A teacher with an inspirational, cajoling attitude that could transform young, troubled students into achieving their potential. His work in a notorious barrios of Los Angeles was portrayed dramatically in the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver.
He was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1930 and emigrated to the United States in the 1960s where he began teaching math in a high school in East Los Angeles. His incredible success teaching advanced mathematics to gang members and other students who had been dismissed as "unteachable" gained him national attention.
His unique teaching style was based on his experience working with a wide range of student abilities and backgrounds, which helped him to develop the techniques that enabled him to inspire his students. He emphasized that they could achieve their potential if they were willing to work hard.
In the film he does not accept poor behaviour from his students and is not afraid to discipline them when necessary, however his method of teaching is far from conventional, with one of his students Angel Guzman stepping out of class because he thinks that escalante is being harsh.
The movie also questions the commonly held notion that a person's natural abilities will determine their success. According to a journalist and former Olympic Table Tennis player, Matthew Sayed, people who are considered talented often owe more to their hours of practice under great coaches than their innate talents.
In addition, Psychologist Carol Dweck believes that a student's mindset needs to be open instead of fixed to enable them to achieve their true potential. The film also makes a strong point that the best way to teach is to set high expectations for your students and then help them to reach them.