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Jaime Escalante
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Mathematician
    (December 31, 1930-March 30, 2010)
    Born in La Paz, Bolivia
    Mathematician and calculus professor who taught at Garfield High School (1974-1991)
    Famously portrayed by Edward James Olmos in 'Stand and Deliver (1988)'
    Initially upon moving from Puerto Rico to California, he could not speak English, which was vital for teaching in American schools.
    He also had no valid teaching credentials at the time.
    When Escalante began his tenure at Garfield High, he initially was so disappointed by the student's lack of preparation that he almost thought of going back to his old job.
    The school's accreditation was almost lost because of his refusal to teach classes designed for poor performance students.
    He pointed out several flaws in the biographical film 'Stand and Deliver,' such as the fact that he suffered a gall bladder attack rather than cardiac arrest as depicted in the film.
    Despite helping students succeed, he was eventually released from his job due to the corrupt California public school system.
    At the time of his death, he was reportedly said to be very poor and had difficulty paying for his cancer treatment.
    He refused to rank students highest to lowest based on their performance and said that anyone has the potential to succeed.
    In his first AP Calculus class he taught, two students passed the exam.
    That number would exponentially increase in the ensuing years he taught AP Calculus.
    As a result, his class size increased as well.
    For his endeavors in the field of education, he was awarded the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education by Ronald Reagan in 1988.
    Olmos earned an Oscar nomination in 1989 for his portrayal of the legendary math teacher.
    'Stand and Deliver' was ranked as number 86 on AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies.
    In summary, he was an ordinary man who broke the status quo and made a difference.

Credit: Birdienest81


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