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's 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.
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 to serve others. This decision led to work as a youth coordinator and a paraprofessional. Mr. Isaac has had multiple roles at MESA Charter High School and continues to do his part to support students and keep things running smoothly.
Associate Dean of Students
Mr. Huggins has lived in the Bushwick neighborhood since he was two. His mother has been a special education teacher for over 25 years and inspired him to enter 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 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 opportunities to succeed in school and in life. He is ecstatic to get a chance to work in the community he grew up in.
Associate Dean of Students
Ms. Martinez was born and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Martinez graduated with a B.S. 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 for the New York City 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. Ms. Martinez then worked in the New York City Department of Education (DOE) as an Equal Opportunity Investigator investigating sexual harassment and discrimination cases. While working for the DOE, Ms. Martinez realized that she wanted to interact more with children to guide them during their most important years. Ms. Martinez has found that working at MESA has been such an amazing experience and she enjoys building relationships with her students. Ms. Martinez believes that the best part of working at MESA is being called “Mom” by many of the students.
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.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised Uptown, Ms. Carrasco is committed to youth development, community organizing, and healing justice. In addition to being a counselor, she is a full-spectrum doula and a soon-to-be yoga teacher! Lourdes's practice is rooted in curiosity, love, light, and shadow. She believes that a liberated space is one that is free of violence — whether it be speech, behavior, or thoughts against ourselves and others. It is love.
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 bachelor's and master's 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 positively impact the development of students
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.
Manager of Student Supports
Ms. Goldbaum grew up in a small town in North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In college, she studied biology and creative writing and remains passionate about the intersection of art and science. While pursuing her degree, Ms. Goldbaum obtained her teaching credentials through the UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC-BEST) Program. At MESA, she has taught STEM 2: Anatomy and Physiology, STEM 3: Medical Interventions,
Geoscience, Psychology, and AP Biology. This year, she will be working exclusively with SwIEPs and ELLs as MESA's Manager of Student Supports.