School children in Lillian LaSalle's MY NAME IS PEDRO 
(Photo Credit: Sweet 180)

Director: Lillian La Salle
Genre:  Documentary
Stars 4.5
Runtime: 1 hour 27 minutes
Language: English

The Value of Meeting Students Where They Are

Lillian LaSalle’s directorial debut, MY NAME IS PEDRO, a compelling story of a truly dedicated educator, Pedro Santana, who’s commitment to students helps them defies all odds as he turns them and their underperforming schools around.

As a young boy, Pedro was labeled a special-ed student. Eventually, he had a teacher who appreciated how hard he worked academically and saw his promise. She recognized the challenges he faced with the traditional learning style and met him where he was and encouraged him to use an out the box approach that gave him an opportunity to achieve academically. He went on to obtain a master’s degree from Teachers College at Columbia University.

(L-R) Students and Pedro Santana in Lillian LaSalle's MY NAME IS PEDRO 
(Photo Credit: Sweet 180)

Taking the lessons he learned as a special-ed student, he applied them in his work as a teacher with astonishing results and turned the school around and put on a positive track.  He met his students at the South Bronx School MS 391, where they are and taught them from that point.

Pedro saw himself in his student. After hearing his sisters talk about how difficult he was to live with as a child, it became evident when a black female student spoke on his behalf at a suburban School Board meeting, and spoke about how loud, unruly and out of control they were before he came to their school and how he was able to make positive changes in their life.

Eventually becoming a household name, he was recruited to become When you compare the students’ academic success to before and after the arrival of Pedro, as Assistant Superintendent,  the South Bronx school MS 391,that his approach to education and interacting with not just the students, but their family too, was a far superior way of reaching and educating inner city students.


(L-R) Pedro Santana in Lillian LaSalle's MY NAME IS PEDRO 
(Photo Credit: Sweet 180)

There are thousands of students who fall through the cracks because of educator, like those on the School Board, who opposed Pedro and seemed to want all student to be taught inside the box of standard of education and the one size fits all approach.

The dynamics between Pedro and his son Hudson, reached a point that seemed insurmountable, yet the love and commitment Pedro had for Hudson, allowed him to overlook the false allegations, meet him where he was and responded with love not hate.

Keeping Pedro Santana’s legacy and his unique take on educational instructions   alive and not writing kids off and make a commitment to uplifting them and their families is vitally important.

Runtime: 1 hour 27 minutes
Distributor: Sweet 180
Initial release: 2017
Executive Producer: Mike Fowler
Producers: Lillian LaSalle, Jonathan Clasberry
Co-producers: Monica Cohen, Marc Demolar
Production Co: Sweet 180
Cast: Pedro Santana
Director: Lillian LaSalle
Editors: Mary Manhardt, Mark Demolar
Composer: Nix Nought Nothing
Animator: Anthony Barkworth-Knight