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NYC Public School Principal: The Aura Rivera Story (DVD Reviews)

28 Jul, 2009 By: Angelique Flores


Prebook 7/28/09; Street 8/25/09
Drummond & Smith
$19.99 DVD
Not rated.

This documentary on school principal Aura Rivera feels more like a tribute to the retired principal of I.S. 95 in Harlem.

Rivera, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York’s Lower East Side, didn’t learn how to speak English until she started school. A natural teacher, she would play school with her younger siblings. Rivera later earned a full-ride scholarship to attend college and realized her calling to be a teacher.

She rose from teacher to principal, earning the respect of those with whom she worked along the way. She was tough but well-liked.

This documentary interviews Rivera, who talks about her career and her philosophies as a teacher and principal. More interview footage of teachers, colleagues and students give insight into Rivera as well as the staff she built at her school.

This documentary is no Mad Hot Ballroom-type film in which an innovative program was being implemented at a school. It is about a talented, smart woman who did her job well.

Nevertheless, this is an inspirational film, especially for those in the teaching field, and more so for those in less-advantaged schools such as Rivera’s.

Special features include testimonials from students and teachers saying their goodbyes to the retiring principal. In this send-up of Rivera, it would have been nice to see former students and how she affected their lives.

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