A Guidance Counselor’s Perspective on Ghetto Talks

On Saturday, April 17, the Ghetto Talks production crew filmed the final segment for our Educator Response Piece.  Guidance Counselor Johnny Ventura from Mott Haven Prep Academy in the Bronx sat down with us for an exclusive interview.  Mr. Ventura shared some moving stories about his childhood to which many people can relate.


From standing in a cheese line to seeing many of his friends fail, Mr. Ventura has been through life-changing experiences that made him who he is today.  He said that working with children in New York City is his passion because many of his students come from a similar upbringing.  Several of our crewmembers said afterwards that they felt a personal connection with him.


Mr. Ventura was incredibly candid about his past and present.  He talked about being ashamed of where you come from.  For example, he once had a friend who saw him waiting on the cheese line and decided to make him the subject of a joke about social standing.  Ironically, the kid was from the same neighborhood as Mr. Ventura.


As far as content goes, having Mr. Ventura in for an interview was a step in the right direction for the Ghetto Talks Response Project.  His views helped flush out our Educator Response Piece: now we can say that the piece integrates insights from across a spectrum of educators–from the school leadership level to the classroom/curriculum level to the student/family level.  In general, we have found that educators’ personal backgrounds shape their views on the word ghetto but that their day-to-day interactions with students give them a more contemporary understanding of how the word’s use and meaning have changed.


What a great interview! Mr. Ventura even performed a verse that he wrote about his life. He is a talented lyricist whose poetry is honest and insightful.  We thank him for sharing his stories and art with us!


Now on to the editing process. . . . More to come from the Media Lab editing room!