The U.S. Postal Service dedicated a Limited Edition Forever Stamp to Jaime Escalante, the East Los Angeles high school math teacher immortalized in the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver," in a ceremony Wednesday.
Escalante's son, and actor Edward James Olmos, were among those who spoke at the ceremony at a Washington hotel.
The stamp features Escalante in his signature wide glasses flat cap and tinted glasses in front of a chalkboard filled with calculus problems. Artists Jason Seiler and Greg Breeding modeled the design after a 2005 photograph, which they digitally recreated to resemble an oil painting.
Escalante rose to fame after introducing the first AP calculus class to Garfield High School, an inner-city school in Los Angeles, and inspiring his students to perform unexpectedly well on the AP tests. He was portrayed by Olmos, who received an Academy Awards nomination for best actor.
"As a teacher he proved time and time again that with the right inputs into the right formulas conventional wisdom could be defied," said dedicating official Robert Cintron before the unveiling of the stamp. "He proved it as a teacher in Bolivia and replicated it when he moved to the United States and used nontraditional methods to teach mostly low income Mexican-American students."
Several guests spoke on the importance of teachers.
"I don't know one president, I don't know one pope, I don't know one engineer, I don't know one sports giant, I don't know one astronaut that could've done it without a teacher," Olmos said.
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Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said, "It was teachers, who believed in me the way Jaime Escalante believed in his students, that are the reason I'm alive today. They could've looked at me and said, 'here's an African-American Latino male student, family in crisis, going to New York City public schools. What chance does he have?' But they didn't. They believed in me."
Escalante's son, also named Jaime Escalante, said, "He became so good at what he enjoyed doing the most, teaching, because his passion never left him. My father made a difference in the lives of his students. Honoring my father with this prestigious recognition is righteously justified because of what my father was able to accomplish in his lifetime. On the behalf of the Escalante family it is an honor to receive with humbleness this most unique historical recognition which pays to tribute to my late father."