MR. ROONEY VIZCAINO, PRINCIPAL
A product of the NYC School system, raised in the Bronx and Washington Heights. In his 15-year career Rooney has been a teacher, a science coordinator, a team leader, an Assistant principal and Principal. He has worked with thousands of students from various backgrounds and experiences. A nurturing and positive school culture with collaboration from staff and students are the essentials of a well functioning school.
Rooney currently serves on the Board of Directors for Urban Assembly.
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!
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. 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 this conviction 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. 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.