19 Dec The Gift that Gives Meaning

Every year without fail I am asked by someone in our school community, “Ms. Lopez, what is our new t-shirt going to look like this holiday?” It has become an annual traditional at Mott Hall Bridges Academy that I gift each scholar and my staff members with a newly designed uniform t-shirt for the holiday season to boost their spirits and offer them a gift with meaning. The holidays can create a great burden on many of my families who must buy presents for multiple children. Many of my families can’t afford to buy presents because the average income in Brownsville is $28,000 ($11,000 in the housing projects), this can also create an emotional burden on our scholars from peer pressure when they return from winter vacation without something new and fancy. I wanted to make sure that my scholars came back renewed from the holiday break and ready to invest in their learning, which is how I came up with creating t-shirt designs that would serve to empower each of them on a daily basis.


One year, I dressed up as Mrs. Claus and wore my purple Santa hat with a dazzling sequenced dress to unveil the “Be Great” t-shirt. With it’s bold letters in the center, I wanted to make sure that each scholar was reminded that they are indeed kings and queens who wear a crown of confidence.

Education is extremely important, but if my scholars don’t show up to school or if the adults decide they want to quit, the importance of education is diminished. “Occupy Schools” has become our school’s mantra for everyone to remain encouraged through the challenges and be committed to show up every single day if we want to create our legacy within this world.

It’s been seven years and I have learned that there is tremendous power in words. If we know how to use them to empower children, then we can offer them as gifts that are absolutely priceless and will never be forgotten.

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