Jaime Escalante became a well-known man after the 1988 movie, Stand and Deliver, which told the story of Escalante’s creative and passionate teaching career in the barrio of East L.A. One of his most memorable teaching experiences never made it into the script of this popular movie.
At the beginning of a school year, Escalante was stopped by a parent after a PTA meeting. The woman asked how her son, Johnny, was getting along in the classroom. Escalante thought she was the mother of one boy named Johnny in his class who was an excellent and cooperative student, there was another Johnny who spent most of his time goofing off and disrupting the class. Assuming that her son was the better student, Escalante said, “I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your son. I’m so glad he’s in my class.”
The next day the problem “Johnny” approached Escalante and said, “My mom told me what you said about me last night. I haven’t ever had a teacher who wanted me in his class.” The boy made a complete turn around. Within a few weeks he was one of Escalante’s hardest-working students and a joy to teach. There are many people who are much like this Johnny. Their frustrating behavior could be changed by the knowledge that somebody wants them around.