(from the Associated Press)
Jaime Escalante transformed a tough East Los Angeles high school by motivating struggling inner-city students to master advanced math, became one of America's most famous teachers and inspired the movie "Stand and Deliver."
He died Tuesday at age 79 after battling cancer for several years, family friend Keith Miller said.
Escalante used his outsized personality to goad his working-class Mexican-American students to succeed, said Elsa Bolado, 45, one of his former pupils.
"Teaching is an art form. There's a lot of practicioners and very few artists. He was a master artist," she said.
An immigrant from Bolivia, he overhauled Garfield High School's math curriculum and pushed his students to do their best until the school had more advanced placement calculus students than all but four other public high schools in the country.
Edward James Olmos played Escalante in the 1988 film based on his story.
"Jaime exposed one of the most dangerous myths of our time — that inner city students can't be expected to perform at the highest levels," Olmos said. "Because of him, that destructive idea has been shattered forever."