Monday, June 4, 2007

Immigrant of the Day: Jaime Escalante

Escalant Jaime Escalante is a professor and teacher of mathematics who gained renown and distinction for his work at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, California in teaching poor minority students calculus, from 1974 to 1991. Escalante was born in La Paz, Bolivia. While living in Bolivia he taught physics and mathematics for 14 years. In 1964 he decided to move to the United States. To prepare himself he started studying science and mathematics at University of Puerto Rico. Upon moving from Puerto Rico to California Jaime still could not speak English, and had no valid American teaching credentials. He studied at night at Pasadena City College to earn a degree in electronics. At this point he took a day job at a computer corporation, while continuing his schooling at night to earn a mathematics degree at Cal State Los Angelesd. From 1974 until 1991, Escalante taught in the L.A. Unified School System. From 1991 until 1998, he taught algebra and calculus for the Sacramento Unified School District.

In 2001, after many years of preparing teenagers for the AP calculus exam, Escalante returned to his native Bolivia. He lives in his wife’s hometown, Cochabamba, and teaches part time at the local university. He returns to the United States frequently to visit his children.

The 1987 film Stand and Deliver, starring Edward James Olmos, introduced the nation to the dramatic story of Jaime Escalante.


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