Mar. 2, 2015

Humans of New York & Teachers

“My name is Brandon and I began Humans of New York in the summer of 2010. I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers….” Brandon Stanton

If you’ve never heard of Brandon Stanton or “Humans of New York,” take a look at this site.  Our daughter, Leah, turned us on to Brandon and what happened when he interviewed a young man, 13 year old Vidal Chastenet, on the streets of Brooklyn and asked him who the person who had most influenced his life was, and he responded that it was his school principal, Ms. Nadia L. Lopez, of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

What happened after he interviewed Vidal is beyond amazing. He talked about Ms. Lopez and how she made the students in her charge feel that they mattered, that their lives were important, that they could have a future.  Ms. Lopez longed to take these underprivileged kids from this very tough neighborhood on a field trip to Harvard, to show them where they could go if they could dream big enough.  $100,000 was the goal Ms. Lopez needed to raise and after Vidal talked to Brandon Stanton about his hero, Ms. Lopez, and Brandon posted the interview on his blog, which was picked up world-wide, over a million dollars were raised.   Ms. Lopez, Vidal and Brandon appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and lives were changed.  You can see the YouTube video of Ellen and Ms. Lopez, Vidal and Brandon and I guarantee you, it will make you realize, once again, that teachers are, frequently, the most important people in our lives.

Having said that, I’m hoping that one teacher pops into your mind.  For me, it was Mrs. Hearn, who was my English teacher at So. Pasadena High School, who told me I had a gift for writing.  And then there was Ms. Bessie Quinn, who tried with all her might to get me through 9th grade Algebra.  She tutored me day after day, dried my tears, told me I wasn’t hopeless, and finally got me out of Algebra with a “D.”  A mercy grade if there ever was one.  Then there was Ms. Sowards, my biology teacher at So. Pas. High, who frequently brought her two poodles to class with her.  One of the requirements at that time was that students draw the things they saw through microscopes.  I have no talent at all in art and my drawings were just sad.  She knew I tried.  I dissected the earthworm, the grasshopper, and the guinea pig without losing my lunch, truly did my best, but couldn’t draw anything but circles for my amoebas.  She turned a blind eye to the fact that my friend, John Forsha, drew all the drawings for my homework. She knew it perfectly well and passed me anyway.  More mercy!  Being of the word-y persuasion, I got all A’s and B’s in English, History, anything that involved reading and writing, but math and science…not so much.  

Like you, we happen to be friends with or related to teachers.  These are amazing people, who love the children in their classes, pray for them, take extra time with them, and use their own resources to provide the supplies some kids just simply don’t have.  I’m really thankful for the teachers I had all along the way.  Here is 4-year old Texas Emily, in her Pre-K classroom, just beginning her journey into education.  Her teacher is amazing, btw!

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6