UASEM in the News

A Generation Z Perspective on Intergenerational Learning

by Gisselle Aguirre, UASEM Class of 2018
July 18, 2017, Domestic Preparedness Journal

As the next generation enters the emergency management field, it is time to think about the impact experienced generations can have on their younger counterparts. In emergency management, experienced professionals have knowledge that younger generations cannot gain until they are in the field, but they can share that field experience in the classroom and bring textbooks to life.

As emergency management becomes more integrated within the academic environment, young, interested students have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals who have moved into the classroom setting in colleges, and even in some high schools across the country. Putting a professor with hands-on field experience and emergency management students together in a learning environment can turn textbooks into something students can see as a reality. Having this contrast of experience in the classroom helps students take what they learn from their professors and textbooks, and turn that information into events that they can learn from as if they were there.

For example, anyone born after 1998 is presumably too young to remember the horrific events of 9/11. By discussing this event with professors and fellow students who experienced 9/11 and saw the damage, the mistakes, and the recovery, younger students can create connections to the event and begin to generate new ideas. These younger students learn what it was like to live through that event and how people felt during and after the attacks. With this interaction, students are able to experience the long-term effect of learning from past mistakes and figure out how to make things better in the future. Through this exchange of wisdom, students learn about what happened before, during, and after the event, which helps them reflect on what went well and which areas still need improvement. In emergency management, learning from past events is very important – something every person in the emergency management field needs in order to succeed.

While experienced generations in the emergency management field have the background knowledge of emergency management via learning and experienced events, those now graduating from school are just beginning to “dip their toes” into the field. When multiple generations come together to learn about events, it is an opportunity to generate new ideas. The experienced professionals have ideas based on what they learned in the field, whereas younger generations have ideas that may be new to people who have been in the field for a long time. The younger generations are not entrenched in their ways of doing things and can often bring a fresh view to the table.

Take technology as an example, young generations tend to be technologically savvy and use different types of technology on a daily basis. However, the more experienced generations might not have as much knowledge about technology since they were not raised or taught to use it at a young age. The younger generations then could show the older generations new ways to incorporate technology into emergency management – for example, by showing them how to use social media to quickly disseminate information to the public. This difference in age brings out new ideas and new ways to share information with the use of technology. It helps keep the way people look at and respond to events “fresh” as time goes on.


(Gisselle Aguirre is a 2017 graduate of The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management (UASEM). At UASEM, she was a mentee at the New York City Department of Education Emergency Management Unit, where she worked to create an Active Shooter Emergency Plan, participated in shelter walk-throughs to see if a shelter was accessible, and helped create mapping for emergency generator connections at shelter locations. In addition, she helped rebuild homes that were destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, helped sign people up for Notify NYC, and assisted in a readiness seminar at Con Edison. She will be attending St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York, in the fall where she will be majoring in biology.)

Next Responder of the Future


by Kay Goss & Catherine Feinman, July 26, 2017
Domestic Preparedness Journal

Each year, experienced emergency management and first responder personnel are retiring from their careers, and retiring the vital skills that they spent their lifetimes learning. As the next generation of young adults moves into these fields, it is critical for the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the previous generations to be passed on through education, training, and mentorships. Some organizations are leading this effort with youth programs that strive to attract new interest in emergency preparedness and response.

To address the importance of passing on legacy knowledge to the next generation and instilling in them the critical thinking skills needed to address threats that previous generations have not faced or even imagined, DomPrep hosted a panel discussion on 22 May 2017 in New York City (NYC). Salvatore Puglisi, emergency management teacher at The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management (UASEM), organized a panel of seven subject matter experts to share their lessons learned and best practices of intergenerational collaboration. DomPrep Advisor Kay Goss moderated the discussion and shared her knowledge on this topic based on her lifelong experiences in emergency management and as a champion for intergenerational education and mentoring in emergency preparedness.

Setting the Stage for Knowledge Sharing
The tragic events on the morning of 11 September 2001 were a turning point in how communities across the country manage threats, as well as how they prepare and respond to disasters. As such, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located at the World Trade Center, provided a sobering yet inspiring backdrop for the May discussion. The venue symbolizes the nation’s resilience as communities continue to face many uncertainties in an ever-changing threat environment. Some of those present at the panel discussion had been called to respond on 9/11 and some had not even been born yet, but all were forever affected by that tragic incident in some way.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum serves as a reminder of the lives lost that day, but it also symbolizes the post-9/11 world that the youths of today are growing up in. As experienced emergency management and first responder personnel retire from their careers, the next generation needs to harness the knowledge, skills, and abilities that those retirees spent their lifetimes learning. The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management (UASEM) is a New York City Public School, established by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the post-9/11 environment to help bridge this transitional gap through education, training, and mentorships. Other programs in NYC that introduce pre-college youths to emergency preparedness and response include FDNY High School for Fire and Life Safety, NYPD Law Enforcement Explorers, and NYC Youth Police Academy.

The May 2017 panel comprised three students from UASEM and four mentors from partnering agencies.

  • Keith Grossman, Emergency Management Director, NYC Department of Education
  • Gisselle Aguirre, UASEM student and NYC Department of Education Intern
  • Anita Sher, Assistant Commissioner of Training, NYC Emergency Management
  • Jalynn Jobe, UASEM student and NYC Emergency Management Watch Command Intern
  • Chuck Frank, Director of Emergency Management & COOP, Metropolitan College of New York
  • Amado Toledo, UASEM freshman and student in a class at Metropolitan College of New York
  • Paul Whitman, Region II Exercise Officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and former FEMA Corps Member

Keith Grossman’s mentor (Rich Rotanz) was in the room as he discussed his year-long mentorship with Gisselle Aguirre. With 1,800 schools in 1,500 buildings, 1.1 million students, and 160,000 employees, the NYC Department of Education is the largest landowner and largest employer, with the largest contracted bus system in the country. As such, the agency provides wide-ranging opportunities to build emergency management skills, which include: exposure to vulnerable populations and those with functional needs; walkthroughs to assess safety and security needs; and emergency sheltering practices.

With family in the emergency medical response field, Aguirre described her internship with the Department of Education as an “eye-opening experience” as she gained knowledge of response operations. She realized that help might not be immediate during a disaster, so there is a need for personal preparedness. Her newly acquired knowledge helped her in creating a new active shooter plan for the Division of School Facilities and School Food Warehouse Building in Long Island City in Queens. Although she wants to be a doctor, she stated that she will always take emergency management with her.

In addition to managing emergencies, emergency management involves public administration and management training. The field includes professional development as well as economic development because a strong emergency management program is more likely to attract industries and investments into preparedness efforts. When learned at a young age, these skills naturally traverse and become embedded in various disciplines and jurisdictions.

NYC Emergency Management
NYC Emergency Management has collaborated with the UASEM since before the school’s doors opened. Anita Sher described how exciting it has been to watch the school and their partnership develop, grow, and evolve over the years:

For us as partners, our relationship has changed and evolved. First, it was about helping with curriculum and bringing resources in (What do these kids need to know? What were they ready to know? How can we marry emergency management with education?). Then, we came to a point of being able to bring young interns into the agency. We were not really structured to bring in high school students but, with the help of my staff, we were able to bring in three interns. We thought long and hard about what roles they could play, where they would fit in, and where they could learn and support the agency.

Sher and her staff came up with three places to embed high school interns into the agency’s operations: (1) the Watch Command and day-to-day operations, which includes some research projects; (2) the Medical Unit; and (3) the Ready New York Program. Since this was a pilot internship program, the agency and the school are continually learning how to improve the program.

Jalynn Jobe worked in the Watch Command, where she shadowed personnel to learn what they do. She also conducted a “History of Watch Command” project, where she learned about incidents that were not on the news, but were still a big deal, such as a street collapse or house explosion. In doing so, she learned how the agency managed information and communicated with other agencies and the public. She stated that she felt very prepared when she began the internship because she had a foundation from the school. Jobe expressed an interest in furthering her study in business, but feels that what she has learned in the classroom will complement her future career endeavors.

No matter which career path these interns take, they all will certainly become ambassadors for the mission of emergency management, which is linked to business continuity, as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association in its NFPA 1600. All sectors need someone on the staff who knows about emergency management, resource management, and business continuity. After evaluating what went well, NYC Emergency Management plans to develop a long-term internship program and expand the opportunity to other schools.

Metropolitan College of New York
In addition to being the director of emergency management and continuity of operations at the Metropolitan College of New York, Chuck Frank is also a member of the new advisory board to the UASEM. In this role, he works with other board members to determine how to build a bridge from high school to undergraduate study:

We started a program where students that were chosen from the high school could come one night a week to take a lecture class, be enrolled in the college, get their I.D., have the use of all the facilities (e.g., libraries, computers) at no cost to the high school or to the students. If they pass the class, then they start to build their transcripts with college credit. The first class they are exposed to is Introduction to Homeland Security, then they have an opportunity to continue with an online class (i.e., Introduction to Business Continuity). These young people gain knowledge and want to apply it to other fields. So, at no cost, they can get six credits toward college.

Although the program is usually only offered to high school seniors, one young student broke that trend. At 14 years old, Amado Toledo took the Introduction to Emergency Management course, which gave him a different perspective and made him consider emergency incidents that could occur. College offered this bright student a new challenge and, as he stated, it made him “think harder.” Afterward, Toledo received a summer internship in politics at Princeton University. Because he felt prepared with a strong foundation from the UASEM and Metropolitan College, he stated that he did not feel intimidated by college students or the college environment.

Unlike Toledo, Aguirre, who was in the first Introduction to Homeland Security course at Metropolitan College, admitted that she did feel a little intimidated being in a class with much older fellow students. However, the experience was unique and beneficial:

I don’t have an emotional tie to events like 9/11 because I was only 1 year old. I know it was terrible, I know it was horrific, but being able to sit there and talk about how emergency management has shifted since that event with the professor’s and students’ experiences, it was different than being in a classroom with only people my age. We weren’t there. We only know the facts that are on paper. Having a young person’s perspective and an older person’s perspective combined was a really good and unique learning experience.

The professor and some college students who were veterans challenged the thinking of younger students and provided different perspectives. All students were encouraged to be interactive and use critical thinking to analyze and determine other ways of handling these situations. For example, lectures introduced post-disaster events and concerns that are not discussed publicly (e.g., human trafficking after a disaster), with guest speakers including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and The American Red Cross.

In exercises, participants tend to practice what has already happened, but it is necessary to imagine what could go wrong, along the lines of “worst case scenario,” including incidents that have not yet occurred.

A critical component of emergency management is collaboration on a broad scale. The more diversity represented, the better. For example, making plans for senior citizens or persons with functional needs, but not including representatives from these populations in the planning process is a grave error. Planning efforts should include people from all ages, genders, nationalities, religions, races, et cetera in order to build trust.

The Mentor-Mentee Experience
When asked why they chose emergency management over other programs, the three mentee panelists provided different responses. When she saw UASEM at a community fair, Aguirre knew that UASEM would be a good fit based on the emergency response exposure she had through her family. She described the school leaders as welcoming and said they created an environment for youths to thrive. Jobe did not learn about the program until she was already in the school. Her interest grew from that exposure. Toledo chose emergency management because it seemed different and intriguing, and he likes having the opportunity to save lives. Whitman also wanted the experience to help others and, as a student, FEMA Corps offered that opportunity. To encourage other students to explore the emergency management experience, the panelists described highlights from the program:

  • Hands-on learning, such as tabletops, CPR, and first aid;
  • Eye-opening classes on planning, preparedness, mitigation, and response and how to apply these skills during a disaster;
  • The diversity of the emergency management field, with many scenarios to analyze and real-world experiences to explore;
  • Improved chances to get into emergency-related professions;
  • Opportunities to help people;
  • The ability to apply lessons learned in other situations; and
  • Discussions about different aspects of disasters to broaden perspectives.

“The concept of emergency management fits so well in the high school environment because you can fit all the basic skills into emergency management (math, English, science, history). All the basic skills you learn in high school are things you need to bring to emergency management ... and to life,” said Sher. “There’s a place for everyone in emergency management. Everyone has a role and needs to come to the table.” The more inclusive the field is, the better and stronger it is as well.

In addition, Grossman added, “You don’t even need to pick a focus. You can put emergency management anywhere (e.g., healthcare, medicine, IT). When I was coming up in the field, I didn’t have any of these opportunities. I had to make them for myself. When you have these opportunities, you never know where you will end up.” A lot of progress is being made, and the future is looking bright in emergency management. The key is to harness and build upon ideas and feedback from emergency preparedness professionals and youths who strive to build and retain strong workforces to prepare for and respond to any type of threat, hazard, and risk.

How I Teach: A science teacher’s method for pushing past ‘I don’t get it’

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By Christina Veiga  -  September 1, 2016

How do teachers captivate their students? Here, in a feature we call How I Teach, we ask great educators how they approach their jobs. You can see other pieces in this series here.


Casey DePasquale’s foray into teaching was supposed to be temporary.  She joined Teach for America a decade ago with the hopes of learning about medical issues in underprivileged communities, and eventually applying that knowledge as a doctor. Instead, she got hooked on teaching and never left New York City classrooms. DePasquale teaches high school science, including an Advanced Placement course, at Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management in Lower Manhattan. She is working on her second graduate degree: she already has a master’s in secondary education and is a candidate for another in school leadership. Still, DePasquale finds time to mentor other teachers — a role she has taken on for the last five years.

A word or short phrase to describe your teaching style:
To teach well, you must also learn. To learn well, you must also teach.

What’s your routine like when you arrive at school?

  1. Arrive at 7 a.m.
  2. Coffee.
  3. Re-read and put final touches on updated lesson plan with my co-teacher.
  4. More coffee.
  5. Print lesson plan and materials while coordinating logistics with my co-teacher.
  6. Set up classroom for the day while listening to Acoustic Morning on Spotify.

What does your classroom look like?

An overwhelming amount of labels! I want my classroom to be a predictable, student-oriented place where every item has a home. It’s also hard to miss our turtle, April.

What apps/software/tools can’t you teach without? Why?
Google Drive! Having Power Points, Docs, and spreadsheets that update in real time that students can “view only” is huge for making mid-day changes, and incorporating student input and relevant, current information.

How do you respond when a student doesn’t understand something?
In the first month of school, I push students away from “I don’t get it,” because I can’t look into their brain and find out where they got lost. Instead, I ask students to go through their work again and star where they lost understanding. Is it a word? A phrase? An example? Asking students to reflect upon where they get lost helps me better decide how to redirect them. At least half of the time, re-reading something does the trick and teaches them to be more self-directed.

What’s your go-to trick to re-engage a student who has lost focus?
I generally prompt them to ask me a question about something we’ve learned. If the question is relatively on track, it brings them back.

What hacks do you use to grade papers?
Find a rubric template that works for you and tweak it to use with different assignments. Write one strength and one piece of feedback – anything more is too overwhelming for me and I find that the student loses focus on the feedback anyway.

What are you reading for fun?
“Brilliant Blunders” – a book about mistakes made by some of our greatest scientists.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Admit when you’ve made a mistake with a student. The teacher is not always right.

Learning Career Skills in High School

By Leslie Brody, May 25, 2015
The Wall Street Journal

As four New York City ninth-graders arranged soil, pebbles, plastic bags and tongue depressors in a clear box, they hoped their model levy would work better than the ones that failed New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

They watched with suspense one morning last week as water seeped through the dirt, and then celebrated when the levy seemed to block its path. Their teacher, Salvatore Puglisi, was cautious. “Come back in five minutes,” he said, “and see what happens.”  Unfortunately, the water broke through.

Studying disaster prevention and recovery might seem like a niche theme for a new high school. But the Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management in lower Manhattan reflects a growing brand of “career and technical” education, which aims to marry academic rigor with practical know-how, leading to middle-class jobs.

New York City’s expanding CTE roster has 51 dedicated public high schools, including 13 launched in the past two school years. They try to use training in specific professions, such as television production and graphic design, as a hook to excite students about learning so they pursue college—and equip the students with marketable skills if they don’t.

Supporters say CTE today is far more demanding than vocational tracks a generation ago, which were often seen as dumping grounds for students who couldn’t handle college-preparatory courses.

Phil Weinberg, a deputy chancellor at the New York City Department of Education, cites the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan to illustrate the changing emphasis. It was launched almost a century ago to prepare immigrants to work as seamstresses. Now it requires applicants to submit art or marketing plans and has a 92% graduation rate that far exceeds the city’s 68% rate, based on the city’s data.

These career-oriented schools focus on “the skills necessary to be a great thinker, a great citizen, a great student,” Mr. Weinberg said. “They are not vocational programs in any way, shape or form.”

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg spurred their growth. While Mayor Bill de Blasio has reversed many of his predecessor’s education policies, this is one area where they agree.

Now 26,000 students attend CTE high schools, and that number is poised to grow. Counting CTE courses offered at other schools as well, the city says 117,000 students participate. This push comes as many employers report that young people need more than high school diplomas to compete in today’s tough global labor market.

Career and technical high schools are supposed to work with industry partners to provide students internships and tailor classes to employers’ needs. They are also expected to teach the Common Core, a set of standards adopted by New York and most states for essential skills to be mastered in each grade.

Seven of the city’s CTE high schools are run by Urban Assembly, a nonprofit network that aims to close achievement gaps.  “We’re looking for the kids having the toughest time,” said Urban Assembly Chief Executive Richard Kahan. “Our overall goal is to get everybody into the middle-class economy.”

At the UA New York Harbor School on Governors Island, for example, students learn to be commercial divers. At UA Maker Academy in lower Manhattan, they use 3-D printers to build prosthetic hands. And at the UA School for Global Commerce in East Harlem, they study freight logistics.

Some teachers say these options give students a real-world sense of purpose, and teenagers who feel useful are less likely to become discipline problems.

At the UA School for Emergency Management in lower Manhattan, which is in its second year, students have helped demolish homes wrecked by superstorm Sandy and signed people up for “Notify NYC,” which sends emails and text alerts about local emergencies.

Several students said they hoped to become police officers or rescue workers. Yash Sharma, a 9th-grader, commutes for an hour and 20 minutes from his home in Jackson Heights, Queens, because he wants to be a firefighter. The school helped him develop a “sixth sense” for potential hazards, he said, and he always tells authorities if he sees untended bags at train stations. “I like to look around my surroundings,” he said, “and see if anything could happen.”

Not all career-oriented schools succeed. Automotive High School in Brooklyn has been failing for so long state officials have threatened to take over or shut it down if it doesn’t improve soon. Last fall, city officials announced an overhaul and required teachers to reapply for their jobs.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has pushed for more quality CTE choices. To encourage growth, the board announced in October that students can now swap an industry certification test in culinary arts, welding, accounting and other trades for one of the five Regents exams needed to get a diploma. New York City officials say they want to expand CTE in health, tourism, construction and software engineering.

Many educators see promise in the model of P-Tech, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The school even got a nod in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2013. Its students can complete an associate degree in six years and are first in line for jobs at International Business Machines Corp. , its corporate partner. IBM says 40 similar schools, working with many companies, will be operating in the fall nationwide. Next month P-Tech’s first graduates will get their two-year associate degrees in computer systems technology. Three plan to pursue bachelor’s degrees and three will go to work at IBM.

Privacy, Policy and Digital Communication Seminar


Professor Phelan with Hamilton & UASEM students.

Professor Phelan with Hamilton & UASEM students.

 By Catherine Phelan, April 24, 2015
Hamilton College news site

High school students from The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management (UASEM) in New York City visited Hamilton on April 16 -17 to discuss privacy in the digital age with a group of Hamilton students. The fast-paced conversation included fundamental questions related to distinctions between adult and adolescent perspectives on privacy and reputation management.

The Hamilton students are enrolled in an innovative seminar titled “Privacy, Policy, and Digital Communication.” They are working with the high school students on a digital privacy toolkit that could be shared with adolescents in the future to explore digital privacy.

The larger goal of the seminar is to understand how privacy, freedom and democracy are intertwined.  In February, Hamilton students enrolled in the seminar visited the UASEM students in Manhattan to begin the conversation on privacy and social media.

This work is made possible with funding from the Levitt Center and assistance from Hamilton’s Library and Information Technology Services.

HIGH SCHOOL Students Measure Disaster Preparedness of NEW YORK Residents

UASEM students gave New York resident Ben Spalding (L) a survey on disaster preparedness. (Eric Zhang)

UASEM students gave New York resident Ben Spalding (L) a survey on disaster preparedness. (Eric Zhang)

By Sarah Lee | April 30, 2014
The Epoch Times

High school students from the newly founded Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management braved the rainy Wednesday to talk to New Yorkers about disaster preparedness.

The students from UASEM met at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and interviewed the public.

“Our students have created a survey along with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] to try to get information as to how prepared different communities are across New York City,” said school principal Rodolfo Elizondo.

FEMA regional administrator Jerome Hatfield came to support the students and help inform people about the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy.

“What we’re trying to do is to really focus government to support areas of communities that are most in need,” said Hatfield.

Students also went to other parts of the city, including the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. After the students analyze the collected data, FEMA will use the information to help plan for New York’s next potential disaster.

Ben Spalding took the students’ survey. He is a Boy Scout, who keeps extra food and water in his house, has a first aid kit, a radio and even hand-cranked flashlights, but the survey reminded him of a couple of things he hadn’t thought of.

“We have two cats, and we don’t really have a plan for how to take care of them in any sort of emergency or disaster,” said Spalding.

UASEM is in its first year of operation. New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and FEMA have been working together to support the school and help develop the curriculum.

Students in the freshman class say the information they’ve learned has already helped them, even if they don’t end up with a career in emergency management.

“The program itself is great. You learn how to help people. You learn how to prepare for disasters, all types of disasters, man-made and non-man-made,” said student Joli Tejeda.

“Actually, we learned about how to do a family preparedness plan at home, so that we can be prepared, and I talked to my family about it, and we’re more prepared for a disaster,” said student Luis Cortes.

In three short years, the state of New York has experienced a total of nine federally declared disasters. According to a 2012 FEMA survey, only 39 percent of Americans have a household emergency plan in place and almost 50 percent did not have emergency supplies set aside in their homes.

Preparing for Disaster: UASEM & FEMA's PreparAthon!

UASEM Students get a shout out in the New York Times!

Preparing the Next Generation of Emergency Service Leaders


By Anthony S. Mangeri, Domestic Preparedness Journal, Dec 25, 2013

Emergency management is a constantly evolving profession. Anyone wishing to become an emergency manager or work in emergency services should be able to adjust to an ever changing environment and bring calm and structure to a crisis response. Emergency management studies teach students how to develop critical thinking skills and a thorough understanding of the emergency management cycle and incident management process.

Developing Critical Skills
Education plays a critical role in building these skills and preparing students for a career in emergency management, which typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree. However, some professionals go a step further and earn a master’s degree as well. Writing and presenting ideas in a structured and concise way are skills that emergency management students acquire over time. As these students transition from the academic to the real-world environment, speaking and presenting ideas to a variety of audiences becomes very important.

At the core of the profession is the development of plans, policies, and procedures to support, protect, and strengthen the community against threats and hazards. To demonstrate a commitment to community and service, many successful students gain practical experience by volunteering in local emergency management, fire services, emergency medical services, Red Cross, The Salvation Army, or one of the many other volunteer organizations that have emergency service components. Other notable skills for the successful emergency manager include the ability to: think critically; communicate and present skills effectively; and discuss community planning and preparedness efforts in a clear and concise manner. He or she also must be able to: hold workshops and provide briefings to inform the public in times of crisis; understand the tools, systems, and standards commonly used in public safety, such as the National Incident Management System; and continue training, as well as sharing and discussing best practices.

The role of crisis management continues to expand into many private sector areas to include healthcare facilities, utilities, financial institutions, as well as colleges and universities. Because emergency preparedness professionals are now working in many areas outside the public sector, those seeking to work in these areas must understand the details of operations in these sectors as well as in emergency management.

The emergency manager of the future also may transition from other professions to emergency management. In the private sector, for example, emergency preparedness may be a collateral duty, leading many to seek a master’s degree in emergency management or choose to enter certificate programs that provide education that complements their existing education.

Younger Training & Greater Opportunities
A trend that will likely continue to grow in 2014 is incorporating emergency management and responder education into high school curriculums. In New York City, for example, a first of its kind high school dedicated to emergency management studies is midway through its first year. The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management is a Career and Technical Education program and is part of the New York City Public School system. The focus of the program is to integrate emergency management and response curriculum into the core high school experience. Students receive their core high school education through 10th grade, after which they choose from one of three tracks: Response and Recovery, Emergency Communications and Technology, or Emergency Management.

One major success of the program has been the school’s ability to collaborate with local emergency management and disaster relief organizations to provide students with real-world interaction and community readiness. Students graduating from the UASEM program will be well on their way to meeting the training and experience requirements for the International Association of Emergency Managers, Certified Emergency Manager designation. In fact, the students may earn up to 14 college credits upon completing this high school program.

The growing threat of terrorism has changed the role of emergency managers; planning for the consequences of terrorist actions has changed the face of emergency management. However, the mission remains the same. The emphasis continues to be on developing an all-hazard, integrated strategy to protect communities in times of crisis. Emergency management students of the future will need to develop risk assessment and operational planning skills to address community-wide preparedness.

Emergency managers must continue to develop strategies to effectively respond to and recover from all known threats, including terrorism. Emergency planners are working to develop effective operational plans that foster integration of federal, state, and local disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and risk-reduction initiatives.

Anthony S. Mangeri, MPA, CPM, CEM, is the manager of strategic relations for fire services and emergency management and is on the faculty of the American Public University System. He has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management and public safety. For more than 10 of those years, he served as the New Jersey State hazard mitigation officer. During the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, he served as operations chief at the New Jersey Emergency Operations Center, coordinating that state’s response to the passenger-aircraft crashes into the World Trade Center.

UASEM Student Volunteers Recognized in Jewish Week Newspaper

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First US School for Emergencies

UASEM in the NY Daily News on September 16, 2013.

UASEM in the NY Daily News on September 16, 2013.

September 16, 2013
By Rachel McMahan, The New York Daily News

The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management team will prepare students for careers as first-responders, public servants and corporate managers who plan for the worst-case scenarios.

THEY WERE babies on 9/11, but students at the nation’s first emergency management-themed high school may lead the response to future tragedies.

The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management, which opened in Manhattan last week with just over 100 ninth-graders, will prepare kids for careers ranging from first-responders to public servants and corporate managers who plan for the worst-case scenarios.

“I’m so impressed with the students,” said Sean Waters, a branch chief with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which, along with the Red Cross and other employers, is helping advise the school on what the kids will learn, eventually offering internships. “It’s the future of our organization; we hope to see these kids accepting positions in federal, state and local emergency management.”

UASEM — the high school name has an abbreviation just like the government agencies working with it — is one of 27 career-and-technical-education high schools opened in the city since 2002 with the aim to start kids on the path to a career in promising industries.

The school has already proved popular among students — with roughly three applicants for each spot — even if they were too young to have witnessed the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I was 1 year old; I don’t remember,” said ninth-grader Gisselle Aguirre, 13, who was nevertheless excited to have landed a spot at the school. “My dad is a lieutenant for the FDNY. I always wanted to be like him.”

Last Wednesday, the school marked 9/11 by studying the events of 12 years ago. But the lesson wasn’t just a textbook learning.

Emergency-management teacher Sal Puglisi, who for the last six years taught special-education science at a Bronx middle school, was an EMT who survived the attacks. He worked his students through questions on everything from conspiracy theories to how it felt to go home that day not knowing where his former partners were — instead of attending a memorial this year.

“This is more important,” said Puglisi, who still wears a bracelet with the names of his EMT partners who died 12 years ago. “I can let them live on through me and teach about them and how they died and possibly educate the next generation of emergency managers how to look at things.”

School Dedicated To Emergency Management Among New Proposed City Schools

April 4, 2013
By Lindsey Christ, Education Reporter, NY1 

UASEM Principal, Rodolfo Elizondo

UASEM Principal, Rodolfo Elizondo

Does the Future of Emergency Management Lie in a High School?

  By: Elaine Pittman, Emergency Management Magazine, August 29, 2013


A new high school in New York City that integrates emergency management into core curriculum could produce the next generation of emergency managers while helping professionalize the field.

On Sept. 9, about 120 ninth-graders will start their high school education in the new Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management. A nonprofit organization, Urban Assembly is a network of public schools in New York City that aims to provide students with traditional education combined with technical skills and real-world experiences. The organization opens schools based on labor trends and talks with industry to identify current needs.

“There’s a general movement toward localizing emergency management and empowering communities to take these things into their own hands, and this is a really exciting way to do that,” said Liz Oliver, the school’s partnership coordinator. “Our students will be ambassadors to their own community and know what to do should another hurricane or attack strike New York.”

As a public school, all students are welcome to attend — although it’s not going to be filled with a typical day’s worth of coursework. Oliver said the school days will be more rigorous than that of an average public school, and students are required to have an internship, do volunteer work, connect with people in the profession and complete certifications, such as first aid, CPR or GIS.

One challenge was adding emergency management into the curriculum. The teachers are not emergency managers, so the school is relying on its network of industry, nonprofit and government partners to understand what students need to know and what qualities emergency managers should possess. Those partners include FEMA, the New York City Office of Emergency Management, American Red Cross and National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, as well as Adelphi University and the Metropolitan College of New York, higher education institutions that offer emergency management degrees. The school also is working to add the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to its cadre of partners.

“It’s our partners’ job to come in and see places where they can integrate into every core class — English, science, math, history — places where you can insert this emergency management lens that we’re trying to use to teach our students the core curriculum,” Oliver said.

English classes will include communications skills that are important in the field through the study of public service announcements, persuasive speech and organizing and prioritizing information. A field trip to North Brother Island, which was under quarantine during New York City’s typhoid outbreak and where Typhoid Mary was housed until she died in 1938, will include public health experts discussing quarantine and epidemics in history and contemporary society. Oliver said this trip will connect well to the ninth-grade global history class that discusses the movement of people around the world throughout history, as well as biology classes studying infection and the spread of disease.

The first year will include a broad survey of emergency management, and as the students’ understanding of the field increases, their education will become more specialized. At the end of the 10th grade, students will select a pathway, similar to a college major: response and recovery, emergency communications and technology, or emergency management. And by the 11th grade, they will have completed an internship, said Oliver.

While the school seeks to provide career and technical education, Oliver said it’s different than vocational-technical schools that were created in response to the industrial economy. “This is a new evolution in education to prepare students for career and college,” she said. “One of the reasons aside from labor trends that we chose emergency management as a school theme is that the skills, character and personal qualities that you need to be a good emergency manager — like problem solving, communication and collaboration — apply not just to emergency management and will help them be successful in whatever they do.”

After graduating from the high school, students will not be required to pursue emergency management, but based on why they want to get this education instead of a traditional one, it’s clear they are seeking a humanitarian path. When asked why they are interested in this school, Oliver said many students say, “We just want to help people.”

“There are a lot of problems in New York City,” Oliver said, “and it can be really empowering to them to have the tools and a very direct way to help people.”

As the school prepares to greet its first round of freshmen in early September, it’s clear that the education model will be watched by public- and private-sector emergency managers as it provides a new, formalized method for developing the future of the field.