Press Release for Friday, September 13, 2002

Escalante to deliver keynote address

JACKSONVILLE -- Jaime Escalante, a Los Angeles high school teacher whose success in teaching calculus to inner-city students inspired a book and a movie, will be on the University of North Florida campus next month to deliver the keynote address culminating UNF’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Escalante will speak on Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the UNF University Center off Kernan Boulevard. The event is free but tickets are required. They can be obtained by calling the UNF Ticket Box Office at 620-2878.

Escalante’s story was immortalized in the book Escalante: The Best Teacher in America and in the subsequent movie Stand and Deliver. In 1999, he was officially inducted into the Teachers Hall of Fame. Escalante spent 11 years as a math and physics teacher in Bolivia before emigrating to the U.S in 1964. Unable to speak the language, he had to settle for mopping floors, It was only after teaching himself English that he received his AA degree in electronics and worked with Burroughs Corporation. He took a considerable cut in pay to become a math teacher in 1974 at the run-down Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.

Plagued by poor funding and constant violence, he taught a student population of underprivileged Hispanics. With his unorthodox teaching methods, Escalante was able to lift his students to the top ranks in national calculus testing. Suspecting cheating, officials made the students retake the test. On the second test, the students surpassed everybody’s expectations.
Escalante’s talk is titled “Educating in a Multicultural Environment.” A question and answer session will follow his speech.

The event is sponsored by Bell South and culminates a week-long series of events celebrating UNF’s 30th anniversary. The celebration will kickoff on Oct. 2, Founders Day, the exact date UNF opened its doors 30 years ago. Featured speaker for the kickoff activities will be Dr. Thomas Carpenter, the first president of UNF. A complete schedule of anniversary events will be announced in the near future.

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Digital photo of Escalante is available on request