Anthony Velez, Dean of Students — Mr.Velez was born in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of 17 he graduated from Dorchester High School in Massachusetts and enlisted in the Marine Corps just three weeks later. In the following 8 years, he reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and became one of the youngest squad leaders to lead a team into Iraq during Operation Endure Freedom in 2004. After three combat tours, he was selected to be an instructor at the Corporals Leadership School in Quantico, VA. This is where his love for teaching and coaching young men and women flourished. At the end of his military career, he moved back to New York and set his sights on the education field. He earned his Associates degree in Liberal Arts and Science from Queensborough Community College and is currently attending Queens College for a degree in Psychology. Mr. Velez secretly writes poetry, trains in Mixed Martial Arts, loves Motown music, and is fascinated with astronomy.
Derek Isaac, Lead Senior Associate Dean — Born and raised in Washington Heights, Derek Jackson Isaac knew early on that his place in life was to help people. While attending Lehman College he pursued a career in law enforcement but felt there had to be a different way of helping people which lead to short terms as a Youth Coordinator and a Paraprofessional. Currently a School Aide for MESA Charter High School, he hopes to do his part to keep things running smoothly and a little bit easier.
Khary Huggins, Associate Dean of Students — Mr. Huggins has lived in this Bushwick neighborhood since he was two. His mother has been a special education teacher for over 25 years and this inspired him to get into the education field. He graduated from St. Johns University in Queens, NY with a degree in Psychology and from Sacred Heart University with a Master's in Applied Psychology. Before coming to MESA Charter High School, Mr. Huggins worked at Capital Prep Harlem and at the Achievement First Network. He has held several roles throughout his career, ranging from a school counselor to science teacher and behavioral specialist. He enjoys working with kids from inner city communities because he can relate to a lot of the challenges they face daily. His goal is for all students to get equal opportunity to succeed in school and in life. He is ecstatic to get a chance to work in the community he grew up in. He looks forward to doing great things here at MESA.
Shannon Sarthou, Counseling Department Leader and Senior Clinical Social Worker — Ms. Sarthou grew up in Hawaii, Japan, and Virginia as a military kid. She earned her degrees in Social Work and she is a SIFI certified LCSW. Her passion in life is to work alongside young people and to support them in recognizing their endless potential, resilience, belonging, and growth. She has worked in youth drop-in centers, homeless shelters, residential programs, and an alternative school. She loves anything related to chips, mother nature, jewelry, and... more chips.
Lourdes Carrasco, Guidance Counselor — Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Inwood, Lourdes is committed to youth empowerment, community organizing, and social justice. Before pursing a career in education, Lourdes worked at several youth development and social justice organizations, including Chess-in-the-Schools and the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Like Marilyn Monroe, her moon sign is in Aquarius and the key to her heart is a James Baldwin-themed anything.
Dwayne James, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Social Worker — Mr. James was born and raised in Boston, MA. His parents are originally from the sunny island of Jamaica making Mr. James a first generation Caribbean – American. Mr. James grew up with two older siblings (brother and sister) and one younger brother. After graduating from Boston Arts Academy High School Mr. James set out to live his dream of moving to New York City. Mr. James obtained both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Social Work from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. Aside from aiding with the social well being of our next generation, Mr. James enjoys performing arts (Hip Hop, Jazz, and Classical Ballet) as well as watching Football and Basketball. Mr. James passion for working with youth derives from his experiences going to an inner city high school, and his awareness of how staff can impact the development of student’s success.
Idanis Pagan, Social Worker — Ms. Pagan was born and raised in New York City. Growing up in NYC shaped her life's mission to help people help themselves. After working in post secondary education, Idanis went on to pursue her Master's degree in Social Work. Before joining Mesa, she worked with Adolescent High School students at a transfer Charter High School, along with previously working with recently arrived unaccompanied immigrant youth.