In 2010, Nadia Lopez started her middle-grade public school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, in one of America’s poorest communities, in a record heat wave — and crime wave. Everything was an uphill battle — to get the school approved, to recruit faculty and students, to solve a million new problems every day, from violent crime to vanishing supplies — but Lopez was determined to break the downward spiral that had trapped too many inner-city children. The lessons came fast: unengaged teachers, wayward students, and the educational system itself, rarely in tune with the already disadvantaged and underprepared.
Things were at a low ebb for everyone when one of her students told a photographer that his principal, “Ms. Lopez,” was the person who most influenced his life. The posting on Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York site was the pebble that started a lucky landslide for Lopez and her team. Lopez found herself in the national spotlight and headed for a meeting with President Obama, as well as the beneficiary of a million-dollar campaign for the school, to fund her next dream: a field trip for her students to visit another school — Harvard.
The Bridge to Brilliance is a book filled with common sense and caring that will carry her message to communities and classrooms far from Brooklyn. As she says, modestly, “There are hundreds of Ms. Lopezes around this country doing good work for kids. This honors all of them.”