UC Berkeley, BA in Philosophy & Education
Masters in Teaching and Administration
Kiri Soares co-founded the Urban Assembly of Math and Science for Young Women in 2006 with the goal of targeting the gender disparity of women in STEM fields, through nurturing their interest and developing their capabilities in math and science. Kiri earned her BA in Philosophy & Education from UC Berkeley and completed two masters degrees (one in teaching from San Francisco State University and one in administration from Mercy College). She has worked as a teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal in the NYCDOE since 1997.
Augsburg University, Bachelor's Degree
Manhattanville College, Master's Degree in Education
City College of NY, Master's Degree in School Leadership
"There is fire in the flint and steel, but it is friction that causes it to flash, flame and burn, and give light where all else may be darkness. There is music in the violin, but the touch of the master is needed to fill the air and the soul with the concord of sweet sounds. There is power in the human mind, but education is needed for its development."   - Blessings of Liberty and Education,  Frederick Douglass
A long-time Urban Assembly teacher and leader, Annie is deeply familiar with our family of schools and the unique mission we all share in preparing students to graduate from both high school and college. Now an Assistant Principal, Annie leads our Artisan Teaching work. With Kiri, Annie works to provide teachers and staff the pedagogical support and feedback needed to grow pedagogical practice and increase the quality of instruction.
Room 301 - ext. 30111: [email protected]
Jen Cusa is a licensed Master Social Worker and joined UAI in 2007. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BA in Social Thought and Political Economy. She went on to receive her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College. Jen's work emphasizes the implementation of social emotional learning (SEL) practices and creating school-wide policies that promote positive learning environments. Jen supervises our team of counselors and social workers and provides structured SEL support to ensure student success. Building on this SEL work, Jen also supervises our parent coordinator to facilitate strong family-school relationships.

Room 145 - ext. 14553; aishah@uainstitute.org

Aisha first joined UAI as a paraprofessional and last year became our parent coordinator.  Throughout all of her roles at UAI, Aisha has always stepped up to do whatever it takes to make sure our students and families are supported and get what they need to thrive!

  RM B45, ext. 84511 - [email protected]

Alison began teaching in NYC public schools over 13 years ago.  Five years into teaching, Alison joined UAI as a middle school math and science teacher.  Over the years, Alison has served a mentor and coach for the NYCDOE teaching fellows program, and she now brings that expertise to UAI as a peer instructional coach.  Her work with her fellow teachers has elevated practice in the classrooms and improved learning experiences for students beyond her own classroom.  Alison brings a wealth of resources and experiences in math education to our school, our students, and their families..

[email protected]

Brenda joined UAI in 2017.  She provides strong academic and social-emotional support throughout the day for our middle school students who need extra help in achieving academic success.  This year, Brenda continues her work with the middles school students.  

Christina works with our Algebra 1 and Algebra II students supporting their learning in our Algebra ICT classes.  As one of our two special education coordinators Christina writes student IEPs, coordinate s Annual Review team, and liaises with members of our school based support team.  Christina is the proud mommy of a beautiful daughter.

Rm 201, ext. 20111 - [email protected]

My given name is Davira Jiménez. I prefer to be called Dai, however. Ya know, like toDAY. I am a proud Brooklynite, born to parents of Afro-Caribbean descent. And, I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work within a Brooklyn community.I am excited to be joining UAI as the School Business Manager. Before UAI, I worked in other schools as an Operations professional and Culture advocate. As a result of my time in schools I have become more in touch with the importance of prioritizing the safety and care of the communities I work with. I believe wholeheartedly in the learning, the understanding and the restoring of faith in our communities. Not just the ones I come from directly. Needless to say, I look forward to sharing the learning with all of you. Thank you for having me. Now, let's make it a great yea

Room 145, ext. 14552 - [email protected] 

Damaris joins UAI this school year as our school secretary.  With many years of experience, Damaris comes to UAI to a deep knowledge of DOE systems and will be very able to support teachers and staff in getting whatever they need to excel in their own roles.

Room 145 - ext. 14542; [email protected]

Danielle Insel joined UAI in 2017 to grow our College Counseling office’s capacity to support students and families in this very important area of post-secondary preparation. After several years of providing college counseling to students in the Bronx, Danielle looks forward to expanding our college office support.  Danielle leads our work with College Access for All, a DOE initiative that is aimed at enhancing and expanding college readiness throughout the school. 
RM 405, ext 40511 - [email protected]
Danielle began as a student teacher at UAI in 2012 and is going into her 6th year teaching at UAI.  Danielle quickly adapted UAI’s learning formats to maximize student engagement and access into complex math concepts.  She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Math Education from SUNY Cortland and a Master’s of Science in Special Education from CUNY Hunter.  As a peer instructional coach, Danielle works with her colleagues to develop practice and pedagogy so all students at UAI have stronger and more engaging classroom learning experiences. Focusing energy on problem-solving and bringing the logical thinking and reasoning we learn through studying math to overcome adversities our girls face being young minority women in today’s society.
Elena is a native Italian with a dual certification in teaching Italian and Spanish. She earned an interpreting and translating degree in Italy (Spanish and English) as well an MA in Italian and Spanish from Hunter College. She joined the UAI team in 2007. Elena brings creativity, cultural elements, and technology into the classroom to address the many learning styles as well as different needs and interests of her students.

Room B53,  ext. B5311 - ; [email protected]     

Jake is returning to UAI this year.  Having taught for social studies for four years in Houston Texas, Jake decided to move to New York.  Jake has his BA from Grand Valley State University in Allendale Michigan with a major in History and a minor in English.  Jake joins Kelly, Annie, and Kiri in their Artisan Teaching work in US History and is excited to begin working with our staff and preparing our young women for future success in college and beyond!

Room 315 & 205C - ext. 31511/20511 - [email protected]   

I attended Cortland University where I received my Bachelor's Degree in Childhood Education. I later earned my Master's Degree for Students with Disabilities. I became a middle school teacher for 5 years where I taught Science and Mathematics. I am now eager and excited to start my 2nd year with the UAI team!

Room 302 - ext. 30211 [email protected]

Room 304 - ext. 30431; [email protected]

Jennifer Jackson Robbins has been supporting our young women as their guidance counselor since 2009.  In addition to providing our students with IEPs with mandated counseling support, Jennifer also works with our incoming students to provide direct SEL instruction to help our students adjust and transition with strong, positive, pro-social skills.  Jennifer also coordinates transcript updates and changes for the entire school.

RM 307, ext. 30711 -  [email protected]

A New York native, Joey O’Connor attended the State University of New York: College at Geneseo, where he completed majors in English Literature and Adolescence Education as well as a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies.  Currently, Joey is pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching at Columbia University to further hone his passion for designing learning experiences that are joyous, rigorous, data-driven, culturally relevant, and empowering. As a fierce advocate for intersectional feminism and social justice, Joey is excited to be part of  the UAI team! Joey invites students to not only collaborate in their close analysis of the craft of diverse authors, but to write their own pointed stories. He is thrilled to work with our young women and support them in cultivating the skills necessary to open doors of opportunity to college and beyond!

RM 403, ext 40311 - j[email protected]

This is Judy’s 5th year of teaching and 5th year at UAI.  Judy joined us from the Teaching Fellows Program. She completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at NYU Poly, and as such, has a personal connection to our partner, and our mission to empower young women through STEM.  Judy is excited to join UAI and to become part of our team as we continue to prepare our young women for college success and future careers in STEM field.

[email protected]

Juelle joined UAI nearly 8 years ago as a classroom paraprofessional. Juelle provides calm and persistent support for our most struggling students.  With her individualized support they access learning in the classroom.  With her help, our students have pathways to academic success. This year Juelle will be working with our high school students.

RM 507, ext. 50711 - [email protected]

I am originally from Round Lake, NY and attended SUNY Geneseo to study history and adolescent education. I then earned my MA in Teaching at Clarkson University. This year, I will be teaching  African History and  Civics and Economics. In high school, I disliked my  history classes. Once I started college, however, and took history courses grounded in discussions that challenged me and broadened my perspective on global events, I knew I wanted to bring these skills and experiences to students in high school. Through the analysis of primary sources and daily class discussions, I hope students will develop into inquisitive, informed, and engaged citizens that advocate for themselves and their communities.

RM 402, ext. 40211; [email protected]

Laura is a 19 year veteran teacher with the NYCDOE.  She has expertise in designing and executing curriculum, ensuring compliance with state mandates, programming student schedules, building relationships with parents and students, developing and documenting school-wide planning for English Language Learners.  Laura earned her BA from St. John’s University and her MA in teaching rom New York University.  This is Laura’s 2nd year with UAI and she is excited to bring her passion for art appreciation to her middle school students.  

Room 415, ext 41511 - [email protected]

Liza was born in the snow-covered land of Buffalo, NY, and raised in sunny Auburn, AL, After attending The College of Wooster and graduating with a B.A. in Geology and Chemistry, she attended the American Museum of Natural History's Richard Guilder Graduate School and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Earth Science education.  Liza joins UAI this year to bring Chemistry back to the science program.  Liza is particularly invested in data literacy as a way of encouraging students to be engaged in both local and global issues. She anticipates that exposing students to exciting science will encourage more, particularly young ladies such as those she teachers, to pursue science as a calling.

Room 304 - ext. 30421; [email protected]


Marni first joined UAI as a part-time social worker in 2011.  Marni is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  She graduated from the UMass - Amherst with a BA in Psychology and received her MA in Social Work from NYU. Marni began her career at Acorn Community High School in Brooklyn.  Marni has a passion for helping her students navigate through adolescence.  This year, we welcome Marni as a full-time member of our staff!

Room 311, ext 31111 - [email protected]

Martine joined UAI almost 10 years ago as a Special Education teacher.  Martine later left the classroom to support students in the role of dean and later as a college counselor.  After several years of childcare leave, Martine returns to her classroom role, joining the US History classes.

RM B57, , ext. 85711 -  [email protected]).

Matthew began teaching in the Bronx in 2014.  Matthew has a passion for helping our youngest learners develop their excitement about math.  He is dedicated to improving his practice, implementing feedback and advice that he actively seeks out from peers. Matthew also works in our after school program with Girls Inc training our middle school students how to become young engineers via Lego Robotics. 

Rm 201, ext. 20131 -  [email protected]

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Nadine studied Theatre at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Special Education at New York University. She is joining the UAI staff this year as a Special Education provider and Computer Science teacher.  She began teaching in 1990 and has taught Computer Technology for many of those years. Nadine is looking forward to sharing her love of learning with the young women of UAI.   Her great loves are her dogs Lulu Belle & Griffin. She is an avid knitter.

Room 145 - ext. 14552; [email protected]

Paula joins UAI this year as a reading intervention teacher and general substitute teacher and main office support.  Pauline has been teaching for many years and first came to UAI as a substitute teacher.  We are thrilled to bring her on full time to join our staff for the 2019-20 school year.

RM 307, ext. 30711 - [email protected]

My name is Rebecca Candela and I am originally from Michigan. All of my life I have enjoyed working with children and have work with kids since I was 16 years old.  When trying to figure out my career I knew I wanted to help others and work with kids, so naturally I gravitated towards teaching

I moved to NYC after receiving my Bachelors of Science in Education from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.  I earned my Masters in Literacy Acquisition at City College of New York during my first few years of teaching. I will be starting my 14th year teaching in NYC and my 7th year at UAI.  I will be teaching 9th grade English and AP Language and Composition this year. I love being an English teacher because I love reading. I understand the importance of getting students to love reading, too.  Whenever a student says to me, “I don’t like reading,” my response is, “you just haven’t found the right book.” I especially love working at UAI because it gives me the opportunity to empower young women and guide them in realizing their true potential.  I feel honored that I am able to work with such brilliant young ladies that will shape the future of our country. I believe education is paramount to addressing the many social justice issues in our country. Therefore, my pedagogy is centered on addressing social injustice and this passion is reflected in the curricula I create. 

This year I am excited about my new role as the AP for All Peer Collaborative Teacher Leader.  I’m eager to guide the staff and students at UAI as we work towards creating a strong AP program to ensure that all of our students are college ready.  

RM B53 & B43, ext. 84311 - [email protected]

Born and raised in the South Bronx, I relocated to Long Island as a teenager.  I received my BA from Stony Brook University and my MA in Education from Hunter College. In NYC, I saw first hand how different the “quality” of education was for those who grew up in the same conditions I had versus others children living in the same city. Not solely because of  the lack tangible resources but more so the lack excitement, desire and simple care the teachers bring into the classroom. Being at UAI has allowed me an opportunity to be the teacher I wish I had as a child . It has given me a chance to expose my girls to literature that forces them to widen horizons, change perspectives, as well explore their own identity with the goal of them being well equipped to carve their place in this world.

Room 303 - ext. 30311 [email protected]

Sarah joins UAI in 2017. She is an accomplished  humanities teacher.  Sarah has her BA in English from the University of Delaware and her MA in Secondary Education for SUNY Stonybrook.

RM B49, ext. 84925 - [email protected]

Teaching middle school science is my passion. Eighteen years ago, I joined Teach for America and began working as a sixth-grade science and math teacher. Sarah has always been committed to ensuring that every student receives an excellent science education. Sarah is a lead teacher with Urban Advantage which provides high-quality professional development support and a variety of resources for science to schools just like ours. Sarah understands that students are faced with many challenges in and out of the classroom. She continually strives to offer her students a variety of opportunities and experiences designed to help them not only address their immediate problems but to grow and thrive as people.

RM 205C, ext. 31511 [email protected]

Thomas Wilson began his first year at UAI in the fall of 2015. In 2008 Thomas began his BA in Earth science and secondary education at Dowling College in Long Island, New York. In 2010 Thomas moved to New Zealand where he studied volcanology and glaciology at Auckland University of Technology- a partner university of Dowling College. Shortly before Thomas graduated from Dowling in 2012, he studied geosciences abroad in Iceland and Italy during his last semester. In 2013 Thomas began his teaching career in the Peace Corps. Throughout his two year service in rural Malawi, Thomas taught geography, Earth science and life skills at Community Day Secondary School.