Meet Your ABC Class Team
Jason Baron, M. Ed
Master of Special Education/General Education, Dowling College
Bachelor of Science, Mass Communications, University of Hartford
As a Master in Education, Jason has over 15 years of experience working with children, young adults, and adults. He has taught Literature, English, Health and Executive Functioning at the college level. Jason’s diverse educational background ranges from Music Appreciation to Writing to Media Communications which has allowed him to provide support for students attending college classes including public speaking, advertising, TV and Visual production and many more. Jason’s extensive knowledge and understanding of music genres, his love of writing music and playing instruments and all things Disney makes for a perfect fit for Above & Beyond Community Classes. Jason’s commitment to bringing high-quality, meaningful experiences to participants of ABCC is a top priority. When he is not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his two boys, where you can find them anywhere- from a concert to just about any kind of outdoor recreation.
Christine Hawkins, LMSW
Master of Social Work, Marywood University
Bachelor of Science in Applied Science, Binghamton University
SIFI Certified, Adelphi University
Certified Safe Conversations Coach
Certified Imago Couples Therapist
Certified Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Practitioner
It really does come down to the saying, “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Christy considers herself beyond fortunate to live that by working with children, young adults and their families for over twenty years within several supportive and educational settings. Christy’s dedication to youth has led her to teach English and Math to street children in Kenya and Tanzania to teaching English and Psychology and leading the Environmental Club in a therapeutic high school in upstate New York. Christy then went on for her Masters in Social Work….just like her pre-K teacher, Mrs. Eagen had predicted. Christy’s masters thesis focused on the Human-animal Bond and Biophilia. For the last 13 years, Christy counseled and taught classes such as Social Psychology, Communications, Environmental Studies and Mindfulness at a college program on Long Island. Christy is happiest any time she can help people appreciate their surroundings, work towards their goals and connect well with others. Christy could not be more grateful for the evolution of the nonprofit, Blue Umbrella Experience so that this incredible team of instructors and students could come together for Above and Beyond Community Classes, Inc.
Amy has over a decade of experience dedicated to student development as a student counselor and instructor in higher education. Amy has a Juris Doctorate from Hofstra Law School, a Masters of Science in Education from NYIT and a Bachelors of Art in English from the University of Virginia. Amy’s teaching and counseling at two Long Island colleges, has been led by evidenced-based research on self-advocacy, skill-based learning and the brain-gut connection. Amy has taught courses such as Intro to Communication and Social Psychology, co-led improvisational classes, instructed cooking classes and implemented a wide variety of social activities within these college settings. In addition, Amy has served a wide population as an Attorney for Children in Family Court. As such, Amy is an entrepreneur who has owned her own business for over thirty years. She is proficient in budgeting, customer service, invoicing, marketing, networking and she loves sharing her successful tips and tricks with others. Amy’s background in advocacy, research and legal writing allowed her a role in assisting Dr. Carolyn Stone, President of the American School Counselor Association who authored School Counseling Principles: Ethics and Law. Amy’s particular area of current research and interest is in learning how to mindfully trigger the brain chemicals that generate happiness. Amy is also an avid explorer of the outdoors and little known parts of the world.
Although Gina started her career in a bank she felt that the field of educating young adults was where her heart belonged. Following her heart, Gina achieved a Masters Degree in Special Education/General Education from Dowling College and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Dowling. As the former Director of Independent Living at a college program, Gina has spent over 20 years providing skill-based learning to her students. In her role at the college, Gina was able to teach courses in personal finance, culinary, nutrition and community living. Gina’s commitment for student’s successful experience with ABC Classes is evidenced by her passion to think outside of the box for educating and encouraging others. Gina has designed and implemented a new class at ABCC called “Life Hacks” which comes from her love of saving money, being creative and using resourceful DIY techniques. Gina loves to read and encourages others to do so. Gina also loves spending time with her husband, their two daughters and their big, loveable dog Teddy.
As someone that has dedicated his career to supporting, counseling, and teaching children, young adults, and adults as they work towards reaching their goals, James was excited to jump on board with ABC Classes. James received his Masters in Social Work from Stonybrook University and his Bachelor's in Liberal Studies with a concentration in English from Seton Hall University. James is an avid sports fan and sports history enthusiast. In his career working with youth, he has extensive experience with teaching and coaching sports to children and teens in various community-based settings. James' most fortunate sports fan moments have been his opportunity to attend the 2008 Super Bowl where the undefeated New England Patriots met their match and the 1996 World Series Game 6 in which the Yankees won their first championship in 18 years. He is most passionate about the Olympics, basketball, baseball, and football and quite knowledgeable about the Political Economy of Sports, the Lebron vs. Jordan debate, and the 1919 Black Sox scandal. James also has deep roots in English and loves to write and help others find their writing voice and style.
Meet Marisa, Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer! Marisa is so excited to be a part of Blue Umbrella Experience! Marisa lives in Mineola, Long Island, NY. Her favorite yoga poses are Downward Dog and Plank. She believes adding yoga, meditation and mindfulness to your daily routine can make you feel calm and relaxed. Changing the way you think and look at life. It has helped her with her concentration and daily activities. Keeping health in mind, setting you up for a healthy life and mindset! Marisa has worked in schools and as a Job coach for many years and has brought her knowledge to teaching into her yoga classes! Marisa is a certified personal trainer and a certified yoga teacher. Marisa’s personal webpage is www.nyfit4all.com.
Peter A. Williams
Peter A. Williams is an American Actor, Singer, and Voice Artist from Ulster Park, NY. He is known for his work on Saint of the Impossible, Shift, Primal Instinct, Diabolical Pandora’s Box Unleashing Evil, The Perfect Murder, Deadly Devotion, The 11 pm Drop Off, and Precipice. Peter trained for Theater with Jeff Bennett, and Improv under John Dorcic at Bare Bones Theater. Peter is also a classically trained singer who trained with Marianna Benedict of the Amadeus Opera Company, and has taken TV/Film and Commercial Workshops with William Mercado of Leo Productions. Peter trained with Kara Edwards (Voice of Goten in Dragon Ball, Vento in A Certain Magical Index, and others). Currently, Peter writes, records, and produces his own podcasts: Detective Warren Stevens VS The Cult of Ickyatsu and Uriel’s Apprentice. While extremely proud of what he has accomplished as an artist, Peter is most proud of being a single parent and raising 3 fine sons.
Sara strives to bring a smile and a splash of happiness to everyone she meets. With a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and 10 years in the field, inclusiveness is her ultimate goal. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and oversees the Vocational Services department for a large non-profit organization. She recently completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and hopes to bring the transformative influence of the yogic philosophy to all.
Sara has seen the value of mindfulness when navigating the typical ups and downs of daily life. For Sara, yoga provides the ability to embrace the natural flow of life and release expectations. Yoga can help build the physical and mental stamina needed to face challenges with confidence and reaffirms that life is a journey—with stumbles and falls along the way, we all rise again.
Her classes will offer a variety of strength and stability work, incorporating flexibility and mobility for all levels. With the use of blocks, straps, and props, Sara will ensure an accessible yoga practice. She will guide students through the jewels of the yogic philosophy to establish positive and lasting affirmations and support a strengths-focused approach to the mind, body, and spirit.
Since graduating from Manhattan School of Music, David has performed
Off-Broadway and around the world in roles ranging from Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus to Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror. He simultaneously performed the roles of Sir Joe & Buttercup in Pinafore! (a seven-person production based on W.S. Gilbert's children's book The Story of the H.M.S. Pinafore) at the Vortex Theater. This production was honored with a Drama Desk Award nomination. Variety declared, "It's Macaluso who makes this saucy ship a beauty." David co-created, produced, and performed in The House of Murgatroyd, based on G&S' Ruddygore, which premiered to great success at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate, England. David has also directed, choreographed, and produced many productions with Opera NJ, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, Saratoga Opera student productions, and The Copland School of Music, Queens College. He most recently toured the US with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan players as Ko-Ko in The Mikado.
With Black Belts in Wushu, Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo, Andrew's passion for bringing Martial Arts, mindfulness and self-defense to all ages and all abilities are evident in his thirty years of dedication to teaching others. As an instructor that truly loves what he does, nothing makes Andrew happier than to see an increase in confidence and a sense of belonging within his students as they improve their skills, safety awareness, and mindfulness. Along with exercising and learning, every student in Andrew’s interactive classes experience his encouragement and his belief in the unlimited depth of their potential.
Erin has almost 20 years of experience working in education and can honestly say she has loved every minute of it. Erin has a Masters Degree in College Student Development from LIU and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Spanish from St. Joseph’s College. Over the years, Erin has had the opportunity to teach college courses in Psychology, Communications, Fitness and Wellness, including Cooking and Nutrition and even helped implement a collaborative fitness program with NYIT students and the Health Sciences Department. Teaching interactive classes where each student feels engaged and connected was behind Erin jumping right into designing and teaching a variety of classes for ABCC. Erin is passionate about her work with students and looks forward to her time with others….as she says, “as long as we are together, we have the time of our lives!” Erin’s personal interest, experience and knowledge in world travel (over 20 plus international cruises), cultures and culinary is shared with her sons Jake and Sean and her husband Anthony. Erin and Jake are excited to bring their shared love of Baking as a class to ABCC. If you can not find Erin, chances are good she is finding the best coupon deals possible, is at Dave and Busters or is actively rescuing an animal in need.
Starting in the city of Buffalo public schools, Bill has over 20 years’ experience teaching a variety of diverse populations in many classroom environments. He received his Master's Degree in Language Education from the State University of New York and a BA in French and International Studies from Niagara University. He has post graduate work in the fields of language acquisition and cognitive science and the study of history. Most recently, he has focused on workplace communication and internships, logging hundreds of hours job coaching alongside diverse student populations in hospitality, restaurant and retail environments. His job coaching experience is in major chains such as Hilton, Carabba’s Italian Grill, and Residence Inn by Marriott. He is currently also an adjunct instructor teaching employment strategies in a college setting. In his free time he is a writer and is the author of the award-winning middle grades fantasy novel, Chermpf.
Helene has over 20 years of experience teaching and counseling individuals in a variety of environments. She received her Master's degree in School Counseling from LIU's CW Post and her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from SUNY Binghamton. During her time teaching at a Long Island college, Helene was able to teach courses such as Sociology, Psychology and Communications. Two of Helene's greatest passions include hiking and working/volunteering in a variety of settings that particularly support youth and animals. As an extension of those passions, she likes to share those experiences with her students as often as possible by offering classes that teach and empower students to get to know and be involved in their communities. When Helene is not working, hiking, or volunteering at her local cat shelter, she loves to spend time with her daughter, husband, 4 cats, and 1 dog. Helene is very excited to be part of our team!