Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thank You, Prof. Escalante...

Professor Escalante,
So many lives have changed course because of your influence and inspiration. You gave me reason to continue teaching when I was questioning my life's choices. You so affected a great actor like Edward James Olmos that he wanted to be there for you over two decades after the movie was released.

You showed all of us the difference one person can make -- when that person is a teacher who would not compromise his standards, who believed in the inherent potential of each of his students and whose dedication knew no bounds. You waged war against ignorance, racism and mediocrity.

I am retired now and I still well up when I see the movie that, for me, will remain timeless.  As exceptional as the acting performances were, I came to believe that this was art imitating life -- that the real person behind the stage was even more remarkable than even Mr. Olmos' brilliant portrayal. As I replayed that movie year after year following the AP Exam, I sensed that each new group of students were also watching my reaction. I would interject personal comments throughout and they must have realized that this was far more than a movie to me. They must have known that I responded to certain scenes on a very personal level.

I knew from the first viewing that the movie was not only about the "greatest teacher in America", but was also the quintessential story of the life of every dedicated member of our profession. Thank you for validating all of our efforts.

Just as in the classroom, you were surrounded in the end by those who loved you. I wish to express my deepest condolences to your wife, children, grandchildren and your extended family. I am also deeply touched by Mr. Olmos' tireless efforts to making your last few months more bearable, although it saddens me that lack of funds made it difficult for you to obtain all the care you needed.

If it is not too presumptuous, may I speak for all those of our profession who feel indebted to you. May we now Stand in your honor and Deliver you to eternity...


"When the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, the world will know peace..."

"All Truth passes through Three Stages: First, it is Ridiculed...
Second, it is Violently Opposed...
Third, it is Accepted as being Self-Evident."
- Arthur Schopenhauer (1778-1860)

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