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The Bridge to Brilliance: How One Principal in a Tough Community Is Inspiring the World

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Be inspired by the magnetic young principal who "stands on the front line of the fight to educate America's children." (Brandon Stanton, author of Humans of New York ) and the book that Essence calls "Essential reading."

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--
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Viking
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Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
5 stars for Nadia Lopez and what she has achieved in one small school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. And 5 stars for the simple direct way in which she tells her story. The Bridge to Brilliance had me more interested than most novels I have read recently and it had me tearing up quite a few times. I gather Lopez and her school’s story hit the press in the US in early 2015, but reading her book was my first introduction to her, her school and her students. In 2011, Lopez opened Mott Hall Bridges Acade ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've had this book on my "must read" list after reading the description in one of Essence Magazine's book release sections. I cannot remember the last time I finished a book this quickly and I was captivated from start to finish. Ms. Lopez, the principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, takes the reader through the struggles, triumphs, and every moment between them that she experiences on a daily basis at her school. As someone who was gifted with a top notch education growing up, I am well aware o ...more
Beth Knight
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it, education
4.5 stars. This is a good book, with just a few "slow" spots. Even though I'm not a teacher, I'm obsessed with books about education. I graduated from college long ago and I miss it. I'm always tempted to go back to school to get my teaching certificate, and this book made those feelings stronger. Ms. Lopez is an inspiration. The book made me think about and feel for all the kids who live in and attend school in underserved communities. It's easy to get lost in your own privilege and forget abou ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked the idea of this book. It’s obvious she is committed to the children and loves her job. I worry about becoming like her. Too committed to others children and not working enough on building her family or own child. Balance is key in education and I just didn’t see that in this story.

She shares some amazing stories like meeting Barack and her experience with Humans of NY. I don’t envy or aspire to live her life. All work and no play. Is this what changes lives? I’m torn. I appreciate her
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I knew Nadia Lopez from the Humans of New York post in 2015 and the fundraiser that enabled her to take her entire school of underprivileged scholars to visit Harvard. But that was only the surface of her story, which is beautifully articulated in this reflection on the origins of Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

I was fortunate to hear her inspiring keynote address at the ISTE 2018 Conference, and I’m glad I chose to buy and read her book.

A must read for all educators, policy makers and community le
Dec 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was a huge reminder why I got out of NYC. I love teaching--- and I love(d) my students with a passion, especially the tricky ones--- I enjoyed meeting them, getting to know them and figuring out how to help them and get them to read and question--- so when I saw this book announced on Humans of New York, I thought that this would be a great addition to my brain.
But then....then I actually picked up the book....and was reminded of exactly why I left the NYDOE.
This principal comes off
Tony Parsons
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a former social worker the environments I worked in were Juvenile detention & a 6A inner city school. I also worked in Mental Health as a crisis emergency service social worker.
Growing up in 13 different states & attending both rural/urban schools I was very touched what the author/writer has been through. Never give up, never get discourage. Do you’re very best to keep the child out of harm’s way, most of all get them an education & help them find a job in order to be a productive citizen i
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The country needs many more principals like Nadia Lopez, who fights tenaciously for the children in her NYC middle school. It seems fortuitous that the story of Mott Hall Bridges Academy was brought to light in the blog Humans of New York, because Ms. Lopez has a lot of practical advice for helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed. And she also has some helpful thoughts on what constitutes progress in students' lives, and that some successes are not measured by standardized tests. ...more
Jessica Abarquez-New
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just a reminder of why I teach.
Karen Ashmore
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about how a woman started a middle school in one of the poorest neighborhoods of New York. She succeeded by focusing on social and emotional development, in addition to academic achievement. But most importantly, she instilled ambition in students who previously had been hopeless.
Beth Lind
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered this middle school principal on Instagram when Humans of New York featured a student who spoke of how he was inspired by his principal. And I can see why he was inspired! She is a force of nature of good for the children of Brownsville. The world needs more Ms. Lopez’s.
Alex Slater
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a lovely read. As a teacher it was what was needed at the end of the term; a reminder that hard work does have an impact, even if we don’t always see it. Nadia is quite a star.
Nadia Lopez began to have a vision, and with experiences in other schools, taking what she thought worked, and rejecting what did not, started Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school that began with only a few sixth graders, but grew to one with about 200 sixth, seventh and eighth graders from the neighborhood of Brownsville. The statistics are staggering. She tells that this “school to prison pipeline” begins early, in pre-school! From the U.S. Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Colle ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an educator, I am inspired by Nadia Lopez's story. Starting a school in the roughest neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY for a community that is underprivileged and low income. She started from the bare bones, with only handful of students the first year and has continued to build her school into a safe haven for her scholars. She has shown them that people care about them and that they have opportunities no matter what society may say. They now know they have to work hard and they have an incredibl ...more
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This is the amazing story of Nadia Lopez and her commitment to educating the whole child. Ms. Lopez left the corporate world to become a teacher. She is driven and moved quickly with her advanced education, classroom experience and leadership training to become the first principal of a new school in 2010..well a new school in an existing building. The Brownsville section of Brooklyn is dangerous complete with crime, gangs, drugs and gun violence. In fact due to the extent of crime, Brownsville i ...more
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
reflections: I used read Humans of New York on Facebook every day. The photographer would shoot a photo of a person and ask a question. In one post, a young boy told about an influential person in his life, the principal of his school.

The Bridge to Brilliance is written by that influential person. Ms. Lopez received a grant to open a middle school in inner-city Brooklyn in 2010. The first chapters tell details about her plans for the school. The students would be called scholars, not students. T
Ye Lin Aung
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book (with not very few parts, understandably).

I first found out about this book from HONY, like many others. I have read the story about the school, the kid and Ms Lopez before and I have a huge admiration for them.

Ms. Lopez is the MVP. She has the huge heart.
She understands and values the utmost importance of the education.
She listens to everyone and values everyone equally.
She does not give up and she is such an inspiration. I wish I had a teacher like her.

I also had a glimpse ho
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I first saw this story on Humans of New York, like most people, and was so inspired then by Ms. Lopez and her school. Even though I am always a little afraid of being "Three Cups of Tea"d when I read this sort of book, I can't really find anyone who DOESN'T think this is an amazing story. If we could clone this woman we could improve education by leaps and bounds. Love the story, love Ms. Lopez. My only concern--she admits to doing almost nothing but work--every day, all day, into the night. Thi ...more
Nia Ita
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a MUST-read for anyone in the education field and a strong recommendation for anyone in leadership. Nadia is an inspiration for anyone looking to make a difference in underserved communities. This book outlines the process of her founding Mott Hall Bridges, all of the challenges and successes. There is so much to learn - my copy is heavily highlighted and annotated.

I had the pleasure of hosting Behind the Book interview with Nadia - feel free to check it out here:
Bryon Butler
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Early on Nadia Lopez’s book The Bridge to Brilliance, How One Principal in a Tough Community is Inspiring the World, gave the impression of a passionate educational leader, one who would stop at nothing to provide a solid present and hopeful future for her students, yet who had the answers for everyone: teachers, students, parents, and the reader. This tend towards personal hubris was further assumed when I discovered that she had led a TED talk, an uber-mark of having made it. It continued with ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I think this is a must read for anyone going into the education field. Behavior issues are on the rise and teaching to the test is what you can expect in this profession. The public education system and children need help more now than ever and the system is failing so many. Most politicians have never stepped foot into public schools to see what it is really like. They don't care and that's a problem because schools need better funding and support.
Nadia Lopez is a principal that gives her all
Nancy Palmer
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like many of us, we have our own lessons to learn, and Nadia Lopez has had a very tough one. When you are given a mission in life like Nadia, it can be a painstaking process with much sacrifice from beginning to end. Hers begin from the bottom, ground-zero and required resilience, imagination, toughness and a large capacity to fulfill her purpose. To carry out her dream required exponential imagination, a vision and the belief to manifest the results she had envisioned for a period of time for m ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
It makes me sad that there are so few teachers/administrators like this woman. She cares a lot about her "scholars" as she calls the kids in the school she started, and she has so much energy!

There are competitions for designing memorials and bridges, etc. but why aren't there competitions for trained public school teachers and principals to design innovative new kinds of schools like Ms. Lopez's Mott Academy?

Two little quibbles: Ms. Lopez refers to student's mothers as "Mom _____" but refers t
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wish there were a 'two and a half stars' rating. Saying I "liked" is almost too strong. The audio quality was good, the story advanced, and the author told her story well. But my initial reaction was something along the lines of, "another story of victory (almost) snatched out of the jaws of the failing education system's inner city meat grinder." I am so happy that there are great educators like Nadia Lopez out there, but it makes one wonder why her colleagues are not also "stepping up ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I initially picked up this book because of the Humans of New York photo series. As an educator, I was inspired by Ms. Lopez's go-getter attitude and work ethic. I was humbled by her passion, and I was challenged to bring the same passion to my work.

However, the more I read, the more I realized how unhealthy her life was. Near the end of the book, she describes a chronic sickness that she had developed due to her extreme working conditions. I was slightly dismayed at the thought of the sacrifice
Debra Oliva
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...every child can learn, every child matters, and every child should have the chance to walk across the bridge to brilliance." - Nadia Lopez
These are the closing words of the book and I could not agree more! As an educator, I have spent the last 20 years convincing my students that they are capable of achieving their dreams.
Ms. Lopez tells us how she is achieving her dreams with a particularly challenging group of students, her road is much harder than those of us who work with middle-class st
Avis J.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I needed this

As a father this book taught me I have a ways to go as far as supporting my son when it comes to his education. Patience really is a virtue. Education is a joint effort and is a 24 hour thing with responsibilities falling or parents and school staff( not just teachers). Nadia Lopez definitely leads by example and in my opinion the definition of a true leader. Her strategies and dedication really inspired self examination. We have to instill in our children an unbreakable self belief
Sabrina Davidson-ratcliffe
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When one person actually cares, this is what can happen. To read Ms.Lopez continually offering hope and encouragement to her "scholars" when many had probably never heard such language, was in itself an inspiration. This is a lady that doesn't back down, works hard for what she wants, knows her goals and stays focused until they are accomplished. That is something else I believe her scholars benefited from. Her passion for wanting these children to have the opportunities they deserve just beams ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic - I loved hearing about Nadia Lopez's journey through education and as a leader. As someone who grew up in NYC Public Schools and is going into Public Education (in NYC), I loved hearing her perspective and gaining insight into the ways in which she has run her school.

Fantastic book for anyone - educator, parent, student, citizen - who wants insight into public education.
Anthony Andre
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I may be biased because I’m an educator, but I finished this book feeling inspired and motivated to be better. I find a lot of myself in Ms. Lopez from the way she thinks about our children and the way she thinks about education. I felt connected to her struggle. I appreciate her honesty, toughness, and character in this book. I feel fired up after reading this book, and want to do better for my kiddos and for my future role as an educator.
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