Posted by: Audiegrl
Outside James A. Garfield High School, the flag flew at half-staff to mark Escalante’s death. He is widely considered one of America’s most successful teachers.
He taught at Garfield High for 17 years, and by the time he left in 1991, he had elevated the school’s math program to one of the best in the country.
“Whenever I meet people across the nation, they always, ‘Did you know Mr. Escalante? What was it like?'” said Garfield High School Vice Principal Ramiro Robalcaba. “He just inspired students, parents and teachers across the nation.”
Robalcaba graduated from Garfield High School a few years after Escalante left.
Escalante was originally a teacher in Bolivia who immigrated to the U.S. He had to study English at night for years before he could get his California teaching credentials, but when he did, he put them to good use.
“He really put the school on the map. The entire nation knows Garfield High School, and we owe that to him,” Robalcaba said.
Despite a low-income inner-city student body, Escalante produced some of the best math and science students in the country. He was the inspiration for the “Stand and Deliver,” starring Edward James Olmos.
“He was a good teacher. He got all his students to pass that test. Yeah, he was a good teacher here,” said student Cesar Jauregy.
Parent Tony Perez said he still remembered Escalante’s greatness. His son was one of Escalante’s students who now works as a computer engineer for Hewlett-Packard.
“I called him last night, I told him, and he got really sad because it really changed his whole life,” he said.
Garfield administrators said they have grief counselors on hand to meet with faculty members who worked with Escalante.
Administrators are planning a memorial service for Thursday at 7 a.m. Students, teachers and community members are all invited.
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Statement from President Obama on the Passing of Jaime Escalante
“I was saddened to hear about the passing of Jaime Escalante today. While most of us got to know him through the movie that depicted his work teaching inner-city students calculus, the students whose lives he changed remain the true testament to his life’s work. Throughout his career Jaime opened the doors of success and higher education for his students one by one, and proved that where a person came from did not have to determine how far they could go. He instilled knowledge in his students, but more importantly he helped them find the passion and the will to fulfill their potential. Jaime’s story became famous. But he represented countless, valiant teachers throughout our country whose great works are known only to the young people whose lives they change. Michelle and I offer our condolences to Jaime’s family, and to all those who knew him and whose lives he touched.”