Every year the United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) issues a collection of special stamps with diverse topics that range from soda fountain favorites to pick-up trucks. An educator who taught math is honored in 2016.
Mr. JAIME ESCALANTE (1930-2010) was from Bolivia and taught at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. When he started at Garfield, the school was in danger of losing their accreditation. There were other obstacles Mr. Escalante had to overcome to create a successful math department with his colleagues and administration. He held high expectations for his students who rose to the occasion by excelling in his advanced mathematics courses and on AP calculus exams.
When students said math was too hard Mr. Escalante replied, “Ganas! That’s all you need…ganas.” His students responded by showing they had the gana, or desire, by outperforming students in math from wealthier school districts.
Mr. Escalante was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999. If you saw the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver” you’ll remember how Mr. Escalante inspired inner city youth who were experiencing poverty. Mr. Edward James Olmos portrayed Escalante in the film that earned Olmos an Academy Award nomination for best actor in a leading role that year.
His postage stamp was designed by art director Mr. Greg Breeding and artist Mr. Jason Seiler. This stamp and others can be a fun way to learn about different topics with children. The U.S.P.S., the American Philatelic Society, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum have learning kits that can be used to explore each stamp and topic. You do not have to be a stamp collector to appreciate the special issue stamps.
Escalante’s stamp is a small masterpiece with gigantic respect in honoring the work of teachers. Bravo U.S.P.S., Mr. Escalante, and students!