Mott Hall Bridges Academy principal Nadia Lopez was broken and on the verge of giving up until she saw the words of 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet.
Last month, the student told Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton that Lopez is the person who most influences him. When Stanton shared Chastanet's photo and comments on Facebook, the post got 1 million likes and led to an Indiegogo fundraiser for the students of Mott Hall Bridges, a school located near the Brownsville projects in Brooklyn, New York. The fundraiser has since collected more than $1.2 million that will go toward trips to the Harvard University campus, summer programs and scholarships.
On Tuesday, Stanton, Chastanet and Lopez sat down with Ellen DeGeneres to share their story.
"I was in a place that I was broken, and I think every educator gets there," Lopez explained. "You give so much, you put in long hours, and I literally went home and I broke down and cried and told my mother I couldn't do it anymore ... And she said, 'God placed you in that school for a reason.' And then Monday, when I read it, I couldn't even believe it that he thought enough of me."
DeGeneres had another surprise in store. She announced that Target was going to outfit every classroom at Mott Hall Bridges with "state-of-the-art electronics" and give similar grants, totaling $100,000, to other schools in the area.
On Thursday morning, Stanton, Chastanet and Lopez appeared in a segment with Robin Roberts for "Good Morning America." The story had touched Roberts, whose grandparents dropped out of middle school and whose own mother was greatly influenced by a teacher as a young girl.
“Ms. Schnegg is a legend in our family, because she made sure my mother knew that she was expected to go to college. She sat down and helped my mother apply for a $100 scholarship, and my mother used that scholarship to go to Howard University," Roberts said, per Humans of New York. "And that one act rippled down through several generations. Because of that, my mother met my father. And they raised four children who went to college. And because of Ms. Schnegg, I’m where I am today. So I look at the story of Ms. Lopez and this school, and I think of Ms. Schnegg, and I think of how much my mother would have loved this story."
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