Ms. Erin E. Gehant, Principal
I've wanted to have a positive impact on public education since my junior year at the University of Florida. That year, I spent my Spring Break, not at the beaches with my peers, but with a small group of volunteers who drove north from Florida to Jackson, Mississippi to volunteer in a low-income public elementary school. I was instantly drawn to the possibilities for leveraging public education as a way to make great societal change. I finished out my undergraduate career studying international education policy and began my exploration into the opportunities for students through Career and Technical Education.
When I graduated with from UF (with a B.A. in Political Science), I decided that I wanted real experience in public education and decided to move to New York City and join the NYC Teaching Fellows. I became a math teacher at Automotive High School (a CTE school), as I completed my M.S.T. in Adolescent Mathematics at Pace University. I was encouraged to pursue a degree in leadership and soon enrolled in the Principal’s Institute at Bank Street College, where I went on to receive a MSEd in Leadership for Educational Change.
I began developing the proposal for the Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce in September 2012, realizing my dream to create a school that will provide students with great, authentic opportunities after graduation with pathways into a successful and fruitful future.
Ms. Twinkle Muzamali, Career & Technical Education
Yes, my real name is Twinkle, ask my parents why they did it! Both of them are educators in NYC, as well as my older brother, some uncles, aunts and cousins. I suppose this is where my deep value and passion for education came from.
I attended John Bowne High School in Queens where was enrolled in a CTE program for Agricultural Science. Here I worked on the school farm which contained acres of land that grew all types of delicious fruits and veggies and barns with several animals including rabbits and chickens. I gained invaluable work experience in my school's Agriculture Shop where I would spend my lunch period selling the produce we cultivated, including the eggs from the chickens. I also got to drive a tractor! I had the opportunity to intern my weekends and summers at various jobs such as the CUNY Queens College Science Labs, NYC Police Headquarters, Queens Supreme Court House and New York Aquarium. All of this was accomplished by the time I graduated high school, all because of the amazing CTE program I was enrolled in. I Love CTE.
I received a B.A in Media Communications and Film Studies at CUNY Queens College and worked in business management, digital design and media communications. My most significant career experience has been creating the foundation for a successful fashion e-commerce business. After many years of work and life experience, I realized what I valued most was not money, fame or power, but education and community, so I decided to become a CTE teacher. My goal as an educator is to evoke enthusiasm in students to become life-long learners who take pride in themselves and the community around them. I believe that being a teacher is more than just about teaching a specific subject, it is about influencing positive inner change inside a student in need, and to be able to transform the world around them.
I am excited to start this school year at UASGC and honored to be a part of a diverse talented and dedicated team.
Mr. James Suescun, Mathematics
Mathematics has always been a passion of mine.
I attended CUNY Queens College to become a mathematics teacher after I had discovered that sharing mathematics with others was personally rewarding. Helping others understand the complexities of mathematics brings me satisfaction. My time at Queens College has enabled me to make connections with the real-world to mathematics and make mathematics relevant to my audience.
I am a first generation American; my family originates from Colombia. I am very proud of my Colombian background. My passion for soccer stems from the fact that soccer is a big part of my Hispanic culture. I am excited to be a part of the Urban Assembly of Global Commerce and I hope to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed.
Ms. Aditi Shah, Living Environment & A.P. Psychology
Growing up right next to the Everglades helped me discover my love for nature and appreciation our beautiful planet Earth. I majored in Psychobiology at the University of Miami (Go Canes!) with an academic scholarship. During that time, I worked for the Princeton Review as an SAT and MCAT instructor, helping high school and college students achieve their dreams.That was my first experience in education, and I loved it. After graduation, I worked in a Neuroscience lab for the Miami Project, and then moved to London to represent the British Red Cross as well as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
In 2010, I decided to make a move from sunny South Florida to the Big Apple after I received acceptance in the NYC Teaching Fellows program. I worked at the Urban Assembly for Applied Math and Science in the South Bronx while earning my Master’s in Science at Lehman College. There, I had the good fortune of working with Erin Gehant, the future principal of Global Commerce. Together, we created a STEM curriculum for high school students. In 2014, I decided to move forward with my career and join the UASGC family. I currently teach Living Environment (Biology), Earth Science, and AP Psychology. I have earned a fellowship as Master Teacher at Math for America and ‘model teacher’ status through the NYC Dept. of Education.
I believe that all students can learn and find a love for science. It takes diligence in their work ethic, a collaborative outlook, and respect of the learning process. All of these embody the values of Global Commerce. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling all over the world, going to the park with Don and Oliver (my dogs), and cooking.
Mr. Joshua Modeste, Living Environment and Earth Science
Have you ever heard of the Rose that grew from the concrete? Well that poem has two meanings for me. I was born and raised in New York City, specifically the Bronx. My love for science was planted through visiting my mom at work as a child. She worked for a well-known doctor who was in charge of many research labs throughout NYC. I was exposed to a true scientific environment which included lab coats, beakers, data, and, although not the safest idea, even learned how to use some of the expensive equipment that real scientists used! This gave me a better context for what I was learning in school and my sentiment for science blossomed.
My parents, who migrated to the U.S. from Trinidad, instilled the importance of Education in my brothers and I. They did their best to provide every opportunity they could with their limited resources. I took this passion for Science and Education upstate to SUNY Plattsburgh, where I received my combined BA/MST in Biology and Adolescent Education in 2016. Throughout my time at Plattsburgh State I cultivated a specific interest in Botany, which is the study of Plants. I realized how much we rely on plant-based products and how much we can take them for granted, especially in a concrete-jungle like NYC. As a new teacher at UASGC, I hope to share my love for science with my students and show them that despite how difficult it may seem, a rose can still grow from the concrete and with hard work and persistence, they can be that rose.
Mr. Christian Hill, Global History
I was born in the Bronx, but I grew up in the suburbs of Rockland County.
I spent most of my time playing sports and video games. My friends and I were also really into sneakers during our teenage years. We would always try to get the new Jordan’s. In fact, sometimes we would wait for hours in line in order to make sure we could have them before everyone else. I consider myself somewhat of a retired “Sneaker Head” now. I’m also a diehard Jets, Mets, and Nets fan, so you can say I’m used to disappointment.
I graduated from Iona College in 2012 with my B.A. in History and I finished my M.A. in Adolescent Education at Hunter College in May 2014. I think my favorite moment teaching was when I helped a number of my summer school students pass the Global History regents. It was a lot of work, but the end result made it worthwhile.
Mr. Shane McAndrew, Global History
I'm coming to teach at Global Commerce after working in education advocacy and teaching in Vermont for the past eight years. I had the privilege of being able to teach freshmen how to resolve conflict, develop social skills, and survive in the wilderness. This included teaching kids how to make a fire without a match and make primitive knives from stone. I've also been able to marry my work as a mediator with my teaching practice through embedding conflict resolution skills in curriculum.
I'm really excited to continue this work at UASGC. Some of my proudest moments teaching are when I see students integrate conflict resolution practices into their daily lives. I love it when students feel empowered to lean into a new learning opportunity and take safe-risks.
Mr. Xavier Gallon-Blackman, U.S. History
As cliche as it sounds, I really believe in the old adage, "you can't know where you're going, unless you know where you've been" and it's belief that strongly drives my passion for history education. I'm originally from Philadelphia, PA, but ever since I can remember, I have always been attracted by the allure of the Big Apple. I moved to the city to attend St. John's University where I received my B.A. in Political Science (2013) and my M.S. in Adolescent Education (2015).
In my spare time, I enjoy exercising, reading, watching movies and listening to music. I'm also an avid sports fan, living in NYC for the past few years, I've taken a brunt of abuse for my allegiances, but I am die-hard supporter of all things Philadelphia sports. Go Eagles, Sixers, Flyers and Phillies!
My excitement to be a member of the UASGC community cannot be overstated. It is my goal that all students leave my classroom informed historically and engaged with issues that affect contemporary society.
Ms. Laura Lentin, English as a Second Language & Mandarin
Language has always been a passion of mine. I am a firm believer that language opens up doors to the world, and cannot wait to share my love of languages with my students.
I moved to China after graduating from the George Washington University with a degree in Chinese Language and Literature. I spent a few years working with ESL students in Shenzhen, one of the international shipping hubs of the country. I worked both as a 9th grade ESL teacher and as a college counselor preparing students to attend college abroad. After working as a college counselor I realized how much I missed and loved working in a classroom.
I am extraordinarily excited to be back in the classroom and a member of the UASGC team, not only an ESL teacher, but as a Mandarin teacher as well!
Mr. Kareem Johnson, Physical Education & Health
I was born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I am very proud to have come from a tightly knit community as my town and travels throughout life made me who I am today. It all started while I was in Physical Education class with Coach Dan Hardwood. Until that point, I was not sure what I wanted to do. When I met coach Hardwood, I noticed that he extended his platform way beyond class or the basketball court. He was a teacher, coach, father, preacher, motivator, and comedian. This is when I realized that I wanted to be a teacher.
I graduated from Fayetteville State University with a degree in Physical Education & Health and am currently pursuing a Master's Degree from Liberty University. I have coached teams in a variety of sports and also spending time mentoring and leading youth development groups.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, participating in outdoors activities, and playing sports. I am entering my third year at The Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce and I look forward an amazing year!
Mr. Mark Mason, Special Education
I was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Business Administration in 2000 (Go Fighting Gamecocks!). Before becoming an educator, I spent 10 years as the Director of Recreation, Aquatics and Youth Programming for a private club on an island just south of Charleston. Although it was a great career and beautiful place, I wasn't being fulfilled. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of our youth and society as a whole. By far my favorite part of the job was working with high school and college aged kids, so teaching seemed like a natural. I made the career change and haven't looked back.
My fiance and I moved to New York with our dog, Moe, a little over a year ago and I absolutely love it. I use my experience, diligence, and firm belief that all students can achieve to get positive results in the classroom. I am extremely proud and excited to be a part of a such a wonderful community here at UASGC.
Mr. Eric Dryden, ELA
I grew up in a small town in Northern Ohio. As a kid, I learned to love reading through the books of great Young Adult authors like the spooky R.L. Stine and the earnest Matt Christopher. I graduated from Ohio University with a B.A. in English in 2002. Since I’d had enough of peace and quiet, I moved to New York City to become part of the New York City Teaching Fellows where I earned my M. Ed. from Lehman College in Secondary English Education. I’ve taught 7th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Brooklyn and the Bronx as an English teacher. Among my accomplishments as an educator are being voted “Strictest Teacher” (twice!) and “Teacher Most Likely to Break Out into Song and Dance” by my students. My proudest moments as a teacher have often involved showing off the accomplishments and talents of my students via presentations of research papers on climate change, public trials for the murder of Desdemona, or my A.P. students defending their thesis to peers.
Mr. Kenneth Gee, Guidance
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” This has become the mantra of my adult life. Proud lifelong New Yorker, I grew up in Brentwood, Long Island. Professionally, my home has always been New York City. After earning my Bachelors of Art in Anthropology from Stony Brook University in 2003I earned my Master of Education in School Counseling from Long Island University in 2008. Difficulty in landing a job in a school after graduation led me to securing a position as a foster care caseworker, an unexpected job which still influences me to this day and shapes my current philosophy of work.
In the warm weather, you can find me racing or training for my passion of OCR (Obstacle Course Racing). In short, I am man of faith and purpose, hardcore Dallas Cowboys fan, accomplished foodie, avid fun seeker, nerd-jock hybrid, self-proclaimed “Unstoppable force of Awesome” - I am a real person looking to maximize life and inspire others to do the same.
As a school counselor, my job is to help students master the intangibles. No nonsense, tough love, raw truth and accountability are my theories of choice. It is my passion and pleasure to challenge and encourage growth in myself, co-workers, students and entire school community here at UASGC.
Ms. Meg O'Brien, Partnership and Development Manager
I grew up in Boston and then attended the American Music and Dramatic Academy in NYC and the London Academy of Performing Arts in London, studying musical theater and classical theater. I pursued theater in NYC for nearly 10 years and I am a member of the Actors Equity Union. I left NYC when I was granted a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music where I received a Bachelor's of Music studying performance, music therapy, and music business. In 2015, I graduated with a Masters in Youth Justice from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
I have always had a passion for youth work, advocacy, and non-profit work. As a teen, I was the Dorchester neighborhood Rep to Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston and worked in city hall in Boston, helping to create the Mayor’s Youthline. I have worked at organizations such as Partners In Health, Room To Grow, Berklee College of Music, The One Fund (organization that raised funds for the Boston marathon bombing), Latino STEM Alliance, and recently left a startup at a venture capital firm in Boston to move back to NYC.
In 2009, I co-founded an NGO (Non Government Organization) in Lusaka, Zambia called “Vision of Hope”, which is a transitional home for young girls living on the street. I have lived and traveled back and forth to Zambia since 2006 and continues to be the president of the US Board for this organization. http://visionofhopezambia.org. I love to travel (48 countries to date), going out to listen to live music, walking castle island, and spending quality time with my family back in Boston and friends here in NYC.
Ms. Claudia Mendez, College & Career Counselor
I grew up in sunny Southern California in a city called Riverside. I am the daughter of two immigrant parents who worked very hard to give me access to a better education. Their sacrifices made it possible for me to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz.
My love for college counseling was born my freshman year of college when my “Diversity and Education” class forced me to think about why I was one of the very few Latina students in my college classrooms. In thinking about all the people who supported my academic journey, it became clear that my purpose in life was to help others get to college and achieve their future goals.
As I go into my sixth year in the field of college counseling, I am delighted to be joining such a dynamic and dedicated team!