MBRP Program Director and Work-Based Learning Coordinator
Mr. Mauricio González, M. Sc.
New York Harbor School
212.458.0800, ext. 1201
Soon after being born on the high mountain plateau of Bogota, Colombia, Mauricio moved and grew up in Queens, New York City. After graduating from Archbishop Molloy high school, he took a 6-month cross country journey across the US and returned to his native Colombia to pursue a degree in Marine Biology. While there he earned a full scholarship for his studies and wrote a thesis book on coral reefs of Tayrona National Park where he was a park scientist for a year. He also defended sea turtles from poachers on the pristine beaches of the Caribbean. After living among local fisherman and conducting workshops with them, he decided his calling was in environmental education. With this experience he returned to New York in 2001 and immediately began working at schools with underrepresented youth. In this time, he has developed innovative programs to enhance youth’s exposure to the natural world and won the prestigious NYC Big Apple teacher of year award in 2018. He is an adjunct professor of research which gives him the opportunity to prepare high school students at the New York Harbor School for college level research and oceanography. He is the founder and director of the Marine Biology Research Program and the Civic Science team, New York Harbor SEALs. He embraces the pedagogical concept of phenomena-based learning and believes that all people have a unique genius that needs the right space and time for developing. He believes in creativity over knowledge and thrives when his students are engaged in long term research. Mauricio also manages an ambitious Work-Based Learning Program where students work on real-world environmental science projects while interning at various organizations across the Tri-state region. In 2021 he graduated with a post-master’s certificate in school building & district administration and was one of only four graduates to have their research published on the important topic of work-place bullying. When not hard at work he enjoys exploring New England’s backroads on his motorcycle, gardening, archery, music, and watching movies with his family.
Click image above for Mauricio’s marine biology thesis on coral ecology.
Click here for an article written for the Huffington Post on CTE.
Funding and Support
The Harbor SEALs and the Marine Biology Research Program are part of the NYC Department of Education’s New York Harbor School. Funding and support for the Programs is (has been) provided by the NYC Department of Education, CIVITAS Citizens, ConEdison, the Black Rock Forest Consortium, Sea Savers Inc., Manhattan College, Roger Williams University, The Nature Conservancy, Columbia University’s LEEFS and SEEDS programs, SUNY Albany’s University in the High School Program, Rozalia Project, SUNY Stony Brook’s ACE Program, the NYC Science and Engineering Fair, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Harbor Foundation, the Hudson River Foundation, and a lot of volunteer time of various friends in these and other partner organizations.
“I found myself being one of the few Hispanics or black students in each of my classes [in Carnegie Mellon] and at first it was a little intimidating and discouraging, but I realized that as Hispanic male coming from my background I had a very unique opportunity here. I have a chance to prove doubters wrong and show everyone that yes I am a Hispanic male from an inner city but I also can succeed at an institution of higher education. Realizing that has really motivated me into standing out in my classes. I always sit in the very front of all my lectures and I’m always constantly asking questions in class and not just regular clarification questions, I’m asking questions that shows my professors that I’m paying attention but I’m also thinking openly and critically. Also for the first time ever i find myself not being bored in class. Throughout high school teachers always spoon fed you the information so you wouldn’t have to think. The only exception was in your class where you always encouraged us expand our minds and think outside the box for ourselves. I feel that because of that I haven’t struggled yet in college. Professors are not really there to teach you, they are there to give you little tips and tools in order for you to think and understand the big picture of whatever they are talking about for yourself and learn to apply that to world. Carnegie Mellon being a very research intense school, really believes in that and makes a really strong effort in applying that to its students.” – Randy Garcia, Class of 2011
“This is the email you told me i would be sending you when i faced the real world… I have to admit that everything you taught the Marine Bio class last year has made my life so much easier and you were completely right about life smacking me right in the face. I write lab reports and read so much it can be overwhelming. It is currently my third week in college and I have actively read about three textbooks and multiple articles (not only in my science courses but for English and history too) and have pulled two all nighters. My papers are usually three to six pages long and in 12 point font , single spaced. I have completed about four of these. College is so different from high school… you’re just one face somewhere surrounded by three hundred more… No one holds your hand like they did at Harbor. You have to bust your butt to earn a grade and sacrifice so much including down time you usually have. At Harbor it felt as if I were invincible.. passing with a 70 was perfectly okay. Its evident to me that my high school mentality has changed. I can only pray that the current seniors listen to you and take your advice because god knows it will come in handy. If you decide to read this email out loud like you did with us, I just want all the seniors to know that your class really does prepare someone for college. Its hard and can get the best of you but I can promise its only the beginning. Marine biology might not be what they aspire to major in but its the same amount of work and dedication for any other major. I know because I witness it everyday now. Its tough and stressful but I really want to thank you for teaching me the skills and for helping me be able to adapt to this environment Mauricio. Your class and your advice has made this transition much easier. I hope all is going well and that I get to see you very soon to thank you personally.” Ileana Leon, Class of 2013
“I mean, before I understood that you were exposing us to things that could initially, what many would call, “wake us up” I never fully grasped it until this morning. So this email is basically a thank you for being amazing and patient with all of us cause sooner or later the ones like myself who didn’t completely grasp what you are trying to do will get it. Thank you so much. I can’t say how thankful I am to have had someone like you a part of my life.” – Tsiang Belgrove, Class of 2014
“Hey Mauricio! I hope your summer has been great and that Anita is well. Today was the first day of classes for Purchase and the courses are challenging, as I expected them to be. What I also expected was that other students would be just as prepared, knowing how to present in front of the room, how to ask questions, or even how to project their voices louder than a whisper. All day I’ve been frustrated with my peers because they don’t get that they have to take their classes seriously, asking “why don’t most people have basic problem solving/presentation/critical thinking skills?” And then I realized that I’m the odd one out. Just as you said, the American education system schools you, and although I’m sure people agree with that, they don’t see the real influence it has on our development as people and even the relationships we create until you step back and look at it from a student from the New York Harbor School’s perspective. That’s why I thought of you, and why I’m thankful for you teaching me, and all of the marine bio kids, to be as calm and as ready about college as I feel. Thank you.” – Julia Montilla, Class of 2016
“You should definitely let your students know that your projects can easily take them far!! I know you’ve relayed this to my class, but seeing it in action is truly amazing. Thank you for helping me with my project then, because it is helping me now!!” – Melanie Smith, Class of 2017
“Hey Mauricio, been meaning too write you for a while now. All I have to really say is just thank you for being an outstanding teacher for me. You really have taught me life lessons that have helped me get through some difficult times. I hope you and your wife are healthy and doing well as well as thriving. Hope nothing but the best for the best teacher in Harbor School . I don’t want this to be too long so I’ll end it here but thank you so much for being my CTE teacher. I’m so glad I was placed into you program even if I didn’t like it at first.” – Hildeberto Sierra, Class of 2019
“Hey Mauricio, I hope all is well and that you had a good summer. I just started college but here I am already thanking you for your teachings on how to present. I quickly realized how important it was during my lecture COM 155 FYS class on civic engagement. He has us presenting information instantly and on a further look into the syllabus we will be doing research and a final presentation as well as weekly presentations. I already have one due on Tuesday. Here I am already stressing my first paper in college. I hope we can catch up soon and if you want to tell your classes about this email so they realize that college is no joke especially since they will see it’s my name. Thanks again . sincerely,” – Dylan Constable, Class of 2020