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RiSC Partner Schools

Abby Jordan

Liberation Diploma Plus High School (2022 -      )

2865 West 19th Street, Brooklyn NY 11224

As a Brighton Beach & Coney Island Native, I was first introduced to RiSC when the team invited me to be part of their advisory board, a collective of locals who love Coney Island and advocate for its restoration and resilience. The program has made strides in connecting young folks to their natural environments and has personally allowed me to connect my community advocacy to my day job. After living through the destruction of Hurricane Sandy and seeing the devastation it brought to my community, I made a personal commitment to joining volunteer opportunities that restore the environment and promote community resiliency. I am a first generation Salvadoran American with an academic and work background in community organizing and environmental justice. I am a volunteer and advisory board member with the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) where we swim year-round and encourage all to cold-water swim for its healing properties of cold therapy and nature immersion! I work at Liberation Diploma Plus High School as their Parent Coordinator where I manage admissions and promote parent & community engagement. This year we will be incorporating RiSC as an afterschool program and hope to connect more local Coney Island students to their coastal environment. We have partnered with RiSC in the past, joining their field trips and community activities, and have had positive feedback from our current students and graduates alike who feel empowered to do more for their community once they see the impact they can have on a grassroots level. 

Sal Puglisi

Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management (2022 -      )

411 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10038

I’ve led a life of community service, and am passionate about teaching and emergency preparedness. I joined the New York City Department of Education in 2007 as a Special Education Teacher. In addition to teaching, I’m a volunteer firefighter and the Emergency Medical Technician at my local fire department in upstate New York. In 2013 I took a position as the founding Career and Technical Education teacher at The Urban Assembly  School for Emergency Management in New York City. 

Prior to becoming a teacher, I had a ten-year career as an Emergency Medical Technician (“EMT”) in New York City. I’ve been honored by the “Women’s Bond Club of New York” and the “NASDAQ” for my efforts on 9/11 and the rescue and recovery effort that followed.

During the summer of 2021, I was a summer teacher intern for the Earth Institute at Columbia University, developing hands-on, learning experiences at the intersection of science, public policy, urban design and emergency management.  

I joined the RiSC program because its mission and vision aligns with that of UASEM. As the only Emergency Management high school in the country, working with the RiSC program allows students to experience another side of disasters and helps students understand their part in the environment and emergency preparedness. 

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Aaron But

John Dewey HS   (2022 -        )

50 Avenue X, Brooklyn, NY 11223

This is my 4th year teaching chemistry at John Dewey High School. I have had a passion for climate change issues ever since my friends and family were affected by hurricane Sandy. I graduated from Stony Brook University with a minor in environmental chemistry, which opened my eyes to all the issues with climate change and climate justice. I’ve always wanted to help but never knew how until now. Climate resilience education is more crucial than ever with the amount of misinformation being passed around.  I wanted to join the RiSC program to spread awareness to our future generations and help them to take a step forward in making NYC sustainable.  


Mary Lu

IS 228, David A. Boody JHS  (2017 -  2022)

228 Avenue S, Brooklyn, NY 11223

The concept of resiliency and increasing literacy about climate change brought me to the RiSC program. What motivates me to continue in this program is being part of a change that students are setting forth with their ideas about resiliency in our city. Their engagement in the program inspires me to be a more active citizen in resiliency changes.

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Ronite Fitoussi

IS 303, Herbert S. Eisenberg  (2020 -  )

501 West Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I was motivated to join the RiSC program to make a difference in our community and to spread, not just awareness, but knowledge about the issues that are affecting us now, and will affect us in the future. I also believe that action is the real difference, and who better to lead the action, than the people teaching about it.

It is important to teach students about climate change and resilience because students need to be made aware of the issues that are plaguing them and will ultimately affect their lives. Students must be made aware of the issues that surround them, how to handle them, and jump in to take care of them now. Having teachers to guide them and help them think critically about these issues, will help them be more responsible adults.

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Suzanne Hanafy

High School for Climate Justice (2021 -  )

320 East 96th Street, New York, NY 10128

I’m a special education teacher at the newly named High School for Climate Justice. Given our new school name, we spent a great deal of time exploring the numerous climate focused programs offered in NYC.  When I learned about the RiSC program, I felt it would be an incredible opportunity to show students the connection between equity and climate justice. I’m really excited for my students to be a part of this program, where they can not only learn about issues affecting their local communities, but also take on an active role in bringing about positive change. Resiliency education is so crucial in that it focuses on what we can actually do. I believe giving students that sense of meaning and value is the best hope we have for our future as we face climate change. 


Hannah O'Leary

Rachel Carson HS   (2017 -   )

521 West Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

While I did not live in NYC during Hurricane Sandy, I was fascinated by the experiences and impact that it had on the lives of my students. When I joined the staff at Rachel Carson High School, I found out the huge impact that the storm had on our school building and learned that we were still dealing with the consequences 5 years later. Facilitating the RiSC program in Coney Island has opened my eyes to the impact that climate change has on certain communities within big cities, the environmentally destructive choices that humans make when city planning, and the enthusiasm of those fighting for change.

Climate and resiliency education is important because it helps our students to understand that the fate of our world is in their hands and that they can actively work to make their communities a safer, greener, more resilient place to live.

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Rachelle Travis

PS/IS, Shirley Tanyhill School  (2020 - )

2950 West 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I entered the classroom with a Biology and Education degree, and quickly realized that my cookie cutter lab experiences at college were not going to cut it in an Urban NYC classroom. After an amazing Summer PD session where I learned about taking my students to our waterfronts to do fieldwork, I began searching for opportunities to bring this kind of work to my classroom. By my second year of teaching, I became heavily involved in Billion Oyster Project, Urban Advantage, and the NYC DOE Citizen Science projects, immediately seeing the positive benefits this hands-on fieldwork had on my students. They were finally doing real science, and I finally was teaching real science! I have since also presented sessions on Climate education to other teachers alongside colleagues from AMNH and Urban Advantage.

I was still looking for opportunities when I learned about RiSC from fellow science teachers, including Tim Hitchcock at my own school. The work being done by RiSC is literally in the backyard of my current school, IS 288, and so it is directly impacting my students. It's a program I'm proud to be part of, and I hope to be able to continue to involve students in both hands-on field work and climate change discussions that give my students a say in their own lives. 

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Tim Hitchcock

PS/IS, Shirley Tanyhill School  (2020 - )

2950 West 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I first learned about the RiSC program through other environmental education programs that I actively participate in.

I attended a conference presented by Andrew Zimmermann in Jamaica Bay in which he laid out a lot of the RiSC framework and was immediately impressed with the program overview, the organization, and overall plans for pushing climate resilience education. I had met Andrew years earlier working as a cohort for the Billion Oyster Project and know his level of dedication to systemic educational change. I live and work in communities that have been profoundly impacted by climate change and desperately require the need for resilience education if they are to recover and prosper. This includes all residents, including youth whose voices and ideas are often overlooked despite the fact that they will bear the brunt of any actions (or lack thereof) to establish coastal resilience plans and deal with future climate change issues. For the past two decades, I have been working with my students to address the social, environmental, and political issues facing their community. The RiSC program provides hope for establishing a strong framework for those types of opportunities to continue for future students and educators.

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April Howard

Wildwood HS   (2021 -   )

4300 Pacific Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

I am a Science teacher at Wildwood High School. I graduated from Millersville University in 2002 with a Bachelor's degree in Geological Oceanography. I received my Masters degree in Educational Leadership  from the American College of Education in 2018. I have been teaching Environmental Science at Wildwood High School for the past 16 years. Teaching sustainability is a personal passion of mine and I work to find innovative ways to instill its value in my students. I enjoy working on the RiSC project with my students because they all have experienced or watched damage from storms in some way. This gives them the opportunity to research the weather’s short and long term impacts on the community where they live.

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Allison Mulch

Project Director, New Jersey Audubon 

9 Hardscrabble Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924

Allison is the Project Director for School Sustainability working directly with New Jersey’s school administrators and teachers to recruit and train more than 5,000 educators and 330 public, private and charter schools through professional development workshops, professional conferences, and on-site modeling to for facilitating student-led action teams using the Eco-Schools USA framework to address sustainability through research, data collection, community connections, and problem-based learning experiences. She also inspires best practices in school sustainability by selecting state nominees for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program through a rigorous application and review process in a partnership with the NJ Department of Education. Allison also partnered with New Jersey School Boards Association's (NJSBA) integrative science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (iSTEAM) design competition and was as a co-contributor for the Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Hazards in a partnership with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

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Aaron Segin

Wildwood HS   (2021 -   )

4300 Pacific Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

I earned my Bachelors of English from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 2011 and then my and Bachelors in Education from the same institution in 2012. I started teaching at Wildwood High School in 2012. I received my Master’s in Special Education in 2020 from Stockton University. I am currently an English, media, and special education teacher at Wildwood High School. I am also highly involved with our 21st Century Learning After School Program. I love working on the RISC flood vulnerability study because this provides our students an opportunity to take a leadership role in researching and helping the community. There are so many facets of this project that target different real-world skills necessary to be successful in any career in life. This is also quite personal to our community, so it instills a sense of pride and promotes volunteerism.

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