Jessica Semmel was born and raised in New York City and Long Island. She went to SUNY Albany where she got her Bachelors in Psychology and Biology and went straight on to get her Masters in Social Work. Jessica worked as a social worker for 15 years before getting her Masters of Science in Teaching at Pace University as a NYC Teaching Fellow. As a social worker, Jessica served a variety of populations. She worked as a psychiatric social worker in a residential treatment facility for children with severe, emotional disabilities in Sacramento, California, and as a school social worker for boys with emotional disabilities in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For 11 years, Jessica worked at YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities, running a group home for adults with developmental disabilities, recruiting and hiring in the HR department and then doing Early Intervention Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) with young children on the autistic spectrum. While working as a social worker, Jessica also worked part time as an adjunct college professor at the College of New Rochelle and Westchester Business Institute. Jessica was on the Social Work Board of Advisors at Iona college and helped to supervise social work students at the group home she was supervising in New Rochelle.

After Jessica had her son, she went back to school to become a special education teacher. Jessica worked from 2012-2018 as a public school special education teacher, in a special class for children with intellectual disabilities and autism, in the South Bronx. Jessica is passionate about teaching and helping children learn in the way that best suits each child’s needs and learning style. Jessica is skilled at assessing children’s needs and differentiating lessons specific to each child. Jessica brought her expertise to PS 527 starting the 2018-2019 school year. Jessica’s son graduated in 2019 from PS 527, where he had the most wonderful elementary school experience. Jessica co-leads the Equity Team with Ms. Nana Evans as well as running the monthly Equity Team professional development trainings. She is also on the Mental Health Committee.

When Jessica isn’t working or hanging out with her eleven year-old son, she is immersed in a two year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program. She is also learning and teaching about social justice, being a staunch environmentalist, knitting, coloring, playing scrabble and listening to NPR. Jessica received her 200-hour yoga certification in August of 2018. Jessica loves meditating, silent retreats, yoga, Qi Gong, Reiki, using essential oils and studying Eastern Medicine. Jessica is a breast cancer survivor and has a degenerative retina disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which allows her to have only central vision with no peripheral vision. Jessica walks with a vision cane as she can only see what’s directly in front of her. Don’t be scared to ask her questions, she’s happy to talk about it and she is eternally grateful to have her remaining central vision!