I'm sure by now that many people have heard of Humans of New York, a photography series with its very own Facebook page where Brandon roams the streets of New York City taking pictures people and telling their stories. The stories that make up the enormous textbook of life, that are the very pulse of one of the greatest cities in the world.
Many of those people have moved us, motivated us, and brought us together for the same cause! Through HONY people all over the country encourage and support each other, sometimes even financially.
Such is the story of a young man named Vidal.
It all started with this picture and this quote.
"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.”
From there Vidal's story took an interesting turn. Brandon was intrigued, and inspired to go to Vidal's school to meet the famous Ms. Lopez. What he discovered was that she was every bit as amazing as the young student made her out to be.
“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 are expected to succeed.”
Soon, people started to notice how much a caring principal could impact the lives of students who otherwise would not have much hope. Strangers came together and realized that she needed help to enrich the lives of the future of New York. A fund raiser was started and people from across the country sent money to support her goals and the dreams she had for her students.
The school now has enough money for an annual trip to Harvard University for the next ten years, a summer program for the next ten years, and they have enough left over to start a scholarship fund for outstanding students.
The first student to receive it will be Vidal.
If we as a community have the power to do that for a school in New York, it is completely possible to turn around schools everywhere.
Especially in places like Puerto Rico. The public school system on the island is absolutely pitiful.
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico is investigating the suspicious wave of robberies and vandalism in its public schools that began after the government announced its intention to cancel its multimillion-dollar contract with a private company that guards the schools at night
The best thing that these schools have to offer is the free breakfast and lunch program,
but is food really enough?
Every student deserves to feel like adults are doing everything possible to make sure they receive a good education. That is simply not the case here. Public schools have high drop out rates, and students are generalized. They feel that no one believes in them, which in part is true, and it shows.
How long will it take before people take notice here and start to make the necessary changes?
If every school in PR could be like Mott Hall Bridges Academy the island would witness a remarkable turn around.