MY NAME IS PEDRO – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Everyone has that one teacher that made such a huge difference in their school lives. This documentary is about one special teacher, Pedro Santana. First time director Lillian LaSalle’s award-winning, powerful, and intimate documentary My Name Is Pedro, explores what public education meant to the South Bronx Latino maverick educator. But more importantly, what Santana meant to public education.
Infectious in his optimism, Santana became one of the most influential public-school teachers and then administrators in the New York public school system. He started by turning his troubled Bronx middle school, MS 391, around. His philosophy was you change the atmosphere; you change the child. He is unapologetic in his commitment to creating change for kids, no matter the odds. His life’s belief that ‘every kid can learn’, (he himself was labeled ‘special ed’ as a child), is laid bare in this film. It’s inspiring to watch the pure love and respect that Santana gives and gets in return from his students and fellow teachers. Even the teacher he credits as the one who inspired and saved him as a child in elementary school grades 3-6th, Yvonne Torres remembers how she loved young Pedro. He was in her first class after graduation as a teacher. The time and attention she poured into him would shape him and reach thousands of other people through him. Proving once again that teachers play a vital role in our world.
When a glowing front-page New York Times article catapults him into the spotlight, he is recruited and then accepts a promotion. They want him to use his famed ‘out of the box’ and transformative practices to save a corrupt and divided suburban school district. But the political challenges there may simply be too great, even for the infallible Santana.
My Name Is Pedro is a profound movie of how one person actualizes learning. Creating positive change in children, adults, environments, and communities through an ‘impact’ ripple effect strategy that he has perfected. The film is also an essential and timely reminder of the importance of great educators that exist within the infrastructure of our country’s troubled public education system.
I give My Name Is Pedro a 4.5-star rating because it gets under your skin as it shows this unstoppable force of a man who greets every person with a hug. You can’t help but fall in love with the guy as you’re moved by his story. Go to their website link and find out when it is playing at a theater near you or just buy it when it’s available on demand.
Directed by: Lillian LaSalle
Selig Rating 4.5 Stars
Running Time: 127min
Rolling Release: Virtual Theaters starting October
Movie Site: https://www.mynameispedro.com
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.