You grew up in Crown Heights, N.Y, and you’re the daughter of immigrants from Guatemala and Honduras, tell me how did that play a role in your life?
Dr. Nadia Lopez: My parents made education a priority and really instilled in me the significant value of education because they didn’t have the financial needs to provide anything else. Both of my parents were very hard working. They would wake up extremely early to go to their jobs. My mom was a nurse assistant and my dad, a professional photographer with black and white film, and that helped me understood their strong work ethics.
Culturally, it helped me when I visit family in Guatemala and Honduras. I had first hand of what poverty really looked like and how education was always prioritized.
As the founder of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn, can you tell us more about the academy and what you’re specifically doing for your students?
Dr. Nadia Lopez: Mott Hall Bridges Academy was founded on the idea that scholars need to realize their connections to the past, present and future; and understand how it all connects to their success.
The academy is to create a STEAM environment (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), where inquiry is used to develop critical thinkers through teaching and learning, building positive relationships amongst stakeholders and adhering to our MHBA codes of excellence.
Our STEAM program focus prepares scholars to not only become independent, critical thinkers, but equipped for the challenges of the 21st century. Scholars will develop the skills necessary to succeed in college such as identifying a problem, conducting research, developing solutions, and articulating their findings through dialogues and end of the year projects.
What would you say inspired you to come up with the idea of having your own school? – Can you guide us through a day as Principal Lopez?
Dr. Nadia Lopez: I’m a career changer. I was supposed to be a nurse. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nursing, I then entered the corporate sector field working for the phone company Verizon, and shortly after, entering Education.
What inspired me was the first school I was in had a high poverty rate. I saw that despite all the challenges students faced they were resilient. The students realized that as long there was an adult in the building who really cared about them, they would come to school every day without fail. They need to be inspired, motivated, and encourage everyday.
As for my days as a principal, no two days are the same. I am constantly in classrooms talking to teachers, to my scholars, and helping parents out. My day runs from 7:30 in the morning to when I leave school which is around 7-8 o’clock in the evening, just because that’s what it’s required to get the work done.