Cover art for podcast The Institute of Black Imagination.

The Institute of Black Imagination.

34 EpisodesProduced by darioWebsite

Welcome to The Institute of Black Imagination hosted by artist, writer, and brand consultant Dario Calmese. Each week we bring you conversations from The Pool of Black Genius: a collection of iconoclasts at the leading edge of cultural thought and innovation. More than anything, we are here to inspi… read more


E22. The Hidden Costs of Education w. Dr. Nadia Lopez.

Why open a school? To close a prison.  That is the title of the Ted talk given by today’s guest, Educator Dr. Nadia Lopez.  The award-winning founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn never dreamed of being a teacher. In fact, she took quite a circuitous route to becoming an educator.

The child of Honduran and Guatemalan immigrants, young Nadia struggled with her Afro-Latinx heritage, often being teased for her last name, while growing up in her native Brooklyn.  But it was this outsider status that would prove to be her superpower.  After an unfulfilling attempt to live out her mother’s dream of becoming a nurse, Nadia found her calling in the classroom; an opportunity to uplift and pour into the outsiders and misfits; those whom society deemed not worth the trouble. But it was this very attention and care that led to the event that changed her life.

On the verge of quitting due to burnout, literally waiting on a sign from God as to where she should be headed, one night she began to receive text messages. Then calls. Before she knew it, she had become an overnight viral sensation when the popular blog Humans of New York featured one of her scholars, Vidal, asking who was the biggest influence in his life. The answer? His principal, Nadia Lopez.

The New York Times. The Wall Street Journal. Ebony Magazine. Ellen Degeneres. Even President Barack Obama came calling. That aforementioned TED talk? 1.3 million views. Her best-selling book, The Bridge to Brilliance was published in 2016 and she co-authored Teaching in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was published in 2018. 

This all sounds like a dream come true, but just under the hood of this seemingly well-oiled machine, was a human being whose body was crumbling under the pressure. The over-giving. The never-ending work load. The personal sacrifices. It all began to take its toll. You’re in for a treat and I won’t give it all away, so please enjoy this in-depth, moving, and candid conversation with the incredibly generous and ridiculously wise Dr. Nadia Lopez.

Nadia's Instagram: @thelopezeffect

More information about Nadia's projects can be found here.

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