for 10 years bringing students the love of science through experiments and projects that ignite curiosity through discovery and critical thinking.

Esther Ribiero has been with the Department of Education since 2002. She thrives on making mathematics engaging and relating it to the real world. She takes keen interest in having interdisciplinary connections.

Edgar Soto has been in the Department of Education since 2015. He connects Math and Science and relates it to the students’ real world experiences. He thrives on igniting mathematical and scientific curiosity about the world in his students.


Icahn Charter School 3

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Human Rights

Icahn Charter School 3 is part of a seven-school network located in the Bronx with the goal of ensuring that all students will graduate with the skills and knowledge to participate successfully in the most rigorous academic environments and a sense of responsibility for improving their community and the world. At Icahn Charter School 3 students have the knowledge to think critically and their rigorous academic environment prepares them for college and beyond. Icahn Charter School 3 students’ education is further enriched through blended learning. The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Icahn Charter School 3 are interested in studying real world issues that occur both nationally and internationally.

Rebecca Nani was born in Poughkeepsie. New York. Graduating with both her Bachelors and Master’s degree in Adolescent Education from SUNY New Paltz, Rebecca is passionate about her love for social studies and politics.  In 2016, Rebecca moved to the Bronx to begin her teaching career at Icahn Charter School 3. This is her second year teaching Social Studies to 7th and 8th graders. From a young age, Rebecca has been eager to become a teacher. Growing up she had amazing teachers as role models and wanted to become a teacher herself to empower students.


Icahn Charter School 4

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Human Rights

Located in the Bronx and serving 324 students, Icahn Charter School 4 is a national blue ribbon school and part of a seven-school network. At Icahn Charter School 4, students learn and grow in a learner-active, technology-infused environment. The 7th grade class of Icahn Charter School 4 consists of highly motivated students who largely identify as people of color. NYC Junior Ambassadors at Icahn Charter School 4 are deeply interested in the world's crises and current events, and want to investigate how both currently affect them and will continue to affect them in the future, as well as in investigating and promoting social justice. As a mix of visual and kinetic learners, NYC Junior Ambassadors at Icahn Charter School 4 benefit from interactive and multimodal learning experiences.

Borah Coburn is an English language arts and literacy specialist at Icahn Charter School 4, where she supports a variety of students through a combination of push-in, pull-out, and co-teaching methods. She also co-teaches seventh grade social studies through the NYC Junior Ambassador program. Working with the NYCJA program last year, Coburn was inspired by the way students rose to the challenge of exploring their agency, power, and responsibility as global citizens and is thrilled at the chance to participate in the program again with a new cohort of seventh graders. Coburn has always been passionate about literacy, creativity, and the liberal arts. While working with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Coburn began to realize the full power of literacy to empower or exclude people from a variety of opportunities. After that experience, Coburn has made literacy education as empowerment her focus. Having graduated from Boston University with a BA in English and from Hunter College with an MA in Adolescent English Education, Borah Coburn has spent the past two years working to support students’ literacy acquisition at Icahn Charter School 4. In addition to reading a new children’s or young adult novel every week, Coburn has also organized parent book clubs, scholarship fair nights, the school’s participation in a campaign to bring bookstores back to the Bronx, and taught middle school art.

Joshua M. Katz was born on Long Island, New York. Even at very young age, he took a great interest in social studies, politics and current affairs, quickly finding his passion. Joshua graduated from Ward Melville High School in Setauket, NY, in 2005. He then attended York College of Pennsylvania, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in American History, graduating with honors in 2009. Katz worked as an intern at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, finding his true passion: helping others by working with children in a scholastic setting. In 2012, Katz graduated with his Masters of Education from Dowling College, specializing in social studies grades 5-12. After student teaching on Long Island, Katz began work as a Teaching Assistant at Ward Melville High School, specializing in social studies grades 11-12. Katz has been a middle school social studies teacher at Icahn Charter School 4 since March of 2016, teaching social studies to students grades 7-8. Last year, Katz co-taught Icahn Charter School 4’s 2016-2017 cohort of the NYC Junior Ambassador program and  is excited to support this year’s group of Junior Ambassadors in their journeys to change the world.


The Lab School for Children (P.S./M.S. 315)

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Human Rights/Children’s Rights

The mission of The Lab School for Children is to provide children and families a nurturing educational environment for excellence in critical thinking, exploration and experimentation. The Lab School is committed to developing each student to his/her full potential so that they can attain rigorous content and performance standards as set by the city and state. By encouraging an understanding and appreciation of diversity, human interconnectedness, and relationship to the environment, The Lab School prepares students to be ethical leaders in their communities to serve the world around them.

Kelly Manu has been a teacher at P.S./M.S. 315 The Lab School for Children in District 10 in the Bronx for four years. During her time there, she has been an active member of the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) team promoting student leadership and community service in the school. She currently teaches a group of 7th grade special education students and empowers them to be critical thinkers and active citizens of their community despite the learning challenges that they face. During the 2017-2018 school year, her twelve self-contained special education students will be focusing on human rights throughout their ELA and Social Studies curriculum. She works with a diverse group of learners with specific academic needs; however their drive for learning remains constant. With the help of her paraprofessional, Vidalina Morel, an enthusiastic essential member of the classroom, Ms. Manu’s students continue to thrive and reach for excellence.


I.S. 240 Andries Hudde Magnet School of STEM (I.S. 240)

Borough:  Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic:  Gender Equity

I.S. 240 Andries Hudde Magnet School of STEM aims to “build a better world” by working collaboratively across all content areas on projects that require students to think critically, engage in rich discussions, solve problems and continually evaluate their work to achieve high levels of understanding.

Patrick Stackpole is a first year teacher in I.S. 240 Andries Hudde Magnet School of STEM in Brooklyn New York. Mr. Stackpole is passionate about history and politics and hopes, through the NYC Junior Ambassadors Program, to inspire in his students a similar passion. Mr. Stackpole’s class features a diverse and passionate group of young men and women who exemplify Hudde’s commitment to rigorous academic standards and student-led classrooms. This group of future leaders is excited for the opportunity to work in the NYC Junior Ambassador’s Program and determined to building a better world.


Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy

Borough:  Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic:  Climate Change and Inequality

The Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy (BSEA) provides its 260 students with learning experiences that prepare them to tackle the rigorous academic work of high school and beyond. Through small class sizes, open-communication with families, interest based crews, and academic coaching, BSEA helps students to demonstrate excellence in all academic subject areas and through a unique foundation of learning experiences, which provides a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). BSEA is in its fourth year as a NYC public school in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and has been designated a Showcase School for the 2017-2018 school year in the area of STEAM. BSEA works hard to share best practices and student centered learning approaches with other teachers and principals in all districts.  Currently BSEA’s 7th graders are focusing on the concerns of climate change and how this global problem leads to worldwide poverty.  Students will be developing a campaign to help their community to better understand what leads to climate change and what solutions are available to protect our planet at the local and global level.

Michelle Jennings is a Model Teacher, Showcase School Fellow and Lead Teacher at the Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy (BSEA). Mrs. Jennings is the STEM teacher for 6th & 7th graders as well as the Living Environment Regents teacher for 8th graders. The Brooklyn Science & Engineering Academy enters its 4th academic year of operation & celebrated their first graduating class in June 2017. The first BSEA graduates were part of the 1st cohort of NYC Junior Ambassadors. Mrs. Jennings is a founding teacher entering her 10th year of experience as a DOE teacher. She is a career changer who once managed the emergency room at Kings County Hospital Center, served as the Evening Administrator at Downstate Medical Center. She joined the NYC Teaching Fellows program in 2007 and began her career with the Department of Education as a Special Education Science Teacher. In 2014 she transitioned into her role as BSEA’s science teacher and in this role she manages the Ladies of Code; an all-girls engineering coding team as well as the NYC Junior Ambassadors program. Mrs. Jennings holds a Bachelor of Arts, from St. John’s University, a Master of Science in Administration (MSA) from Central Michigan University and a Master in Education (MsEd) from Long Island University.


New Heights Middle School

Borough:  Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic:  SDG 9 [Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure]

New Heights Middle School is dedicated to equipping scholars with the skills necessary for success and leadership in the 21st century. Scholars at New Heights engage in individualized and personalized learning through innovative, and technology related activities. With opportunities to experience meaningful learning and active participation in the global community, New Heights scholars will become critical thinkers and problem solvers. As NYC Junior Ambassadors, 7th graders at New Heights will have the opportunity to be change agents on a local level as well as globally as they support the United Nation’s mission of addressing challenging situations in the world.

Cathy Ann Williams-Watts has been teaching for the last twenty- four years. She began her teaching career in Trinidad and Tobago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in History (Hons) and Teacher’s Diploma in Education. Her first teaching position in the United States began in 2001, when she was hired as an international teacher. Mrs. Watts worked as an elementary school teacher from 2001 to 2007 at P. S. 115 in Brooklyn, New York. During her time at P.S. 115, she worked with UNICEF to spearhead a successful partnership with a school in Zimbabwe with the intention of helping furnish their library with books. After the first successful year, Mrs. Watts continue to expand the Zimbabwe Project, working with her students at M.S. 334 to collect funds and toys for a school in Zimbabwe, while also sharing their work with their community and school staff as they chronicled their findings and reflections. Currently Mrs. Watts is at New Heights continuing her journey of creating and fostering responsible, successful, and innovative scholars who can and will make a difference in today’s world.


The Joseph F. Lamb (P.S./I.S. 206)

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Food Security

Joseph F. Lamb (P.S./I.S. 206) aims to provide the best education for every student in a stimulating, challenging, safe environment with high performance standards and current technology. Educators are committed to helping children become creative thinkers, lifelong achievers, and well-rounded citizens. P.S. 206 endorses and nourishes a collaborative approach where students, teachers, staff, parents, administrators, and community leaders are dedicated to academic excellence, mutual respect, and equality for all.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors from P.S. 206 are participating in a Garden Renewal Project supported by Councilmember Chaim Deutsch and will be growing basil and parsley to be used in creating “Hearty” Brooklyn Bruschetta. This partially home-grown food will be brought to a local senior center later in the school year. Students have students have begun to learn horticultural terms in English and Latin. The students, through the study of Latin linked to horticulture, will further develop their sense of responsibility and appreciation for our environment and will have the opportunity to reach out to their community in a positive way by creating an original food product in “Hearty” Brooklyn Bruschetta.

Patricia Radigan has been an educator in the NYC Department of Education for 33 years, teaching Grade 5, Visual Arts, Library and now, Latin. She is currently teaching Latin Roots: Introduction to Ancient Roman Architecture, Art, Culture, History and Language at P.S./I.S. 206, The Joseph Lamb School in Brooklyn, NY. Her students explore such topics as Latin affixes and roots, Latin vocabulary words that are connected to specific units of study such as horticulture, Roman myths and legends like Romulus and Remus or Horatio at the Bridge and maps of the Roman world with related open-ended questions. Socratic Seminar discussions center around texts connected to the history and culture of Ancient Rome. Roman numerals, mosaics, frescoes and the paintings of Laurens Alma Tadema are included in the course as well.

 


Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy I Middle School

Borough: Manhattan
NYCJA Topic: Diplomacy

At Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy I Middle School the diverse student body is a bright melting pot of cultures, representing a wide and colorful tapestry of nations. Promise Academy I Middle School scholars and their ancestry hail from all four corners of the globe, from Mali to Morocco, from The Dominican Republic to The Democratic Republic of The Congo, from Belize to Birmingham, AL, from Japan to Jersey, and from Ireland to India. The scholars are focused on getting to college and becoming upstanding, dependable pillars of their local community, as well their global community. This meeting of the minds from all walks of life is at the heart of what makes Promise Academy I Middle School and its seventh grade scholars so special. The 25 NYC Junior Ambassadors at Promise Academy I Middle School are creative, passionate, and dedicated.

David Obanor has been teaching English Language Arts at Promise Academy I Middle School for 3 years. He attended Lehman College as an undergraduate and a graduate student, and majored in English Literature and English Education Grades 7 - 12, respectively. One of his goals is to foster a love of reading in his scholars and promote their sense of agency as strong writers. His goal is for all students to see themselves and their unique experiences and how there's a place 'just for them' in the world of literature.

Camil Alassan has been teaching at Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy Middle School for seven years teaching 7th grade U.S. History. He earned his undergraduate degree in History and a minor Middle through High School social studies education from Lehman College. One of his goals in the classroom is to develop student skills and understanding of U.S. history and how people of color played a significant role in United States history. Another is goal is help students learn how to love learning inside and outside the classroom. ‚Äč


Al-Ihsan Academy

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Water and Sanitation/Refugee Crisis

The NYC Junior Ambassadors from Al-Ihsan Academy are primarily from immigrant families originally from the Caribbean and West Indies. These are active young people with a thirst for hands-on learning and a desire to move beyond the traditional classroom setting. They are very community-oriented, enthusiastic visual learners who love sports and welcome new challenges.

Kamela Elshabrawi has been teaching for the past 9 years. Before teaching, she was an Allstate Insurance Agent. She chose teaching as a career through taking her sons to preschool and while volunteering she found a love for being around children and realized that she could make a difference in a child’s life. Her passion is to educate the young minds and to help them become responsible and successful individuals. She obtained her undergraduate degree from LIU. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s program at Brooklyn College to obtain a degree in Special Education.

Celena Ibrahim was born and raised in Queens, New York where she attended public school her whole life, then college in Long Island. She spent the last 10 years as an educator with different Islamic schools. She has taught a variety of subjects including Regents Mathematics and English to High School students. She has always been involved with extracurricular activities, especially community related events and is keen on getting students more involved in both their school and their community. Most recently, Celena has brought enrichment into the classroom through public speaking and presentation curricula. She today can be found continuing to strive to get students to be engaged in learning beyond the classroom and to look at learning from a real-world approach that engages with their environment.

Mr Sayyid M. Baksh hails from the only English-speaking country on the South American mainland, Guyana. He migrated to the United States less than one year ago and currently resides in NYC with his family. He teaches Religious studies, Arabic Language and Regents Physics. Mr. Baksh taught Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering in Guyana and majored in Chemistry for his undergraduate work at the University of Guyana. He studied Arabic Language at The International Institute for Classical Arabic Language Sciences in Cairo, Egypt and served as a tutor in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and SAT Prep. Mr. Baksh is a New York State Chaplain and Deputy Imam at As-Siddiq Muslim Organisation in Queens. He is able to relate to the Refugee Crisis and the issue of global water shortages through first hand experiences from his stay in the desert country of Egypt, and the scarcity of potable water from his own life growing up in a third world country.

Riyaad Siddique holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Guyana and a Master’s of Science degree in Educational Leadership from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. He has been a middle grade Science educator and Regents Chemistry teacher for 10 years, and an educational administrator for the last three. He heads a team of experienced teachers operating a SACC-licensed after-school enrichment program for underserved middle-schoolers. He is passionate about STEM: introducing FIRST Robotics, NASA-originated engineering and 3D printing to his students, along with leadership development through the NYCJA Program (Lead Teacher in last year’s Cohort), debate and financial literacy. Riyaad enjoys travel, new experiences and a wide variety of sports including biking, table tennis and volleyball.


Queens Collegiate: A College Board School

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Climate Change

Queens Collegiate is a 6-12 grade school in Jamaica, Queens within the Jamaica High School campus. The school's vision is to graduate every student with an understanding of global issues through active learning and participation in community events. The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Queens Collegiate are very curious about science and how it affects them. They have many interests ranging from astronomy, climate change, conservation, pollution, technology, and sports science. The students love to learn through reading, videos, simulations, and hands-on activities. Many of these students are also active participants in the Science Club, the Sustainability Club, Model UN, and many other after-school programs through community organizations.

Mandeep Singh is a middle school and high school science teacher at Queens Collegiate: A College Board School. He has taught all 5 years of his teaching career at Queens Collegiate. Mr. Singh is a third-generation teacher; his father and grandfather were teachers and administrators in Punjab, India. He grew up with extended family members who taught the poor and the disadvantaged in rural villages and has now continued that duty for disadvantaged students in Queens, New York.

Mr. Singh graduated with his Bachelors and Master's degrees in Science from Binghamton University. He completed his Master's in Education at Pace University through the NYC Teaching Fellows program.

Vivett Dukes (nèe Hemans) is in her eighth year as an English Language Arts. She is a passionate teacher-leader and humanitarian who is dedicated to using her voice inside and outside of the classroom in an effort to elevate authentic conversations and grassroots changes in educational equity.  During her time as a teacher within the New York City Department of Education she has served as a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Teacher Advisory Council 2014-2016 cohort, a classroom lab facilitator with Chancellor Carmen Fariña's Learning Partners Program, grade team leader and inquiry team leader. Most recently she was honored by the Academy for Teachers and Princeton University as a Master Teacher. Currently, she serves as a Teacher Advisor for The New York Times' Upfront magazine, as well as a Bethune Teaching Fellow for the New York Urban League.


M.S. 217 Robert A. Van Wyck – The Green Magnet School for Career Exploration

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Human Rights, Environment and Climate Change

At M.S. 217 Robert A. Van Wyck – The Green Magnet School for Career Exploration students are encouraged to share the pride, respect and responsibility that educators feel, so that they can join in learning and building a better community. Students and educators alike reach for excellence, by fostering critical thinking skills and creative problem solving.

The 32 NYC Junior Ambassadors at The Green Magnet School are from very diverse backgrounds.  At home students speak Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, Spanish, and English. The students are eager to learn and to take this learning to become activists for global issues.  Some students have a great interest in and want to become activists for the environment; other students care deeply about women’s and gender issues and want to become activists to promote equity.

Karen Phillips became a teacher when she joined the New York City Teaching Fellows at the age of 55. Karen had previously run Hush-A-Bye, a family business, for 17 years, but when she wrote and then spent 4 years coordinating a Center for Arts Education grant for her twin daughters’ NYC elementary school, the synergy of public education, the arts, and social activism inspired her to form The Family Learning Project, a parent involvement non-profit, and then become a NYC teacher.  Since 2002, Karen has been teaching in her neighborhood at Briarwood’s M. S. 217, Robert A. Van Wyck: The Green Magnet School for Career Exploration.  For the past 6 years, Karen has been the school’s Sustainability Coordinator, and she teaches a course that focuses on activism, the environment and humanitarianism.  She credits her parents for her activism and belief in social justice.  From a young age, they took her with them on marches, taught her union songs, encouraged political participation, and took the whole family to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Karen has always seen the United Nations as an essential force for good in the world and she is excited to begin the Junior Ambassadors journey with her students.

Maria Justiniano is Assistant Principal at M.S. 217 Robert A. Van Wyck – The Green Magnet School for Career Exploration, where she has been since 2014.  Before this role, Maria was an English Teacher at I.S. 10 Horace Greeley Intermediate School in Long Island City, N.Y. for 14 years.

Maria became interested in teaching due to her love of the English language. She enjoyed reading and writing so much during her college years that she decided to major in English, and then asked herself, “How can I extend my love of literature and language further?” She then minored in Secondary Education and coupled her passions with teaching.

Maria graduated from Queens College in 1999 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and a double minor in Secondary Education and Sociology. She also has a Master’s Degree in Reading Education from Queens College, and is certified as a Reading Specialist in grades K-12, a School Building Leader, and a School District Leader.


The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School (P.S./I.S. 78Q)

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Women’s Empowerment/Solar Power

The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School (P.S./I.S. 78Q) is one of the most successful K-8 schools in New York City. It provides a "world class education" with a special focus on the arts and technology. The parents, teachers and school community work to achieve excellence in education for all students in an exciting, enriched and safe environment that mirrors a concern for children, an emphasis on staff development and the inclusion of all aspects of the school community. We are united in the belief that all of our students can achieve a high standard of knowledge and performance.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors at P.S./I.S. 78Q are hands-on learners – they learn science by exploring and experimenting. Additionally, the 7th graders have a variety of talents and expertise – using their diversity as an asset for creative teamwork. Through this combination of scientific curiosity and collaboration, they are uniquely prepared to tackle the global issue of climate change.

Alexander Pistell is a science teacher for grades 6-8 at P.S. /I.S. 78Q. He is currently in his fourth year at the middle school, and every day his students impress him with their curiosity about the universe. Mr. Pistell became a teacher because of a lifelong love of science. A frequent visitor of the Museum of Natural History as a child, he eventually pursued biology at Cornell University, and began teaching in Shanghai, China in 2010. He has a Master's in Adolescent Education from St. John's University. In his free time, Mr. Pistell is a still a nerd. He idolizes effective science communicators such as Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. However, he still finds moments to enjoy basketball, rock climbing, and the great outdoors.

Robert Altenburger is a 7th & 8th grade ELA teacher in Long Island City, New York. He is also a current Masters student at CUNY Hunter, where he is studying full-time to earn his degree in Literacy. He discovered his passion for education during his years as an undergraduate at Stony Brook University, where he received his bachelor degree and teaching certificate in English. Teaching writing to young learners is his passion. It is how he believes we can foster the next generation of critical, self-aware individuals.


The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Migration and Gender Equality

The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (TYWLS-A) is grades 6-12, Title I, all-girls public school located in Queens. At TYWLS-A, students engage in a project-based learning curriculum that connects key concepts from core subject areas with real life applications. Students are consistently encouraged to develop their skills as leaders, collaborators, and critical thinkers. In their 7th grade Humanities classes, NYC Junior Ambassadors follow a combined English and Social Studies curriculum with a focus on early U.S. History. By learning how to become both communicative writers and evaluative historians, students better understand how the past impacts the present, as well as their individual roles in shaping the future.

Sylvia Kwon teaches 6th and 7th grade Humanities, as well as a 6th grade Software Engineering Program (SEP) class, at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria. She received her Master’s in English Education and Bachelors in English and American Literature at New York University. Ms. Kwon believes that while not every student loves to read, every student loves a good story; her goal is to find the one story in the one book that will transform reluctant students into lifelong readers who learn to wield the power of language to assess the world around them.


Virgil I Grissom Middle School (M.S. 226)

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Poverty

Virgil I. Grissom Middle School (M.S. 226) is a school focused on rigorous and engaging instruction located in South Ozone Park, Queens. The seventh grade NYC Junior Ambassadors class at M.S. 226 is comprised of 35 students who love engaging in hands on, creative work with real life context and relevance in their social studies course.  Their use of inquiry and student centered activities builds on student schema and their desire to be problem solvers not only in the classroom but beyond. As a result, the NYC Junior Ambassadors at M.S. 226 love to debate and discuss social issues beyond the scope of the classroom with solutions in mind. The administrators and educators at M.S. 226 work with their students to help them grow as thinkers, problem solvers, writers while also embracing their students’ diversity and creativity. M.S. 226 celebrates each student and has a growth mindset, working with their students to help them better themselves, their community and their world, through hard work and perseverance.

Sharon Stamile taught for several years on Long Island and has been with Virgil I. Grissom Middle School for the past two years as a social studies teacher. She was inspired to teach by her parents who had deep family history on Long Island and also in northern Europe. Mrs. Stamile saw the value in learning from the lessons and history of her family and the material past. Taking that inspiration, she graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology, and her Masters of Secondary Education in Social Studies shortly after, both from Hofstra University. Having spent time working at the American Museum of Natural History and pursuing her NYC sightseeing license, Mrs. Stamile’s appreciation for the diversity and deep history of New York is reflected in her classroom. She encourages her students to learn from the actions of the past, the wealth of resources available to them in NYC and to always continue their pursuit of knowledge outside of the classroom, as they are lifelong learners.


Marsh Avenue School For Expeditionary Learning

Borough: Staten Island
NYCJA Topic: Human Trafficking

Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School (MAELS) opened its doors in September 2008 as a public school of choice to serve the students of Staten Island. MAELS was founded on the ideals of Outward Bound, an international, non-profit, independent and outdoor-education organization, and organizes its curriculum around multidisciplinary learning expeditions. Academic achievement and character development are placed together at the core of the curriculum. The investment of each student, parent/guardian, teacher, and administrator in the design principles ensures the development of a unique and effective school. The students of MAELS are leaders in their community and show their leadership through their Compassion, Collaboration, Tolerance, and Courage.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors at MAELS are linguistic learners who enjoy engaging in discussion about issues facing our nation and world, and visual learners who enjoy examining issues through images and video. The students who will participate in this program are amazing examples of the character traits of MAELS and will bring these qualities, as well as their diverse perspectives, to their case study surrounding undocumented immigrants and refugees.

For the past four years, Kristen Mattina has been a proud teacher of social studies and began her career at the high school level. This year is Ms. Mattina's second year at Marsh Avenue School or Expeditionary Learning (MAELS), and she is excited to be working with middle school students.

The decision to become a teacher occurred four years ago while Ms. Mattina was working with a local Staten Island political party. While engaging with members of her local community, she came to realize the importance of community outreach and the necessity of informing fellow citizens of their rights and the steps they can take to have their voices heard. With this in mind, Ms. Mattina decided to give back to her community through education to inform young people of their role in their community and to recognize the power of their voice.

Ms. Mattina's educational training was completed at Brooklyn College, where she received an Advanced Certificate in Secondary Social Studies Education. Ms. Mattina also holds a Master's Degree in Political Science from Brooklyn College, and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Stony Brook University. Ms. Mattina is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Tina Marie Marra began her teaching career as a Social Studies teacher at MAELS in 2008, as a founding teacher. For the past three years, she has been the Assistant Principal. A graduate of St. John's University with a degree in adolescent education, Ms. Marra she received her Master's degree from St. Johns University in literacy, and a second Master's degree from Brooklyn College in school building leadership.


The Michael J. Petrides School

Borough: Staten Island
NYCJA Topic: Education and Human Rights

The Michael J. Petrides School is a seamless Pre-K through 12th grade school located in Staten Island committed to creating an environment for learning that nurtures the “whole child” – mind, body, and spirit. Teachers, parents, administrators, and support staff collaborate to provide an education that celebrates the diversity of our students and recognizes the individuality and creativity of each child. At the Petrides School, educators seek to cultivate youth into democratic citizens who will be morally motivated, politically conscious, and civically engaged agents of change. Using alternative strategies of a laboratory environment, the Petrides School integrates the arts into a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum and engages students in active learning, while developing students’ self-esteem and nurturing creative, life-long learners.

The Petrides NYC Junior Ambassador class consists of 25 curious, innovative, technologically savvy, and compassionate learners eager to engage in meaningful leadership opportunities that will prepare them for democratic participation and life. These empowered student leaders lead by example and learn by doing, work collaboratively and inclusively, dialogue across differences, and practice tolerance, empathy, and creativity in problem-solving. They exemplify the true notion of student-centered learning through taking collective action on issues or topics that are of importance to them while ensuring the voices of all genders and races are heard in their learning. Through the combination of deep dialoguing, experimentation with the digital tools of our rapidly shifting technological landscape, and the cultivation of a rich learning environment where we can fail forward together, these student learners are prepared to take on the challenges of human rights, education, and technology as they evolve into global collaborators and citizens.

Gary P. Giordano is a 7th-grade social studies and 8th-grade special education teacher at the Michael J. Petrides School as well as an alumnus. He is currently in his fourth year of teaching in the middle school component and is a proud James Madison Fellow for New York State. Mr. Giordano and his students are very grateful to have been afforded this civic engagement and experiential learning opportunity that will transcend and drive both of their educational journeys for many years to come. He seeks to do more than just teach students about global issues; he strives to provide the child with command of himself or herself through building, nurturing, and empowering their voice, a critical democratic skill. Mr. Giordano enjoys conducting Socratic Seminars with his students and crafting digitally enriched instruction that engages his 21st-century learners while achieving a high standard of historical knowledge. In short, he seeks to develop a love for learning with his Social Studies Scholars.

Mr. Giordano graduated with his Bachelors of Arts from Wagner College in History and Childhood/Special Education, Grades 1-6. He completed his Masters at Teachers College, Columbia University in Social Studies Education, Grades 7-12 and is currently pursuing his second Masters at Touro College in Educational Leadership.


2016-2017 NYCJA Cohort School Profiles

Accion Academy

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Climate Change

Accion Academy is a small middle school located in the central Bronx in proximity to Crotona Park. The seventh grade NYC Junior Ambassadors class at Accion is comprised of 42 students who love engaging in hands-on inquiry work in their science class and can share their ideas through discussion or writing. Accion students thrive when they can understand the real-world application behind their academic pursuits.

Hana Khan has been at Accion Academy for three years, ever since she began teaching through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. Ms. Khan grew up in Melville, Long Island and received her undergraduate degree from SUNY Binghamton. Following her undergraduate graduation in Spring 2013, she completed a service year tutoring recent immigrants through the Match Corps program. It was this experience that ignited a passion in Ms. Khan to pursue becoming an educator in a higher-needs area. She anticipates receiving her M.A. in Middle Childhood Education in Fall 2016 from Brooklyn College.


Bronx Park Middle School (X556)

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Diplomacy

Bronx Park Middle School is a small, innovative school that offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary college and career preparatory curriculum with a theme of applying content-specific learning to real-world contexts. Bronx Park Middle School educators help students grow as readers, writers, problem solvers, investigators, scientists, historians, and innovative creators and lead student mentorship resulting in professional, reflective, innovative, determined, and empathetic young adults with high self-esteems and a love for learning. Representing over 25 different countries throughout the world, students at Bronx Park learn by authentically confronting the world's challenges, and working together to produce viable solutions.

NYC Junior Ambassadors students at Bronx Park Middle School will connect their study of the United Nations, and its role in resolving international disputes, to their experience as NYC Junior Ambassadors.

Phil Hammack is the Assistant Principal at Bronx Park Middle School. Before assuming this role Mr. Hammack worked in a variety of capacities at Bronx Park, beginning his tenure as a special educator, then as a social studies teacher, and later as a Dean of Students before taking on his current position.

A product of New York City public schools, Mr. Hammack has taught Special Education and Social Studies in Brooklyn and the Bronx over the past 6 years. Mr. Hammack began his career as a New York City Teaching Fellow. He became a teacher because he personally benefited from having incredible teachers at New York City schools. He is passionate about providing those same opportunities to the next generation of our city's students.

Mr. Hammack recently completed a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership at Teacher's College, Columbia University. He holds a Master's Degree in Adolescent Education from Long Island University, and an Undergraduate Degree in Political Science from New York University.

Kristen Kirby grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. Her father, a PE teacher, and her mother, a kindergarten teacher, raised their four daughters to be strong and caring individuals. They also taught their daughters the importance of a strong work ethic, as they ran a Day Camp in the summer for children. Ms. Kirby used to visit her parents while they taught, attended the day camp as a child, and then worked as a counselor. Ms. Kirby's favorite memories are watching her parents work and helping the children learn and have fun all at the same time. She believed if she became a teacher she could combine the joy of camp to the learning in the classroom.

After majoring in English at James Madison University, she then received her master's in Special Education from Lesley University. She worked as a 6th grade English teacher for 3 years, and became a special education teacher for 8th graders for two years, in her home town of Medfield. After moving to New York City, Ms. Kirby began teaching English at Bronx Park Middle School. This is her third year at Bronx Park, where she now serves as the 8th grade team leader. She is humbled to have earned the teacher of the year last year, which is voted on by her students. She also continues to work at the day camp her parents started, where she is now the assistant director.


Castle Hill Middle School (J.H.S. 127)

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Sustainable Development

Castle Hill Middle School 127 strives to educate students to become informed participants in a democratic society. By exploring history and investigating social, and political issues, educators help students to be informed about the topics that are important to our local and global community. Castle Hill Middle School's curriculum is designed thematically rather than chronologically in order for students to gain a deeper understanding of historical events and how they still affect people today. The coursework empowers students to take responsibility for their own learning through student-centered activities.

Kaylee Montazella has been teaching sixth grade social studies for the past three years. Currently she is working at Castle Hill Middle School in the Bronx, New York. Ms. Montazella chose to become a teacher after working with children and realizing she could make a difference in a child's life. She has a strong passion to educate young minds and help them blossom into well-rounded, responsible and successful individuals. She obtained her undergraduate degree from SUNY New Paltz and completed her master's degree at Lehman College.


Hyde Leadership Charter School

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Sustainable Development

The mission of Hyde Leadership Charter School in the South Bronx is to develop the deeper character and unique potential of each student. Hyde 7th graders (the Class of 2022) are eager for the opportunity to lead whether in their class, school, or community. Students in our class have participated in community service projects, sports teams, cheerleading, pep band, National Junior Honor Society, are members of the debate team, student council representatives, are part of the "Green Team," which supports recycling endeavors at our school, and some students were even invited to the White House. As learners, they are determined and resilient and excel in project-based learning. Our class creatively approaches their learning, and they are solution minded. Our students are curious about the world and want to learn more about different backgrounds and cultures. Hyde 7th graders have many interests, ranging from politics, books, technology, arts, cooking, and sports. Lastly, our incredible students have a strong sense of community and compassion for each other. They are courageous in standing up for what they believe is right.

Valarie Hunsinger is a passionate library media specialist at Hyde Leadership Charter School in the South Bronx. For the past nine years, Ms. Hunsinger has been dedicated to both literacy and technology opportunities for her students ranging from experiential book clubs, empowering millionaire readers (reading over a million words in a year) to using Google Classroom for research and even virtual reality. Developing global citizens is also very important to her; especially looking for different ways students can learn about cultural diversity, build awareness, and global issues. One of her favorite events was bringing students together from schools in the community to discuss Malala Yousafzai's book and her courageous work. She also serves as Library Director for the Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project, where she builds and manages libraries all over Africa including Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. She is a member of AASL and a member of the ALA International Relations Committee—Africa Subcommittee. She was a recipient of a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Scholarship. She has written for School Library Monthly, Knowledge Quest, and International Leads. She is also an executive committee member for the Day of Knowledge Conference in the Dominican Republic. Ms. Hunsinger has a BA in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College and an MA in Education and School Library and Information Technology from Mansfield University.

Whitney Helton is a received a degree in Political Science and a minor in African Studies from Pennsylvania State University. During her time at Pennsylvania State University, she held consecutive internships at the Department of Justice, Washington D.C. under Loretta Lynch and the Attorney General's Office of Pennsylvania. After graduating, Ms. Helton accepted an offer from Teach For America, a program that fights inequalities within education. Ms. Helton Currently holds a first-year teaching position as the 6th and 7th-grade social studies teacher. She became a teacher because of her passion for education, specifically education in urbanized areas. Ms. Helton's hope is that one-day education will be equal for all students.

Faatima Campbell is one of Hyde Leadership Charter School 7th grade English Language Arts Teachers. She earned her undergraduate degree in business administration from Concordia College. In 2011, she participated in NYU Steinhardt's Education and Social Reform program. For six weeks, she lived in South Africa where she studied the link between education, juvenile delinquency, and the importance of after-school programming. The knowledge and experience obtained while studying inspired her to continue her research and pursue a career in education. The mission of her ELA class is to empower students to articulate their inner voice in all forms of critical thinking and problem solving relevant to college and career readiness as change agents. Throughout the year the classroom strives to build confidence through the process of consistent practice, with knowledge, skills, and resources to achieve each student's full potential.


Icahn Charter School 4

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Human Rights and Gender Equality

Located in the Bronx and serving 324 students, Icahn Charter School 4 is a national blue ribbon school and part of a seven-school network. At Icahn Charter School 4, students learn and grow in a learner-active, technology-infused environment. The 7th grade class of Icahn Charter School 4 consists of highly motivated students who largely identify as people of color. NYC Junior Ambassadors at Icahn Charter School 4 are deeply interested in the world's crises and current events, and want to investigate how both currently affect them and will continue to affect them in the future, as well as in investigating and promoting social justice. As a mix of visual and kinetic learners, NYC Junior Ambassadors at Icahn Charter School 4 benefit from interactive and multimodal learning experiences.

Joshua M. Katz was born on Long Island, New York. Even at a very young age, he took a great interest in social studies, politics and current affairs, quickly finding his passion. Following his graduation from Ward Melville High School (Setauket, NY) in 2005, Mr. Katz then attended York College of Pennsylvania, where he received his Bachelor's degree in American History, graduating with honors in 2009. Mr. Katz worked as an intern at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, finding his true passion: helping others by working with children in a scholastic setting. In 2012, Mr. Katz graduated with his Masters of Education from Dowling College, specializing in social studies grades 5-12. After working as a Teaching Assistant at Ward Melville High School, specializing in social studies grades 11-12, Mr. Katz began working as a middle school social studies teacher at Icahn Charter School 4, where he has been teaching social studies to students in grades 7-8 since March of 2016.


One World Middle School at Edenwald

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Children's Rights

One World Middle School at Edenwald (OWMS) was founded in 2010 as a small school committed to understanding 'who' the child is in order to teach them. OWMS is dedicated to creating a respectful environment where diversity is celebrated and individuals learn and flourish by developing character, intellect, wellness and a desire for lifelong learning.

All students at OWMS will graduate with the ability to be a personal leader, a community activist and an Ambassador of Change. Similar to the United Nations charter, all cultures are celebrated at One World Middle School, real issues are discussed, and we will provide an on-going platform for dialogue. Leaders, activists and ambassadors have a common thread in that they communicate clearly and appropriately for the audience and message. At One World students and teachers are guided by principles similar to the United Nations, seeking to maintain a place of peace and security, to develop friendly relations among communities and to cooperate in solving problems and in promoting respect for human rights.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors classroom at One World Middle School consists of 25 students/delegates, comprised of English language learners, ASD Nest students and other IEP students. As a class, visual, aural, kinesthetic and linguistic learners are active learners. The inclusion of students on the autism spectrum via the NEST Program, has created a class and whole school environment focused on high academic standards with an emphasis on building social skills including empathy and perspective taking. NEST practices afford all of the students at One World Middle School time to focus on their development as academic and social beings of merit and purpose, therefore, the students are passionate about their roles as needed activists.

Carol Lewis is a 7th grade teacher at the One World Middle School in the Bronx. Before becoming a New York City teacher 10 years ago, she engaged students and educators as an author in residence at several middle schools in the Bronx, and Rockland County, New York. Ms. Lewis also published a novel The Flights of Annie. She also spent her formative years as a teacher at I.S. 162 where she taught for one year in a juvenile detention center. Ms. Lewis has a background in advocacy and activism. She graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland before becoming a New York City Teaching Fellow. While working for the Center for Constitutional Rights, she wrote the educational pamphlets that explained the social and political backstories to pivotal civil rights litigation. These experiences inspired Ms. Lewis to find a "home" to grow a new course.

Ms. Lewis is a member of the ASD Nest Task Force, an entity researches, develops and practices strategies to support the academic and social needs of students on the spectrum. This work is fundamental in engaging all of her students, including special needs, English language learners. Ms. Lewis is currently at work developing new ways to engage students in their own grace and power while finding time to write her next novel.


The Academy of Applied Math and Technology (M.S. 343)

Borough: Bronx
NYCJA Topic: Refugees (South Sudan)

The Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology (M.S. 343), is a community of learners who respect and support each other. Staff and parents accept, address, and meet the needs of the students in an interactive atmosphere of learning and creativity. The school develops the students' intellect and character while guiding individual adolescents to become life-long learners. The foundation of the school is student-centered. Critical thinking skills, decision-making skills and effective communication are the educational objective of our learning community. Likewise, the goal of educators is to nurture a community of leaders in preparing students for their march through the 21st century.

Elizabeth Chavez is a Special Education teacher in an Integrated Co-Teaching classroom, and teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grades English and Social Studies. She received her Masters of Education from Hunter College as a corps member of Teach For America, and is in her fourth year teaching at The Academy of Applied Math and Technology (AAMT). Ms. Chavez and her co-teacher focus on incorporating students' different learning styles and multiple intelligences to into their lessons in order to allow all their students to feel successful. They believe in helping their students become creative writers by providing opportunities to write poetry, songs, and short stories. They also believe in the importance of helping their students become global citizens, placing a strong emphasis on educating their students about important aspects of United States History, World History, Geography, and current events, as well as fostering a mindset of acceptance of differences among world cultures. Ms. Chavez became a teacher because she believes that educating people—both children and adults—is the most effective way to create positive change in our world. She loves her students and believes in their potential to all be successful if they are inspired and consistently supported as they grow. She strongly believes that programs like NYC Junior Ambassadors will teach students to become global citizens and inspire them to become young leaders who can set a good example for their peers, and learn to believe that they are powerful and capable of create change no matter how young they are.

Marisol Palau is a School Counselor at M.S. 343 for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. She received her Masters of Science in Education with a concentration in Bilingual School Counseling from Saint John's University in 2008. She began her career as a College and Career Counselor in a Charter High School in Washington Heights and became a member of the M.S. 343 team in 2013. She is currently in her 8th year as a school counselor. In addition to counseling students Ms. Palau is also the Softball coach and Athletic Director of M.S. 343. She places a lot of emphasis on athletics because she believes that participating in sports is the best way to learn valuable life lessons that will inform success in all facets of life. Ms. Palau grew up in the South Bronx and her mission in life is to be a positive influence in the life of young people. She wants all her students to know they can achieve greatness in spite of their environment and more importantly because of their environment. She lives her life in a way that will be an example to the young people she serves. Because Ms. Palau serves as the school counselor for all 300 students at M.S. 343, her students span the spectrum of academic abilities, learning styles, temperament, mental health status, and ambition. She loves all of her students and makes sure she knows each one by name and their stories.


Children of Promise, NYC

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Criminal Justice/ Education/ Freedom

Children of Promise, NYC is the first and only after-school program and summer day camp specifically designed to meet the needs, interests and concerns of children left behind by parents serving time in prison. Since its inception, Children of Promise has provided services to over 1,000 children and their families. The agency has developed broad collaborative relationships and community partnerships, raised over $5M dollars in government and philanthropic funding and established its own innovative and holistic model to support children of incarcerated parents in leading healthy and productive lives.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Children of Promise, NYC are primarily rhythmic, linguistic, visual and kinesthetic learners. Although, her students have been traumatized by parental incarceration, they are determined to overcome their traumatic experiences and lead a meaningful, productive and healthy life. As participants in this program, they will have the opportunity to have a voice, let the world know their story and be an example within their community and beyond. They are eager to explore the United Nations as well as learn how they can truly benefit from this program in spite of the circumstances they face every day as a "forgotten population".

Sherrilee Moore has dedicated the last ten years of her life primarily to service in education, namely through her involvement in both educational and language immersion programs in different countries. As a result she fluently speaks four languages, with the strong desire to learn more, and acquired strong interpersonal and personal flexibility skills, significantly broadening her perspective on cultures and peoples of the world. All of this has ignited her passion for education and youth development. Ms. Moore currently works as an Educational and Mentor Program Specialist at Children of Promise, NYC, located in Brooklyn, NY.


East New York Middle School of Excellence

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Refugees and Art

Success without excuses! This is the mantra at the East New York Middle School of Excellence (ENYMSE), and it embodies all of the school's core values. ENYMSE is committed to maintaining positive relationships with our students, staff, parents and community members. The success of ENYMSE lies in the social, emotional and academic achievement of the student body. Duty. Responsibility. Empowerment. These are the cornerstones of ENYMSE and the school provides a world-class education that will motivate, excite and uplift not only the students and staff at ENYMSE, but also the community we serve.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors at ENYMSE are a diverse classroom with students who learn in many different ways. The students love to debate and argue social issues until they feel they created a solution that will help the people involved. The class is filled with students from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Many families have roots that go deep into American history while some have just immigrated here within the past few years, yet all are passionate to make the world a better place for all people.

Christopher Guidarelli has been teaching for six years. Five of those were at PS 307 in the Vinegar Hill section of Brooklyn teaching special education. More recently, Mr. Guidarelli has currently begun a new journey teaching Humanities in to 7th graders at East New York Middle School of Excellence. He was inspired to teach after watching his cousin with disabilities struggle through public school and wanted to ensure that students with disabilities could succeed in school. Mr. Guidarelli decided to teach middle school after the frustration of seeing his old students become disinterested in school during the middle school years; he wanted to ensure that his students stayed interested throughout middle school.

Mr. Guidarelli graduated from Buffalo State as a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Student Achievement Recipient. He received the Lynn McKnaught award for teaching excellence award for his work with Horizons National, a summer enrichment program for students of economic disadvantage. Mr. Guidarelli is creative, able to play a few instruments, is an aspiring photographer and loves to travel.


The Boerum Hill School for International Studies

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Migration and Refugees

The Boerum Hill School for International Studies is currently an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school that prides itself on taking risks and developing innovative solutions that impact the world. Through the use of critical and creative thinking skills, our students appreciate different cultures and respect the values and rights of people everywhere. The International Baccalaurete (IB) Middle Years Programme is designed to help students find a sense of belonging in the ever-changing and increasingly interconnected world around them, and to foster a positive attitude to learning. The NYC Junior Ambassadors class at the Boerum Hill School for International Studies is made up of a variety of learners that are from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and who enjoy working with technology and in groups.

Mark Isakson, a native of Seattle, Washington, has been teaching English at the Secondary level for 11 years since graduating with a Masters in Teaching from the University of Washington, where he also graduated with a BA in English. Before pursuing a career in education, Mr. Isakson spent several years teaching skiing and guitar, and both activities motivated him to explore teaching as a profession. Since moving to New York City in 2014, he has been teaching English at the Boerum Hill School for International Studies, and this year began teaching a blended English and History course with his co-teacher, Jonathan Macri. Prior to his teaching in New York, Mr. Isakson spent 8 years teaching English and Journalism in the Seattle area, where his students regularly won national recognition for their work.

Jonathan Macri is a second year Special Education teacher who is in the process of obtaining his Masters from Long Island University as a member of the 26th Cohort of the NYC Teaching Fellows. Formerly a civil attorney who did trial work for plaintiffs following his graduation from Fordham Law School, Mr. Macri became a teacher to fulfill his passion for giving back to those who need it most, and has found a home at International as a middle school language and literature teacher. He loves spending time with his students both inside and outside of the classroom, and find the connections he makes with his students to be the best part of his job.


The Montauk (I.S. 223)

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Water and Geology

The Montauk (I.S. 223) is a middle school in Boro Park, Brooklyn. It serves many students who are immigrants to the United States and has a highly diverse student body, with about 62% of students of Asian descent and 25% Hispanic descent. Almost a third of students are English Language Learners. The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Montauk (I.S. 223), will learn about the importance of water in the world, about people who are suffering from a water shortage and how a lack of clean water and proper sanitation affects people in different parts of the world through an enhanced science curriculum. In addition, they will learn how we get water and what happens to waste water when we are done with it.

Jeff Utz grew up in northeast Pennsylvania. He went to the University of Scranton where he majored in biology and psychobiology. After that, he attended Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, studying medicine and neuroscience. He was a pediatric resident in Lansing, MI. Following that, he conducted research at Hahnemann University writing a computer simulation of the rat for touch sensation. He became a software engineer at Juno Online Services in Times Square, New York City. Five years later, he entered the NYC Department of Education as a teaching fellow. He has taught science at IS 172 in West Harlem and the Academy of Business and Community Development in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn where he coached chess, soccer and flag rugby. Now, he is a middle school science teacher and chess coach at the Montauk. Dr. Utz has been teaching close to 10 years; this is his fourth year at the Montauk.


NIA Afterschool at the Christa McAuliffe School (I.S. 187)

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Democracy

Along with an administration and colleagues of the highest caliber, the Christa McAuliffe School (I.S. 187) strives to go beyond a simple recitation of dates and names. The focus is teaching how to analyze history for a deeper meaning. Students are taught the skills needed to properly interpret and question both the history and the politics of our nation. As the Christa McAuliffe School (I.S. 187) is a school for the gifted and talented, a high standard of performance is expected. The students do not disappoint, displaying all aspects of proficient learning styles (visual, audio, tactile, etc.), on their journey of discovery.

John Meredith's passion for history and politics began at an early age. As the son of a politically active mother, Mr. Meredith was exposed to the democratic process from the beginning. At the age of ten, he was shaking hands with the cream of Missouri Republican politics, including a future Cabinet member in the George W. Bush administration.

The passion for history and politics never wavered and Mr. Meredith has brought that passion to his teaching of American History at the Christa McAuliffe Intermediate School (I.S. 187) in Brooklyn, New York. He enjoys inspiring genuine curiosity about history and encourages his students to use what they've learned to be more informed and engaged citizens.

Over the past seven years, John Patrick Hederman has worked with the NIA Community Services Network to bring quality afterschool education to New York City's public schools. As director of the program at Christa McAuliffe, he spearheads initiatives in literacy, technology, physical fitness, and the arts.
His own attendance of Stuyvesant High School makes him uniquely qualified to understand the needs of his student body (where in 2016, 89% of graduates have gone on to attend NYC's specialized high schools). Following his graduation from Stuyvesant, Mr. Hederman then went on to attend CUNY's Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College where he majored in Music Theory and graduated Cum Laude. Music and the arts remain his most passionate foci and he is a teacher of piano, guitar, and vocal music.


Robert Fulton School (P.S./M.S. 8)

Borough: Brooklyn
NYCJA Topic: Interdisciplinary/Indigenous Peoples Rights

The students at Robert Fulton School (P.S./M.S. 8) are excited when learning about the world and always engage in conversations where they further each other's thinking. They are primarily from the downtown Brooklyn area and have deep pride in being from Brooklyn! In the classroom, they enjoy group work, projects, and discussions that connect to their lives and the bigger world.

Janice Manning is a 7th grade Special Education and Social Studies teacher at the Robert Fulton School in Downtown Brooklyn. She has worked as a New York City teacher for the last 12 years in grades 3-8 in a variety of special education settings and has her National Board Certification for students with Exceptional Needs. Ms. Manning is a teacher because she believes that creating classrooms where students are empowered to make the world a better place will strengthen our society as a whole. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Texas Christian University (2000) for Elementary Education and her Master's Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University (2004) for Teaching Students with Learning disabilities. Ms. Manning was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine from 2001-2003.


Nathan Straus School (P.S. 140)

Borough: Manhattan
NYCJA Topic: Debate/World Hunger

The NYC Junior Ambassadors from P.S. 140 Nathan Straus School, representing two 7th grade classes, are dynamic, inquisitive, and motivated. There are many visual learners in this group who benefit from graphic organizers as well as kinesthetic learners who benefit from working hands-on with their peers. Students in the 7th grade class work well with clear structure, they appreciate directions broken up into smaller steps and they welcome frequent check-ins from adults. This year, they are using Socratic Seminars to review texts, generate ideas for writing, improve critical thinking and practice communication skills. The seminars are a means to greater self-reflection, peer evaluation, elaboration and clarification in writing. In the next marking period, they will practice debates and public speaking for the first time.

Stacey Bancone is a Humanities teacher in her fifth year at P.S. 140 Nathan Straus, where she also teaches Italian and film electives and coaches debate. She started her career in 1994 as an English teacher at John Adams High School in Queens, moved to Island Trees High School and left to become an ELA Chairperson at Copiague Middle School. For five years thereafter, she studied at the University of Siena and worked as Secretary for the Centre for the Study of Political Change, where she cultivated her interest in international relations and wrote the UN's World Food Programme annual report for Italy. Ms. Bancone hopes her students will not only develop debate and speech-writing skills, but that they will feel like part of a world community in which they can make a difference. She holds a Master of Science in Education from Queens College, CUNY, a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Touro College in New York and a Master of Arts in European Studies from the Universities of Bath, England and Siena, Italy. She has been listed in Who's Who Among American Teachers and was presented with the Lifesaver's Humanitarian Award.

Gayle Davis began her career as a special education teacher in 2014 at P.S.140 Nathan Straus. She currently teaches Humanities in integrated co-teaching classrooms. Additionally, she teaches Moot Court and Chess electives and serves as a co-coach for the competitive debate team. Ms. DavisMs. Davis's hope for each of her students is that they not only learn the content area, but that they become lifelong learners who are curious and imaginative global citizens. Education is a second career for Ms. Davis. Prior to fulfilling her desire to become a teacher, she was a prosecuting attorney for the City of New York. She holds a bachelor's degree from Long Island University, a Juris Doctorate degree from Hofstra University School of Law, a Master's degree in Ethics from Drew University and a Master's of Education degree from Metropolitan College of New York.


The Mott Hall School (M.S. 223)

Borough: Manhattan
NYCJA Topic: Diplomacy and International Cooperation

The Mott Hall School (MS 223) is a public middle school in District 6 serving students from Upper Manhattan. Mott Hall is a New York State Reward school for high academic achievement as well as being a Federal Title 1 school where the majority of its students are economically disadvantaged. Most of the students at the school are either first generation Americans or recent immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Central America. The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Mott Hall are particularly interested in studying the U.S. Constitution and the 2016 Presidential election.

Martin O'Shea has been a New York City public school teacher since 2013. He teaches Social Studies and Special Education at the Mott Hall School in Harlem. Prior to becoming a teacher, Mr. O'Shea worked for several years on Wall Street. He is a lifelong New Yorker and a graduate of the city's parochial schools, Fordham University and Brooklyn College. This summer Mr. O'Shea and his wife became the proud parents of a baby boy.


Al-Ihsan Academy (AIA/PSW After-School Program)

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Climate Change

The NYC Junior Ambassadors from Al-Ihsan Academy (AIA/PSW After-School Program) are primarily from immigrant families originally from the Caribbean and West Indies. These are active young people with a thirst for hands-on learning and a desire to move beyond the traditional classroom setting. They are very community-oriented, enthusiastic visual learners who love sports and welcome new challenges.

In education for more than two decades, Riyaad Siddique's passion for STEM has led him through various teaching and administrative roles where he has shared his own curiosity and enthusiasm for inquiry with young people, especially those who lack the opportunity to explore. He has now been associated with Al-Ihsan Academy in Queens, NY for the past 10 years as a teacher, STEM leader and administrator.

Mr. Siddique earned a Masters in School Leadership from St. Johns University and is now piloting his school's first First Lego League team as one of several enrichments as Director of his after-school program. He and his team of seasoned educators are proud to join the NYC Junior Ambassadors.


Queens Collegiate: A College Board School

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Climate Change

Queens Collegiate is a 6-12 grade school in Jamaica, Queens within the Jamaica High School campus. The school's vision is to graduate every student with an understanding of global issues through active learning and participation in community events. The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Queens Collegiate are very curious about science and how it affects them. They have many interests ranging from astronomy, climate change, conservation, pollution, technology, and sports science. The students love to learn through reading, videos, simulations, and hands-on activities. Many of these students are also active participants in the Science Club, the Sustainability Club, Model UN, and many other after-school programs through community organizations.

Mandeep Singh is a middle school and high school science teacher at Queens Collegiate: A College Board School. He has taught all 5 years of his teaching career at Queens Collegiate. Mr. SinghMr. Singh is a third-generation teacher; his father and grandfather were teachers and administrators in Punjab, India. He grew up with extended family members who taught the poor and the disadvantaged in rural villages and has now continued that duty for disadvantaged students in Queens, New York.

Mr. Singh graduated with his Bachelors and Master's degrees in Science from Binghamton University. He completed his Master's in Education at Pace University through the NYC Teaching Fellows program.


The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School (P.S./I.S. 78Q)

Borough: Queens
NYCJA Topic: Climate change

The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School (P.S./I.S. 78Q) is one of the most successful K-8 schools in New York City. It provides a "world class education" with a special focus on the arts and technology. The parents, teachers and school community work to achieve excellence in education for all students in an exciting, enriched and safe environment that mirrors a concern for children, an emphasis on staff development and the inclusion of all aspects of the school community. We are united in the belief that all of our students can achieve a high standard of knowledge and performance.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors at P.S./I.S. 78Q are hands-on learners – they learn science by exploring and experimenting. Additionally, the 7th graders have a variety of talents and expertise – using their diversity as an asset for creative teamwork. Through this combination of scientific curiosity and collaboration, they are uniquely prepared to tackle the global issue of climate change.

Alexander Pistell is a science teacher for grades 6-8 at P.S. /I.S. 78Q. He is currently in his third year at the middle school, and every day his students impress him with their curiosity about the universe. Mr. Pistell became a teacher because of a lifelong love of science. A frequent visitor of the Museum of Natural History as a child, he eventually pursued biology at Cornell University, and began teaching in Shanghai, China in 2010. He has a Master's in Adolescent Education from St. John's University. In his free time, Mr. Pistell is a still a nerd. He idolizes effective science communicators such as Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. However, he still finds moments to enjoy basketball, rock climbing, and the great outdoors.


Marsh Avenue School For Expeditionary Learning

Borough: Staten Island
NYCJA Topic: Refugees

Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School (MAELS) opened its doors in September 2008 as a public school of choice to serve the students of Staten Island. MAELS was founded on the ideals of Outward Bound, an international, non-profit, independent and outdoor-education organization, and organizes its curriculum around multidisciplinary learning expeditions. Academic achievement and character development are placed together at the core of the curriculum. The investment of each student, parent/guardian, teacher, and administrator in the design principles ensures the development of a unique and effective school. The students of MAELS are leaders in their community and show their leadership through their Compassion, Collaboration, Tolerance, and Courage.

The NYC Junior Ambassadors at MAELS are linguistic learners who enjoy engaging in discussion about issues facing our nation and world, and visual learners who enjoy examining issues through images and video. The students who will participate in this program are amazing examples of the character traits of MAELS and will bring these qualities, as well as their diverse perspectives, to their case study surrounding undocumented immigrants and refugees.

For the past three years, Kristen Mattina has been a proud teacher of social studies and began her career at the high school level. This year is Ms. Mattina's first year at Marsh Avenue School or Expeditionary Learning (MAELS), and she is excited to be working with middle school students.

The decision to become a teacher occurred four years ago while Ms. Mattina was working with a local Staten Island political party. While engaging with members of her local community, she came to realize the importance of community outreach and the necessity of informing fellow citizens of their rights and the steps they can take to have their voices heard. With this in mind, Ms. Mattina decided to give back to her community through education to inform young people of their role in their community and to recognize the power of their voice.

Ms. Mattina's educational training was completed at Brooklyn College, where she received an Advanced Certificate in Secondary Social Studies Education. Ms. Mattina also holds a Master's Degree in Political Science from Brooklyn College, and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Stony Brook University. Ms. Mattina is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.


Miraj Islamic School

Borough: Staten Island
NYCJA Topic: Gender Inequality/Women's Leadership and Political Participation

Miraj Islamic School is a small school that has fewer than 300 students with hardworking administrators and staff. Since the graduation of its first 12th graders in 2010, the school has seen a 100% of its graduates enroll as students in colleges and universities. The student curriculum combines Islamic knowledge coupled with modern science that will enable them to be better citizens of America and to serve humanity in general. The NYC Junior Ambassadors at Miraj Islamic School are excellent learners and are very curious to know new knowledge and information. They are always motivated and encouraged to do their best in whatever they do. We are positive that they will be leaders in the future.

Sr. Aisha Slaimi is a 7th grade Math and Science teacher at Miraj Islamic School. She has been teaching Math and Science for 3 years. She earned her B.A degree at Tulane University in Financial Management and Administration. She enjoys working with children and helping them reach for their dreams through their education. She uses Math and Science as tools to understand and interpret our world, and be successful 21st century learners. She believes every child should be valued and treated with respect. She became a teacher because she feels education should empower a child and help him or her make a positive contribution to our world.

Brima Sylla is a Social Studies teacher who teaches at Miraj Islamic School. He joined the school in 2011. He has been teaching at Miraj Islamic School for six years. He earned his Master's degree at City College in New York majoring in International Relations. Currently, he is working on his PhD dissertation at Walden University in Public Policy. He was selected by the College Board to correct AP US History and AP Global History courses in Colorado in 2009. He loves teaching students US History, Global History, Economics, Civics, AP US History and AP Global History. He is very interested in teaching in order to help students understand that societies are dynamic and not static and that change can come when individuals take action to make positive changes in their communities. In the long run, these changes can have positive impacts around the world. He loves to motivate and encourage students to consider education as a key to human creativity, enlightenment and development.