It is with regret that I report about Jaime Escalante’s passing today. He was 79. He lived his life inspiring all types of people within the education system, but with little money left to treat his terminal bladder cancer. I am amongst that number of people who he inspired through the seminal work about his work, Stand and Deliver. Certainly, I don’t base my knowledge entire on a movie starring one of my favorite actors ever (Edward James Olmos), but there’s lots to be said about the effect he had on the many of us who even caught a glimpse of his life through this movie.
Before watching the movie, I never fathomed working for others as a lifetime profession. While it still didn’t hit me that teaching was my calling (and my future profession), knowing about Jaime Escalante planted the seed that would sprout into the man I am today. He wasn’t just a model of excellent teaching, but also an integral member of an intricate system of people who sought to raise the standards for all students, one kid at a time. Changes like the ones he helped make at his school don’t come with a wave of a hand, but the work of a hammer.
Finally, let us not simply think of him in terms of his work or the movie inspired by him, but for his family and friends, who probably miss him as a man. Like many educators, general society often forgets that they actually have blood-related families as well as the ones in the classroom. As we do more research on his man of intellectual greatness, we should do more to think about ourselves and excelling in our own professions.
Salud, Sr. Escalante.
Jose, who needs to remember calculus all over again …