Faculty and Staff » Social Studies

Social Studies

Shaquise Elie, Social Studies Department Leader and Special Education Teacher — Shaquise Elie was born and raised in Boston, MA. He attended the University of Massachusetts Boston where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, and Fordham University where he received his Master of Science in Teaching. Mr. Elie's passions in teaching are decentering whiteness in Social Studies curriculums and putting joy back into classrooms. Outside of work, he enjoys working out, going to top rated beaches around the world and listening to 90's R&B, Hiphop, and Dancehall Reggae. If you visit his classroom or office, ask him about this little sisters Kimora and Shakaira--they're his world!


Molly Morgan, 10th Grade Team Leader and Social Studies Teacher — Ms. Morgan grew up in Albany, NY and is a proud “upstate” New Yorker. She relocated to Brooklyn in 2013, and has since fallen in love with her adopted hometown. Ms. Morgan enjoys exploring NYC’s diverse neighborhoods, cultural institutions, and museums. Ms. Morgan studied History and Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was also a coxswain on the women’s rowing team. Afterward, she attended Hunter College, earning a master’s degree in Adolescent Social Studies Education. A self-described political junkie, Ms. Morgan probably spends a little too much of her free time listening to public radio and reading the opinion section of the New York Times.


Travis Ghirdharie, Social Studies Teacher  — Mr. Ghirdharie (Gear-dah-ree) was born in Queens, NY, and grew up in Schenectady, NY, but he’s excited to finally be back in New York City! Mr. Ghirdharie graduated from Cornell University where he studied Government and Anthropology and is now a 2017 Teach for America Corps Member working toward his Master's in the Art of Teaching. During his time at Cornell, Mr. Ghirdharie advocated for and worked with first-generation college students like himself. Mr. Ghirdharie has spent time teaching middle school Mathematics and high school ELA, but loves teaching History because that's where he can make the best dad jokes possible. During his free time, Mr. Ghirdharie loves to draw, and learn more about politics, education, and social justice.


Axel Hernandez, Social Studies Teacher Mr. Hernandez was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. He received a Bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin while also completing Army ROTC training. Upon graduation, Mr. Hernandez commissioned as an Armor Officer and served as a recruiter, reconnaissance platoon leader, and battle captain in the U.S. Army. After 4 years of service, Mr. Hernandez attended Stanford University where he received a Masters degree in Education. He taught ELL social studies at Oakland International High School in Oakland, CA before moving to Brooklyn. Outside of teaching, Mr. Hernandez enjoys working out, reading, and visiting New York's many museums.


Chris Parrucci, Social Studies Teacher  Mr. Parrucci is a New York native, having been born and raised on Long Island. He has a Bachelors of Science degree in 7-12 Social Studies education from New York University and a Juris Doctorate from Maurice A. Deane School of Law from Hofstra University. He started his career in Bushwick, teaching United States History and Government and is so excited to return to the neighborhood. In addition to teaching Mr. Parrucci has spent time in the legal and nonprofit field. Throughout his professional career he has always focused on social justice and empowering communities to advocate for their beliefs. He spends his down time with his wife and cat Anacapri. They all love watching Netflix and Mr. Parrucci loves going to the movies, listening to podcasts and doing obstacle course races.


Amy Polanco, Social Studies Teacher  Ms. Polanco was born in Brooklyn, NY, but was raised in Lawrence, MA. She attended UMass Dartmouth and earned a BA in Sociology and a minor in African American studies. Currently working on completing her Master of Education at UMass Boston. In her free time she enjoys sharing spoilers to her friends and family. Let just say they do not appreciate it. She is a dog mom to 4 adorable pups, who are Jasper, Kaz, Chaos and Cream. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, trying new foods and exploring the city. Her goal is to travel through all of Central and South America by 2025.


Julianna Rubbins-Breen, Social Studies Teacher  — Ms. Rubbins is a Vermont native but since leaving home has lived in Argentina, Canada and most recently New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her bachelors degree in Urban Geography and Communication Studies from McGill University and a Masters in Education from the University of Vermont. Ms. Rubbins recently moved to New York City from New Orleans where she taught US History and IB History of the Americas. In her free time she loves spending time with her three sisters, two of whom are also teachers! She is excited to explore her new home and is trying to visit every museum in the city!


Debbie Veras, Social Studies Teacher  — Miss Veras was born and raised on the other side of the Myrtle-Wyckoff stop in Ridgewood, Queens. As a child, her dream job was to be a teacher, and now she gets to do it! After studying Social Studies Adolescent Education at Hunter College, she found a home here at MESA. When she's in MESA you'll probably find her blasting some sort of music. Outside of MESA, you can find her planning her next trip, dancing, shopping, eating all kinds of food or playing with her puppy, Leo.