Leadership & Staff

Emily Marie Paige

F.K.A. Emily Jarrell


Emily Marie Paige (Jarrell) is the proud principal of The Urban Assembly Unison School.  Emily is a proud alumni of Brooklyn Public Schools and humbled by leading one as a principal.  

After graduating from John Dewey High School, Emily attended New York University for her undergraduate work in Education.  

Emily went straight into working as a teacher where she taught for 11 years at the Jacob Riis School, a culturally diverse PK-8 Title 1 school near Chinatown in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where she taught 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th grades in both general education and inclusive special education settings.

At the end of her second year of teaching, Emily was awarded a scholarship to attend Fordham University in a highly selective program for inner city teachers of students struggling to read.  Emily completed her  graduate degree in Curriculum Development and Literacy at Fordham while teaching.  

Clearly, Emily enjoys schooling because at the end of her eighth year teaching, she went back to school for a post graduate degree at City College in Educational Leadership.  After completing her post graduate degree at City College, she spent two years prior to becoming the principal of UAU as a coach of teachers, principals and assistant principals in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. 

Emily has led workshops and seminars for teachers in District 2 in New York City, Harrisburg, PA, and San Diego, CA, on the implementation of student-centered, assessment-driven literacy curricula in both reading and writing. She co-authored a course for new teachers in District 2, New York City, entitled Foundations of Literacy – an in-service course on the foundations of literacy development in children and the use of holistic approaches to teaching reading and writing.  Emily has also presented at annual meetings of the National Council of Teachers of English on three separate occasions. 

Emily looks forward to her continued years as the principal of UAU!

Amy Piller

Assistant Principal

Before becoming our Assistant Principal, Amy Piller helped found the Urban Assembly Unison School as its Curriculum Director, special educator, film teacher, and myriad hat wearer of many forms. Prior to this she had taught middle school English and social studies in New York City since 2007. In 2009 she began practicing the Learning Cultures curriculum at the Jacob Riis School, a PK-8 public school in lower Manhattan. She holds a BA in literary arts from Brown University and an MA in teaching English that she earned as a New York City Teaching Fellow at Brooklyn College. Through professional development around Learning Cultures, she has honed her specialty in middle school literacy, and has presented at national conferences about the curriculum, as well as taught as an adjunct professor in New York University’s Department of Teaching and Learning. She completed her degree in Leadership in the Arts at Bank Street College.

Arlette Williams

Parent Coordinator 


Ms. Williams has lived in the Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant community for over 15 years. Prior to becoming Parent Coordinator, Arlette Williams was a member of the PTA Executive Board and is a proud parent of a Unison alumnus. She placed her child at Unison because she was impressed with the curriculum and knew her child would benefit from this. Unison's goal is to increase student achievement and this can be possible with strong parent involvement, community support and trust. By having a student enrolled at Unison you’re automatically members of the PTA; making a donation, becoming involved by volunteering, and attending PTA meetings is the best way for you to meet other parents, administrators and teachers. Parent involvement boosts student’s grades and moral.

"I am your support and resource here at Unison. I look forward to seeing you all at our workshops and events that we have throughout the year."

Eric Berg

Social Worker


Eric Berg was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to working at the Urban Assembly Unison School, Mr. Eric was a special education teacher at a high school in Brooklyn, where he taught for 8 years. Committed to continue working with inner city youth, Eric went on to pursue a Masters in Social Work from New York University, and completed his training by providing psychotherapy services to youth and emerging adults in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Mr. Eric joined the Unison team in 2013 as the School Social Worker, and has since established himself as a support and resource for both students and their families. Mr. Eric integrates his passion for photography in his work at Unison, and teaches a photography apprenticeship where students are given opportunities to explore their communities and identities through a photographic lens.

Johanna Josaphat

Social Studies 


Johanna Josaphat is a Founding Teacher at the Unison School and has taught Middle School in New York City for the NYC DOE since 2002. Prior to becoming a Middle School educator, Ms. Josaphat has served as an Instructor of Developmental Reading for the NOAH Program at Hofstra University. She holds a BA in Psychology, M.S. Ed in Foundations of Education and an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education from Hofstra University.  Throughout her career, Ms.Josaphat has served in many capacities in the school community to develop her skills as a Teacher Leader. Some of these areas have included data analysis, staff development, NYC & NYS Assessment Initiatives, as well as collaboration with community resources. Through a constant drive for student success and achievement, Johanna Josaphat has strived to develop her professional practice to improve the quality of educational opportunities for her students. 

Rosie Orengo

Social Studies


Rosario Orengo has been a teacher for the NYC DOE since 2004 where she began her teaching career as a middle school history teacher at PS. 126/MAT, a culturally diverse, Title I school located on the Lower East Side where she taught for 8 years. Rosario has spent the last three years teaching at the Urban Assembly High School for Green Careers on the upper west side and is excited to be back teaching Middle School. Ms. Orengo holds a BA in Government, an M.S. Ed in Adolescence Education and an M.S. Ed in School Building Leadership.

Gabriel Perkins



Gabriel Perkins grew up in rural New Hampshire. After high school he spent some time traveling in Central America and then completed his undergraduate degrees at the University of New Hampshire (B.A. in English and B.S. in Environmental Science). Gabriel also lived briefly in Milan, Italy studying and then teaching ESL. After Milan, he moved to Istanbul, Turkey to teach Pre K-5 Physical Education. While in Istanbul he founded his school's after school sports program as well as traveled throughout Turkey and parts of Eastern Europe. Upon returning to the US, and moving to Brooklyn, Gabriel completed his M.A. in Earth Science Education at Relay Graduate School of Education in Manhattan. Gabriel has also taught English Literature and Composition, Math, and Outdoor Education.

Sabina McNamara


Sabina McNamara teaches Writing at Unison. She was born and raised in Mastic Beach, Long Island. Sabina moved to NYC when she attended Pace University where she received an undergraduate degree in teaching and a graduate degree in Literacy. Sabina has taught in the DOE for 12 years. She has worked with students and teachers at the elementary, middle and college level. She is currently pursuing a second master's degree in school leadership.
At Unison, Sabina is the ELA team leader, co-chair of the Student Action Squad, active member of the student engagement committee, and a founding member of the Girl's Only Club.
Sabina is also a mother of two children. She loves to read, write and ask questions.

Mia Shapiro



Mia Shapiro teaches 6th grade Writing at Unison, as well as Math SETSS for students in all grades. She was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, where she attended the oldest public high school in the country. Mia moved to NYC to attend Barnard College, where she majored in English and Education and received her New York State Teaching Certification in English Language Arts. Before beginning her teaching career at Unison, Mia student taught high school english at the James Baldwin School, a transfer high school for students seeking an alternative learning environment that focused on hands on "expeditions" of learning. This past summer, Mia pursued a second certification in Special Education. In her spare time, Mia loves to cook, try new foods, and travel.

Ryan Mack



  • Name: Mr. Mack
  • Experience teaching Reading and Writing in New York City Public Schools: 10 years
  • Enjoyment teaching Reading and Writing in New York City Public Schools: 10 years
  • Favorite book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 
  • Favorite books for kids: A Tale Dark and Grimm series by Adam Gidwitz and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Sign above door: "Let no man ignorant of geometry enter here"

Niekia Russell

Special Education, ELA


Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York Niekia Russell attended elementary and middle school here, but attended high school in Chester County Pennsylvania. After moving back to Brooklyn to attend college, Ms. Russell earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hunter College. While out of school, she worked in the after school program at the Salk School of Science as an After-School Counselor and Assistant Debate Coach. It was here were she discovered her love for working with children and applied to become a NYC Teaching Fellow. Once accepted into the fellowship, Ms. Russell had the added pleasure of completing her student teaching at her former middle school, M.S. 88. Ms. Russell is currently working on a Masters of Education at St. John’s University and believes all students have the ability to learn, given the right resources. She is very excited to be joining the Unison team!

Sarah Vasilik



Sarah Vasilik grew up in New Jersey and since she was a young child, always dreamed of living and working in the big city! She studied at Boston University where she received her BS in Broadcast Journalism in 2003. Her passion as a student herself motivated her to pursue a career in Education after her undergraduate work. She taught early childhood for a couple of years, before beginning a full time Master’s Program at New York University. She received her MA in Childhood Education from NYU in 2007 and began her career as a NYC Public School Teacher. Starting as a 3rd and 5th grade teacher at Public School 7 in East Harlem, New York, Sarah realized her strength and love for urban mathematics education. In 2011 she transitioned to teaching 7th and 8th grade math at Middle School 126 in the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Most recently, Sarah worked at PS/IS 95 The Gravesend School, in Brooklyn, NY serving as an 8th grade math teacher, 7th grade AIS support teacher, Advisory Captain, as well as piloted the first Algebra Common Core Regents program in 2014. 

In her free time, Sarah enjoys running, biking, road racing with New York Road Runners, (her favorite distance is the half marathon or 13.1 miles), traveling, cooking, spending time near water, and laughing with her family and friends! 

Sarah is extremely excited to join the staff at UAU with a goal to help her students love and appreciate mathematics, which is all around us every day!

Ellen Weeks

Special Education, Math

Ellen was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut where she attended Elementary, Middle and High School. Ellen earned her BA in Psychology from Trinity College in 2003 and moved to New York City after graduation. Ellen was a competitive swimmer throughout her childhood and worked as Head Swim Coach of the 92nd Street Y Swim Team prior to her career in education.

Ellen began her career as a teacher through the New York City Teaching fellows. She completed her MS for teachers at Pace University in 2012. Ellen has served as a middle school teacher for five years with extensive experience in special education, mathematics and literacy instruction. She taught at MS 582 in Brooklyn before joining the amazing Unison team for the 2013-14 school year as a special education math teacher. After a short hiatus in Portland, Oregon, where she also served as a middle school special education teacher, Ellen is thrilled to be back in New York and returning to Unison as a math teacher! She has always loved teaching math and is looking forward to delving into the common core mathematical standards and practices with the 6th and 7th graders at Unison.

When she’s not teaching Ellen enjoys reading, going to movies, cooking, walking around New York, and spending time with her family and friends.

Ron Major

Special Education, Math

Mr. Major was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his BA in Political Science at The City College of New York and has a Masters of Public Administration in Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Baruch College. This summer Mr. Major will be finishing up his Masters of Education at Long Island University. Mr. Major enjoys working with kids academically and through athletic sports. In his spare time he likes to read, coach basketball and football, go to the movies, spend time with his family and have debates about past and present professional athletes.

Ebony Ford



Ms. E. Ford is originally from San Antonio, TX. She holds two New York State teaching certifications; the first in English as a Second Language (ESL) for grades K-12, and another in Social Studies for grades 7-12. Ms. Ford has a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from New York University (NYU) and a Bachelor of Science Education in Adolescent Education, with a concentration in Social Studies, from St. John’s University . 

Prior to completing her academic coursework, Ms. Ford had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for the U.S. Department of Education and as an assistant teacher with a college preparatory program. In addition to teaching ESL at Unison, Ms. Ford also teaches ESL to adults through a private ESL company.

In her free time, Ms. Ford enjoys listening to music and reading books, especially those that focus on urban education and English language learners. Ms. Ford is a tremendous advocate for children, and firmly believes that all students deserve equal opportunity and a seat at the table.

Jessica Mazo

Drama/ Theatre Arts


Jessica Mazo has her B.F.A. in Acting from Syracuse University and her M.A. in Educational Theatre K – 12 from New York University. She has studied and performed at The Globe Theater in London, England, and at The Stella Adler Studios in New York City. Currently, Ms. Mazo holds the position of Vice President for the New York State Theatre Education Association.

Ms. Mazo loves teaching where she lives, and connecting with her community. She enjoys tennis, yoga, hiking, crafts, and zumba! Favorite directorial credits include: “Guys and Dolls”, “Clue”, and “Grease”. Favorite acting credits include: Alice "Alice in Wonderland" (WBT), Dorothy "The Wizard of Oz" (Tarrytown Music Hall), Perfect "Columbinus" (Edinburgh Fringe, Scotland), and Dunyazade "Arabian Nights" (Syracuse University).

Natalie Swan



Natalie hails from Rochester, NY and is excited to join the Unison family. She also works with the students of P.S. 56 teaching dance to the elementary students in the building. Ms. Swan completed her Masters in Dance Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and her undergraduate studies, in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children and Dance, at SUNY College at Brockport. Natalie is additionally certified in special and general education, grades 1-6, and is an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT ® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT ® National Training Curriculum.   

Dance is a passion of Natalie’s that began over 20 years ago. It has led her to apprentice with FuturPointe Dance, perform with David Parker’s The Bang Group and William (Bill) Evans, and attend Garth Fagan’s Summer Movement Institute. She has taught children, 2-18, over the past five years in studios and summer camps throughout Rochester, NY and New Jersey.  

One thought on “Leadership & Staff

  1. Hi,

    I am writing to you because of how fascinated I was regarding Mrs. Amy Piller’s article on Vox.com about segregation. Currently I am a post-graduate integrated language arts student at Youngstown State University. I also coach high school wrestling at my alma mater, but also high school football on Youngstown’s inner-city east-side. As part of my Foundations in Education course last semester, I also was required to complete 20 hours of tutoring at a charter school on Youngstown’s inner-city south-side. The article hit home with me, because through my experiences as a substitute teacher, coach and tutor I have seen how segregation still plays a role in schools today. As well as how some students struggle on the socioeconomic ladder, along with a troubled home-life that does impede on who they are as a person, student and athlete. It is extremely unfortunate, because I personally believe what makes us all so different is also what makes us all so great. Diversity is a beautiful thing. That said, I fell-in love with the art of teaching when I began coaching and then decided to give substitute teaching a try since I already held a degree ( I wanted to see if I enjoyed myself in a classroom setting before jumping back to school to pursue my teaching license). Needless to say, I easily saw myself as a teacher and currently on a path I know that allows me to make a positive an influence difference in this world. Anyway, I simply wanted to share my brief story with you as it pertains to Mrs. Piller’s article. I don’t know much about the Urban Assembly Unison School, but after reading that article it provides me even more confidence that our education system is headed in the correct direction.

    Thank you.

    -John Rozum

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