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Originally featured in the NYC Department of Education Charter Schools Weekly email newsletter. 

Charter School Hero: Karina Lopez,  Director of Student and Family Affairs

Girls Preparatory Charter School of New York

Nominated by Alexis Cardasis, Academic Director

What makes this individual a hero?

Karina has been a dedicated part of our community for years, starting as an after school coordinator and then as our current Director of Student and Family Affairs. Karina is an incredible educator and is an integral part of our school leadership team. She is the glue that keeps us connected to our students and families and never, never gives up on children; even when other people have thrown in the towel out of frustration, Karina finds a way of connecting with a child and forming a relationship so that they can be more successful in school.

On a daily basis, Karina goes above and beyond for our community. She supports our team in creating a student culture that is positive and responsive, but also holds high expectations for students. Her job can be extremely stressful, with multiple kids coming in to her office for emotional support and reaching out to parents, but she handles these challenges with grace and a sense of humor. She is humble in the best sense of the word.

Please give one example of this individual's heroic actions within the school community.

During the COVID-19 school closures, Karina truly stepped up to the plate to ensure that our kids felt seen, heard and supported. A perfect example of how amazing she can be is the planning and preparation that she put into creating a truly magical 8th grade “prom“ for our graduating class. While a virtual prom in a pandemic seemed insignificant to some, nothing could have been more important to our kids. Karina sensed that a celebration like this would help bring a sense of normalcy in uncertain times and she rose to the challenge. Prior to the celebration, one of our most self-conscious students was unable to get her hair done and no salons were open due to COVID. Seeing a need, Karina got in her car, picked up this student and brought her to a family member's house to get her hair done and her outfit ready for the dance. Not many people knew about the lengths that Karina had gone to get this girl ready for prom, but seeing this student feeling beautiful on her special night was worth it. Karina not only hosted a fabulous Zoom prom, complete with a DJ and student highlights, but she allowed our kids to be seen for the beautiful humans they are in the midst of a national crisis.

What else should the NYC charter school community know about this hero?

Karina is an incredible human being and should be celebrated!