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Jaime Escalante

Born in Bolivia in 1930, Jaime Escalante garnered international recognition in 1988, when his story was told in the acclaimed film "Stand and Deliver." The film stars Edward James Olmos as Escalante, a teacher who taught math to troubled students at a tough East Los Angeles school.

Though born in Bolivia, Escalante left his homeland in the 1960s in the hopes of finding a better life in the United States. An educator in Bolivia, Escalante taught himself English on his arrival in the states, working odd jobs along the way as he earned another college degree en route to becoming a teacher in the United States.

By 1974, Escalante had accepted a position at Garfield High School, a school whose reputation, which included a history of drugs and violence, at the time was less than stellar. When he arrived, Escalante encountered students who cared little about their education.

Despite an apathetic group of students and a less than supportive school system that questioned both Escalante's methods and his students' potential, the teacher eventually broke through to his students, making some history along the way.

By 1982, Escalante was teaching a handful of students advanced mathematics. When the students passed an advanced placement test in Calculus, the testing company invalidated some of their scores, professing its belief that the students had cheated. Escalante vehemently protested, accusing the company of questioning the students' scores because they were Hispanic and from a school with a poor reputation. Within months, the students whose scores were questioned took the test again. Most of those students passed once more, proving the company's allegations were false.

Escalante's initial success teaching students A.P. Calculus caught on in the years to come, and his class size continued to increase while more and more students continued to pass.

Though Escalante admitted later the film that made him a household name was dramatized, he did admit it was mostly a true account of his and his students' hard work.

Despite his success, Escalante left Garfield High School in the early 1990s, when many of the problems he encountered when first arriving at the school came to the surface yet again.

In 1999, 11 years after receiving the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education from President Ronald Reagan, Escalante was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

Escalante passed away in 2010 while receiving treatment for bladder cancer.