( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Changed Education System for Future Generation
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya
Award-winning educator Dr. Nadia Lopez has changed education for future generations. She has disrupted the school-to-prison pipeline and has become a viral sensation through her projects on helping children receive an education. Nadia was named LinkedIn’s 2019 Top 10 Voices in Education. She is someone we can rely on for our children and our children’s children to have educational opportunities and fairness within the school systems. Let’s celebrate this wonderful Afro-Latin woman and her accomplishments.
Dr. Nadia Lopez was born to a Guatemalan mother and a Honduran father. She became a viral sensation after one of her scholars named her, “the most influential person in his life”, which was found in the blog Humans of New York. Nadia founded the Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a STEAM-focused middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. In 2010 she served as the principal for ten years.
She received the Black Girls Rock Award alongside Michelle Obama in 2015. Dr. Nadia Lopez works hard today, to improve education disparities for future generations of children. Here is more information given to us by Dr. Lopez herself and her journey as an educator.
If I may ask who was the scholar that said you were the most influential person in his life? How did you two meet? Explain in your own words the chain reaction from his words to how it affected your career.
In 2015, Vidal Chastanet, one of my scholars was featured in a post on Humans of New York, where he shared I was his greatest influence. The story went viral that resulted in me being invited to the White House with President Obama, receiving the Black Girls Rock Change Agent Award alongside Michelle Obama, publishing two books, delivering TED Talk with over a million views, a becoming a Global Teacher Prize finalist.
What was the goal behind Mott Hall Bridges Academy, what made it stand out? The goal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy was to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. I created an educational experience that would allow children to see beyond the limitations imposed upon them by their neighborhood or society. By giving each of my scholar’s access and opportunities to meet people of color in fields where we are underrepresented, taking them to colleges and universities including HBCUs, and creating a school culture of high expectations and cultivates greatness it changed their trajectory and has led to college graduations and successful careers.
Are you planning on founding other schools in the future? While I do not plan on being the founder of future brick-and-mortar schools, I do offer online courses through my company ElevatED at www.elevatedblk.com. I am also currently a board member of Intellectus Prep Charter School, located in Mount Vernon, NY.
With the education system, what do you believe makes a good school for our children? Schools need strong leaders, qualified teachers, and strong parental involvement. All must exist for our schools to be the very best for our children to ensure that they thrive in the future.
What educational disparities do you believe are being overlooked and what can we do to improve our school systems and spot the warning signs of these disparities? In communities that are marginalized, it’s not just the issue of poverty that affects children, but the quality of education they receive. There is a failure to discuss how underprepared and unqualified many of the teachers are in our schools. Before the pandemic and since school has returned to in-person learning, children have significant academic gaps which means they are several grade levels behind and demonstrating a significant amount of behavior issues. With a lack of professional development and support many teachers are failing to meet the needs of children and becoming defeated, which results in so many who are leaving the profession. The warning signs are all throughout the mainstream media making the teacher shortage and low test scores headline news. Our community can’t sit back and wait for someone else to correct this because the children inside those classrooms are ours. Therefore, parents and community members must attend school meetings, which are open to the public; hold elected officials accountable for their promises to improve education; keep up to date with the news, and most importantly volunteer a few hours per year to see for yourself and advocate for change based on what you experience.
When did you realize helping children receive better education was the career for you? When I became a mom, I realize I wanted to be a teacher because of the impact so many educators have had on my life.
Please discuss some of your current and past projects on education and how they have impacted you and those needing them. I am currently traveling throughout the world to visit schools and learn about best practices that I share on my social media platforms. It’s important that we see education from a global perspective and understand that there are lots of similarities when it comes to this work and we can learn something new from fellow educators around the world. I also coach school leaders to build their capacity and help them develop sustainability practices to help them center their well-being.
To find out more information and her future projects visit her site The Lopez Effect for more information.