The Bridge to Brilliance with Nadia Lopez

By Amanda Chambers

In the first half of our two-part special, Toni sits down with Nadia Lopez, the famed principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Nadia gained popularity when one of her students named her as the most influential person in his life on the popular blog Humans of New York (HONY). She discusses her personal journey, the struggles and accomplishments of her school, and how her students ultimately wound up influencing her.

We can’t be apologetic for the things that we expect of our children, because nobody’s apologetic when our children end up in jail.
— Nadia Lopez

The HONY post came at a time when Nadia was feeling broken and emotionally exhausted. The post, which was liked by a million people in just one day, helped to revitalize the struggling educator.Although she almost gave up on her career because of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she instead persisted.

After the success of the post, the creator of the blog visited the school to see the inspirational principal in action. The post's popularity led to Nadia appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and meeting President Obama. Mott Hall Bridges also raised 1.4 dollars in two weeks.

I don’t suspend, especially our young black males, if they’re just being defiant because they need to be heard.
— Nadia Lopez

Nadia Lopez is the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a New York City Public School located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. She received her B.S. in Nursing at Wagner College. She then earned her Masters degree in Special Education from LIU Brooklyn. You can learn more about Nadia and her inspirational story in her memoir The Bridge to Brilliance.

Be sure to tune in to hear the full discussion with Nadia Lopez and Toni. Missed the episode yesterday? Don't worry! You can catch it again tonight at 7:30 pm and Thursday at 3:00 pm, or visit us online at Also, stay tuned for part two of Toni's conversation with Nadia next week!