"Jaime Escalante: Sensational Teacher" by Ann Byers.

Essay by Hornbecke January 2004

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

Downloaded 28 times

Jaime Escalante: Sensational Teacher," by Ann Byers is based on the life story of Jaime Escalante, a new high school teacher in East L.A. in 1982, who decides to change the lives of his students by preparing them for an advanced placement test in calculus. I chose this book because it was a book I read when I was younger and I remember thinking that the teacher did such amazing things with the students. Now that I am about to occupy a similar position, I wanted to revisit the film and evaluate his methods based on what I've learned so far as a teacher and pre-service student. The book deals with the very timely issues of equity, standardized testing, funding shortages and the challenges of the inner city school environment.

When the book opens, the socio-economic and cultural demographic of the area is laid out. Hispanic workers line the roads and although the area seems quite culturally alive - a mural exclaims "We are NOT a minority!"-- it is obviously economically disadvantaged.

On the first day of classes, Mr. Escalante learns that he will be teaching math since the school did not get funding for computers. This crossover theme is carried throughout the movie, as music and phys-ed teachers teach full math timetables, and in many ways qualifies Escalante's success. Though he is not a math teacher by trade, Escalante does something that all the other teacher's couldn't do -- he rises to the occasion. His philosophy is simple: "students will rise to the level of expectations" (Menendez 1988). All he requests from them is desire. Escalante is successful in showing the students that they can get beyond the "barrio" which before they could not see past. He decides that they CAN learn calculus and volunteers to teach...