The Teachers Who Make Us


This is what the internet was made for. Brandon Stanton started profiling and photographing New Yorkers some five years ago, founding Humans of New York (HONY). Millions now follow his work, because he manages to tease out the most compelling, earnest, honest, wrenching stories from the strangers he meets. A couple weeks ago, he ran into a kid named Vidal, and asked him about someone who made an impact on his life.

Stanton “Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
Vidal “My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
Stanton “How has she influenced you?”
Vidal “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.

Brandon encouraged his followers to donate to a fund that would allow the school to take their kids to Harvard. To date, the public has a raised over a million dollars, enough to set up that field trip for perpetuity, as well as provide scholarships for deserving kids like Vidal. And just this week a picture went up of Vidal and Ms. Lopez were invited to the White House.

This woman is a national hero:

This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they areexpected to succeed.

Had any teachers or educators that made an impact on your life you’d like to celebrate? Let us know at We’d love to hear your story.