Positivity Is Contagious and It Begins with Principals

Aug 28 3PM
Positivity Is Contagious and It Begins with Principals

“I want every child who enters my school to know that they can go anywhere, and that they will belong.” – Principal Nadia Lopez, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, New York.

At Kickboard, we believe positivity is contagious. We also believe that in order to create a positive school culture, the leadership team must first establish a real mindset shift within school walls and throughout the community. In fact, we get very excited when we hear stories of real school leaders who empower students by creating a mindset in which everyone works together to achieve small successes every day.

This is why we’d like to pass along a story that The Atlantic has been covering the past few weeks.

On January 19th, Humans of New York blogger Brandon Stanton met 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet in Brownsville, one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. Stanton asked Vidal, “Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”

Vidal answered, “My principal, Ms. Lopez. 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.”

Vidal’s quote sums up what we believe matters most about positive reinforcement and leadership – that a positive shift in mindset will have real affects on students.

We encourage you to check out the full video of this inspirational story at The Atlantic. Before you head over there, let’s quickly summarize how Ms. Lopez made a difference:

She Shifted the Mindset, Set Clear Expectations, and Stuck With It

Ms. Lopez founded Mott Hall Bridges Academy in 2010 to serve the Brownsville community. Right from the start, she had to overcome apathy as she felt no one thought the school, her scholars, or the community mattered.

But that only made her push harder to instill a complete mindset shift towards a positive school culture.

As Brandon Stanton continued to document the story of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, you’re able to see that Ms. Lopez truly believes that even the little things can make a big difference in creating a more positive school culture . In her own words, Ms. Lopez states, “In this building my kids are going to feel like they are successful. I have the control in this building of what that looks like and what the expectations are.”

Furthermore, Ms. Lopez makes her presence known throughout the school day. This in turn adds another layer of accountability for her scholars.

“If you are the leader you must lead and show your face because it causes people to become accountable.” – Principal Lopez.

The Results of a Shifted Mindset and Positive School Culture

The story of Vidal and Ms. Lopez spread like wildfire over the Internet. On January 22nd, Humans of New York began raising money to send Mott Hall Bridges Academy’s scholars to Harvard with a goal of raising $100,000 for program expenses. Since then, over $1,417,984 has been donated to the scholarship fund and will be used for Harvard trips, summer programs and scholarships for graduates. The fund is called The Vidal Scholarship Fund – and the first recipient will be Vidal.

Want to learn how to create a positive school culture, but not sure where to begin?

Learn helpful hints and tips by checking out our playbook, 6 Steps to a Positive School Climate & Culture.

PBIS-how-to-guide

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