Monique Paes is a Special Education Teacher at Bronx River High School and the school's Huskies Esports Advisor. A native of Brazil and raised in Queens, NY, Monique has always been passionate about education. When she first founded her Gaming Club with strategy board games in 2018 - she noticed that her students with Special needs began to thrive socially and think critically, Gaming became the one thing that they looked forward to in their day and the club that offered them a safe space. The pandemic halted their ability to gather physically, but it did not keep them from finding innovative ways to gather virtually. Even though the quarantine period created some dark times, it provided us with a light at the end of the tunnel with the founding of our schools Huskies Esports. Today, Ms.Paes' students have a formal team that have won 3rd place in Rainbow Siege during the summer and are continuing to improve their skills through coaching and competitions. Gaming has truly been the greatest equalizer for her kids and a safe haven for those who are looking for a place to belong.