Jamie Escalante was born in LaPaz, Bolivia and emigrated to the United States in 1964.
After teaching mathematics in Bolivia, he studied at the University of Puerto Rico and arrived in Los Angeles unable to speak English. After learning the language and earning his teaching credentials, Escalante began teaching math in an inner-city high school in East Los Angeles. He defied the low expectations of his principals and colleagues, successfully teaching advanced placement alegbra to students with no record of classroom interest or academic success.
In 1979, Escalante began teaching calculus, challenging his students with an advanced placement course. In 1982, 14 of his students passed the rigorous AP exam, and Escalante's career became the subject of a popular film, "Stand And Deliver." His story also became the topic of a 1988 book, a biography titled "Escalante: The Best Teacher in America."