Fretting over that back to school time of the year? Maybe your child will have a principle like Nadia Lopez? Or are you a faculty of staff member wondering if you are making a difference, be inspired by Nadia Lopez. Lopez is the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school located in the mostly African-American Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Both she and the school are drawing national attention after one of her students, Vidal Chastanet, crossed paths with photographer Brandon Stanton, who is also the founder of the Humans of New York website.
When asked who was the most influential person in his life, Chastanet stated the following about Lopez:
“My principal, Ms. Lopez…When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
Lopez strongly believes that it is important for children to know they matter. Inspired by the frequent disappointments of missed appointments from volunteers of the My Brothers Keepers program, Lopez started her own initiatives, “I Matter” for young boys and “She Is Me” for young girls. Black men in law enforcement, entrepreneurs, and professionals are invited to meet with male students in the “I Matter” program. For the girls program, “She Is Me”, guests/volunteers vary from celebs to local entrepreneurs, who share their personal stories of how they overcame, so the girls can understand that the process doesn’t always look as good as the end result but to keep at it.
The principle also wants the children to think bigger than their Brownsville community, so she fundraises often for school activities and field trips.
Lopez has received many accolades, a trip to meet President Obama at the White House, and a book deal. Her book, Bridge to Brilliance is to be released later this month, and in it she is to talk about how important it is to build relationships around her school and students.
Unfortunately, the school and her works’ popularity, often leads others to think that she or the school has lots of funds, but Lopez says that much of the money the school receives is divided amongst other schools in the district.
While being awarded at the Black Girls Rock 2015 show, Lopez said the following about her students, “My dreams for my scholars is simple. I want them to take over this world.”
Reading about administrators like Lopez should make us as parents feel a little safer about sending our children out into the world.