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.
Yadira Martinez, Associate Dean of Students — Ms. Martinez's parents were born in the Dominican Republic and Ms. Martinez was born and raised in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Martinez graduated with a BS degree in Human Services and a Master’s in Public Administration specializing in Public Policy and Inspection/Oversight. Before coming to MESA Charter High School, Ms. Martinez worked in the New York City Department of Education (DOE) as an Equal Opportunity Investigator investigating sexual harassment and discrimination cases. Prior to working in the DOE, Ms. Martinez worked for the New York Law Department where she investigated abuse, neglect, and excessive force cases that were committed by the New York Police Department and the Department of Corrections. While working for the DOE, Ms. Martinez realized that she wanted to interact more with children to help them get through high school, what she considers some of the toughest years they will endure as youth. Ms. Martinez plans to support MESA students with anything and everything they need to become successful. As someone who was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Ms. Martinez believes that she can relate to the children at MESA and plans to help them reach their highest potential. Ms. Martinez looks forward to making a difference in the lives of all students.
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.
Danilsa Lagombra, Social Worker — Ms. Lagombra was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn. She witnessed her mother working with older adults and realized that she wanted to help others as well, especially adolescents. Ms. Lagombra graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Psychology and Sociology then went on to get an MSW degree from Fordham University. She has been working with families and youth ever since in various social service agencies. Before working at MESA, Ms. Lagombra worked in a residential facility for youth in the juvenile justice system and in foster care. She believes that adolescents have voices that need to be heard and that they should be empowered to use their voices. Ms. Lagombra hopes to provide a space where students feel comfortable in discussing their feelings, goals and concerns while realizing their potential and strength. She loves anything related to food, arts and crafts, nature, music and more food.