On January 19, photographer Brandon Stanton published a photo of 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet of Brooklyn on his hugely popular blog, Humans of New York.
This post was so beloved that Stanton decided to learn more about Ms. Lopez and the school she runs — Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He spent a day there, interviewing the honest and inspiring teachers of MHBA and their principal, Nadia Lopez. He featured them in a series of blog posts, dubbing Ms. Lopez “SuperWoman.”
He also featured Ms. Lopez’s dream to take all of her sixth graders on a trip to visit the campus of Harvard University every year. They started a fundraising campaign, and by February 10, the campaign had raised more than $1.4 million — far more than enough to fund the trip for several classes. All funds raised over $700,000 are going into a scholarship fund for MHBA graduates.
And where does Nadia Lopez draw her inspiration, strength, and resolve from? One of the sources is her own alma mater, Wagner College. She tells her story in a note she wrote to President Guarasci on March 3:
I attended Wagner College 1994–1998 and received my bachelor’s degree in nursing in May of 1999. Ironically, I never practiced nursing, instead became a teacher. I am the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. …
I have created a school where all adults are expected to work as a team to create the village that will support the success of our scholars. I have used my nursing education to apply a holistic approach to teaching the whole child, both academically and social-emotionally. But most of all, I draw from my own experiences in the New York City public school system and at Wagner College to create a learning institution that shows our scholars why they matter and how they too can become successful.
I would like to personally thank Professor O’Hare and Professor Tropello, who I believe were both new to the nursing program in 1995, during my second year at Wagner. The two of them, like so many professors, kept an open door for every student to share concerns, ask questions, and even provide a word of encouragement through the rigorous nursing curriculum. Truth be told, Professor O’Hare told me to consider education or psychology because she believed that my passion was for people, but not so much through a nursing career. Evidently, she was on to something, but I wouldn’t trade my nursing degree and the experiences I gained through the program for anything else.
Professors such as Dr. Brower and Professor Linda Raths also stand out because they made learning exciting and shared the love for their disciplines. My love for psychology and biology remain, and continue to be evident in my practices, as well as in our STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics] focus theme at our school. I would love for the opportunity to visit the school and to bring some of my scholars to visit the small campus, where so many professors have big hearts and care for their students beyond the classroom.
I thank you for your continued leadership, as the vice provost at the time that I attended Wagner. You made yourself available to us on campus and even if it was a minute to stop and say hello, you made each of us matter.
We salute Nadia Lopez ’98 and her untiring efforts on behalf of the children of Brooklyn. Congratulations to the students and teachers of Mott Hall Bridges Academy!