A Brilla Interview: Mrs. Natividad Moina

Mrs. Natividad Moina, who goes by Mirna, is a proud Brilla mother and a loving wife. Originally from Atlixco, Mexico, she has found a home in New York City having migrated here over 20 years ago. More importantly, NYC is where she began her family having met her husband, an Ecuador-native, and then giving birth to her sons in 2008 and 2012. Mrs. Moina’s story helps shed light on the way our Brilla families help make Brilla a true family and also how Brilla has positively impacted the lives of the Moina family.

Brilla is a Home for Scholars and Parents

Mrs. Moina is no stranger at Brilla. Some staff members have joked with Mrs. Moina about getting her an office at one of the schools. Currently, her sons are enrolled in 5th and 1st grade, so she finds herself spending a significant amount of time at both Brilla College Prep Elementary (BCPE) and Brilla College Prep Middle (BCPM). From volunteering with the Family Involvement Committee (FIC), to attending Parent University and the Mott Haven Celebration, Mrs. Moina is completely invested in the lives of her sons and is, therefore, “a regular” at Brilla. For many years Mrs. Moina held a full-time job. A few years ago she made the decision to be a full-time mother and, therefore, a full-time Brilla mom. “Sometimes I am concerned about being short for money but then I remind myself that my sons are worth it,” said Mrs. Moina with a peaceful look on her face, “I only ask that my children do their best at school,” she added.

The Moina family posing for the “Scholar of the Week” celebration.

Ms. Moina wants the best for her children, so when she heard about Brilla College Prep when it was founded in 2013, she “fell in love” with Brilla. As a cutting-edge charter school that sought to provide character formation in addition to offering a quality education, there was a high demand for each seat. Mrs. Moina patiently waited for two years before being selected in Brilla’s lottery. “I filled out an application for Brilla three times and the first two times my son was not selected, but I did not give up because I knew I wanted my son to attend Brilla,” Mrs. Moina said. Therefore, without hesitation, she gave away everything related to her son’s former school and enrolled him in 2nd grade at Brilla upon receiving the call that her son had a seat. Last year, she had the great pleasure of enrolling her second-born son in kindergarten at Brilla College Prep. “He was awarded ‘Scholar of the Week’ his first year at Brilla,” Mrs. Moina said with a proud look on her face.

Mrs. Moina and her sons at one of their many Perfect Attendance Breakfasts.

Mrs. Moina is certain that Brilla’s culture has taught her sons to enjoy school. When her eldest son was enrolled in his former school, it was obvious to her that he did not enjoy going to school. “He would come home unhappy… he said the teachers were unkind to him,” Mrs. Moina said. However, his attitude toward school completely changed once she enrolled him at Brilla. Mrs. Moina is overjoyed that both of her sons enjoy school. In fact, they lobby not to be taken out of class for doctor visits or dentist appointments. “I know better now,” she said, “they love to be at school so I schedule all their appointments in the evening or on the weekend.” Mrs. Moina is proud to say that both of her sons have had perfect attendance since their first day of school at Brilla. Mrs. Moina knew that Brilla served as a second home for her family, but this was made clearer when, a couple of years ago, the Moina family was considering moving to New Jersey.  Mr. and Mrs. Moina decided to stay in the South Bronx because their eldest son pleaded with them not to take him out of Brilla.

Love and Logic at Home

“Love and Logic works well,” Mrs. Moina spoke with certainty. Mrs. Moina said that she adopted Love and Logic at home because of the positive impact she noticed it had, most noticeably, on her eldest son. Mrs. Moina explained that Love and Logic encourages clear communication as a form of sustainable discipline. Instead of the standard “quick fix” approach to disciplining, adults are invited to invest in building a relationship of trust and respect, as well as teaching children to think through their choices and their respective consequences.

The Moina family posing with Mr. Yatabarry and Mr. Shu.

Mrs. Moina acknowledges that Love and Logic works best when it is practiced well and consistently, and even more so when parents use it at home. She personally feels that she has benefited from Love and Logic because of the very apparent way in which it has improved her relationship with her sons. She humbly admitted that prior to learning about Love and Logic, she used to use the “quick fix” approach, which though she did not realize it at the time, was not effective at teaching her son how to make better choices.

The Most Important Thing to Know About Brilla

Mrs. Moina believes that the most important thing to know about Brilla is that each classroom has two qualified, full-time teachers. Most schools have a head teacher and an assistant; but Brilla has an amazing co-teacher model. If given an opportunity to choose all over again, Mrs. Moina says firmly that she would pick Brilla.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, but Brilla offers more than a village. Since its founding, Brilla has strived to build a family. Mrs. Moina is impressed that all of the Brilla staff members know her children by name. It definitely feels like a family.

Shout Out

Mrs. Moina would like to give a shout out to all of the teachers, lunch-time monitors, and custodial staff. “They serve with joy and purpose,” she said, “and if you’ve had a bad day one of them will be sure to make your day better.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ISABEL PEÑAFIEL

Isabel is the Special Projects Manager for Brilla Schools Network in the South Bronx. She assists the Executive Director in establishing systems and processes for Brilla’s external communications and fundraising platforms, among other things. Isabel has a Master of Arts in Integral Economic Development Policy from the Catholic University of America, and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is happily married and hopes to start a family of her own very soon.

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