Principal Was Ready To Quit, Then She Heard What This Student Said About Her

February 5, 2019

A school principal who was on the verge of quitting decided to keep going once she realized the impact she was making on her students.

nadia lopez
Principal Nadia Lopez

When photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York encountered 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet in Brownsville, a neighborhood with one of the highest crime rates in New York City, he asked him who has been his biggest influence.

nadia lopez principal
Credit: Humans of New York

"Who's influenced you the most in your life?"

"My principal, Ms. Lopez."

"How has she influenced you?"

"When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."


When principal Nadia Lopez learned about his response, she felt her prayers were answered.

"I was ready to quit, I was ready to resign, I was done, and my mother told me to pray on it, and I just felt like I didn't want to pray on it, I wasn't ready to pray," Lopez told PBS.

The day the Humans of New York post went up, Lopez was at a play and kept receiving text messages from friends and colleagues.

"I saw what the texts said, but immediately I was told that I had to turn off my cell phone, because I was in a Broadway play. I was like 'Oh my God, I don't even know what this means'. By the time intermission came my daughter said, 'let's go, you have to actually see what's going on'.

It was just so heart-warming and touching to see that my scholar had thought enough of me to even include me in something that was so innocent, just a couple of lines that he mentioned me, enough to say that I influenced him the most, when he really could have said his mom, who I think is dynamic. So it really touched me. After that, I went home and I started reading a lot of the posts, and I was just overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with joy and filled with tears because it made me feel significant at a time when I didn't really feel like I mattered in my work anymore."

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