News, notes and follow-ups

Category: Education

One year ago: Stanley Kaplan

Kaplan Test takers, unite in saluting Stanley Kaplan. Yes, he's a real person, not just a name on a test-prep school marquee.

Kaplan, who died one year ago at age 90, started a tutoring business at his family's home in Brooklyn in 1938. He helped his first anxious student prepare for what was then called the Scholastic Aptitude test in 1946. By 1984 he led a national chain of more than 100 locations.

Said Kaplan of his efforts to help students raise the test scores that could help them get into the college of their choice: "In America there's nothing wrong with competition. There's nothing wrong with trying to do the best you can. And that's what I try to help students do."

Read more of the Stanley Kaplan obituary that appeared in The Times.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Stanley Kaplan. Credit: Kaplan Inc.

One year ago: Father Eleutherius Winance

WinnaceFather Eleutherius Winance was well known among Catholics for founding the St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo and for his longtime job as a philosophy professor at Claremont Graduate University. His dramatic life in China before his Southland days, however, is less known.

Winance, who died one year ago, entered the monastery of St. Andre in his native Belgium when he was 17. In 1936, the year after he was ordained a priest, he was sent to China, where two of his fellow priests had established a monastery in Sichuan province. He later established the Institute of Chinese and Western Cultural Studies in Chengdu.

Governmental upheavals in the 1930s and '40s, however, put his ministry in turmoil. During Mao Tse-tung's communist revolution, his institute was closed down and he and his monk companions were captured and subjected to brutal Marxist indoctrination, an experience he later wrote about in "The Communist Persuasion, A Personal Experience of Brainwashing" (1958). Despite the efforts of his captors, he told The Times in 1963 that he "refused to budge."

Eventually his group was kicked out of the country, and after an arduous trip that he described as hell-like, he ended up in Hong Kong. His abbot then sent Winance to Rome to teach philosophy at Sant' Anselmo.

After teaching in Rome for four years, he came to the United States, where in 1961 he joined eight of his brethren from China at St. Andrew's Priory, which was upgraded to an abbey in 1992.

He was known to be very diligent in his work, rising before dawn for prayer and spending hours reading scripture in Greek or Latin and texts on philosophy and mathematics in French.

"I think it would be fair to say that he would have wanted to be known as a good, faithful and obedient monk," said Father Damien Toilolo, a former administrator of St. Andrew's.

For more, read Father Eleutherius Winance's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Father Eleutherius Winance. Credit: John Lewis Photography

One year ago: Betty Allen

Betty Allen Betty Allen sang "with a glory of sound that would honor any performance," Washington Post critic Paul Hume once wrote. Allen, one of the first African American opera singers to reach international prominence, died a year ago. She was 82.

Allen was a mezzo-soprano -- her voice was lower than that of a soprano -- so she didn't get the glamorous female roles that tend to go to sopranos.  Mezzos are often cast in evil or brooding parts. She said Azucena, the raving gypsy in Giuseppe Verdi's "Il Trovatore," was her favorite role because "she's absolutely nuts."

Allen also was a distinguished teacher. She was the executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts and taught at the Manhattan School of Music, among other places.

Read more in the complete obituary for Betty Allen in the Los Angeles Times on July 27, 2009.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Betty Allen

John Delloro, labor leader and teacher, dies at 38

John Delloro, national president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, executive director of the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and a UCLA instructor, has died. He was 38.

Delloro died June 5 of a heart attack, said his wife, Susan A. Suh.

Delloro was elected last year as national president of the Asian Pacific labor group. It is the only national organization for Asian Pacific American union members, said Kent Wong, director of UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the group’s founding president.

The Dolores Huerta institute, named after the United Farm Workers co-founder, works to expand labor studies in the Los Angeles Community College District. Delloro had been executive director since 2006.

Winfred John Delloro was born Aug. 29, 1971, in Port Reading, N.J. His family moved to California in 1984, and he graduated from Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills in 1989. Delloro graduated from College of the Canyons in 1991. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a specialization in Asian American studies in 1994 and a master’s in Asian American studies in 1996, both from UCLA.

"John was a brilliant student while at UCLA. He had the option of pursuing many career paths," Wong said. "But he was dedicated to improving the lives of working people."

Delloro, who taught Asian American studies at UCLA, also taught at Los Angeles Trade Technical College’s Labor Center.

In addition to his wife, Delloro is survived by his children, Mina and Malcolm; his parents, Celinia and Winfred Delloro, and a brother, Alvin.

Services have been held, but there will be a public memorial from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the East Los Angeles College auditorium, Wong said. The college is at 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez in Monterey Park.

-- Keith Thursby



Memorial set for youth theater founder Jack Nakano

A memorial celebration of the life and work of Jack Nakano, who launched a number of nonprofit theater arts programs for young people over the decades, will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd.

Nakano, who died of heart failure in 2009 at age 75, was a performing arts teacher at La Cumbre Junior High School in Santa Barbara in 1962 when he joined other local drama teachers to create the summer theater program that became the long-running Youth Theatre Productions in Santa Barbara.

He later taught theater arts at Santa Barbara High School. And in the early '80s, while chairing the drama department and teaching theater at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica, he focused on his second nonprofit theater arts program for young people: California Youth Theatre.

Nakano left California Youth Theatre in 2004, and it closed two years later. In 2006, he launched YouTHeatre-America!, a nonprofit national theater arts program for young people.

During his long career working with young people, Nakano touched the lives of performers such as Jack Black, America Ferrera, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Randolph Mantooth, and Timothy, Joseph, Samuel and Benjamin Bottoms.

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Jack Nakano in 2006. Credit: Gilbert A. Smith


Dr. John Peters, USC professor who led health study of Southern California children, dies at 75

PetersDr. John M. Peters, longtime professor at USC's Keck School of Medicine and the principal investigator of a study that examined the health of Southern California children, died Thursday at his home in San Marino of pancreatic cancer, the university announced. He was 75.

Peters was Hastings professor and director of the Division of Environmental Health in the school's Department of Preventive Medicine.

He was born April 24, 1935, in Brigham City, Utah, and received his bachelor's in biology in 1957 and his medical degree in 1960 from the University of Utah. After a surgical residency at Johns Hopkins University and two years in the Army, he earned master of public health and doctor of science degrees from Harvard. He taught at Harvard until 1980, when he came to USC.

Since 1992, the Children's Health Study followed 11,000 children in Southern California, taking a critical look at the ongoing risks of air pollution.

Peters established national research centers at USC on environmental health sciences and children's environmental health. He published more than 150 research papers during his career.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Dr. John M. Peters

Jaime Escalante: April 16-17 tribute planned in East Los Angeles

Escalante A public memorial for Jaime Escalante, the celebrated Garfield High School calculus teacher who died March 30 of cancer, will be held April 16-17 in East Los Angeles. 

According to Edward James Olmos, the actor who portrayed Escalante in the movie "Stand and Deliver,"  visitation will begin at 2 p.m. on April 16, at Garfield High School -- in the master teacher's former classroom, which Olmos said will be "reconstituted" to appear as it was during Escalante's tenure in the 1980s.

On April 17 at 9 a.m., mourners on foot will accompany Escalante's casket along Atlantic Boulevard from Garfield to the stadium at East Los Angeles College, where a funeral service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

The stadium holds 22,000 and Olmos says, "I pray we have no seats left. I pray the streets will be jampacked with people saying 'Thank you very much, Jaime.' That's what he deserves. That's what all teachers deserve for their contributions to people's lives. If there was ever a time to say thank you to the teachers of the world, this is it."

Olmos said Escalante's last words to him were that he regretted leaving East L.A. to teach in Sacramento in 1991. "So we're taking him back there," Olmos, who is planning the tribute with Escalante's family, said by phone Thursday.

Escalante's final resting place will be in Los Angeles County, not in his native Bolivia, but the burial will be private.

Arrangements are being handled by Risher Mortuary of Montebello. For details on the service and to leave online condolences for the family, go to

-- Elaine Woo

Photo: Jaime Escalante in his Garfield classroom in 1988. Credit: Associated Press

Jaime Escalante scholarship fund

A scholarship fund to honor the achievements of Jaime Escalante, the masterful calculus teacher who led underprivileged students to pass the Advanced Placement exam, has been established at Garfield High School in East L.A., where he taught from 1974 to 1991.

Contributions may be sent to Garfield High School Scholarship Fund -- Jaime Escalante, 5101 E. 6th St., Los Angeles CA 90022. Escalante, 79, died Tuesday of bladder cancer at his son's home near Sacramento.

Garfield High plans tribute to Jaime Escalante

Garfield High will pay tribute to prominent former math teacher Jaime Escalante early Thursday morning at the East L.A. campus with a gathering of the school's ROTC, leadership students, band and drill team, administrators, staff and current and former students.

The school's memorial service is planned for 7:00 to 7:20 a.m. at 5101 E. 6th St.

Escalante, 79, died Tuesday at his son Jaime Jr.'s home in Roseville, Calif. Click here to read The Times' obituary that appeared in Wednesday's paper. More coverage is here.

-- Claire Noland

Jaime Escalante and great teachers: born or made?

Getprev The death this week of Jaime Escalante stirred memories of my first encounter with the famous teacher in 1988, when I was covering education for The Times. The issue of teacher quality was much in the news then, and I thought it would be interesting to examine the question of what separates the virtuoso from the average teacher.

So, of course, one of my first stops was Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, where Escalante had gained national acclaim for making calculus appealing to low-income Latino students and coaching them to unprecedented success on the rigorous Advanced Placement exam. His story was spread around the world in the 1988 movie "Stand and Deliver," which starred Edward James Olmos as Escalante. (You can read about his career and the scandal that pushed him into the national spotlight in Wednesday's obituary.

I found Escalante behind a cluttered desk in a small office that adjoined his classroom. He was far from glamorous, dressed in a well-worn sweater and dark pants; his beret was the sole touch of style. The phone rang constantly, and students darted in and out, calling him by the nickname “Kimo,” as he shuffled through the papers on his desk that included a stack of phone messages a couple of inches thick. He seemed quite distracted, and I worried that I might never get my interview.

Then the bell rang, and the master was on. He had his shtick, which included an actual bag of tricks, out of which he pulled a variety of objects. Some served purely comic purposes, such as a series of funny hats, while others had more academic applications, such as a stick with a retracting string that he used to illustrate the mathematical concept of slope.

Yes, he was corny, but his approach was laced with such affection for his students that they forgave him. More important, they listened. And when they listened, they discovered that this short, balding Bolivian immigrant possessed a deep understanding of his subject, an essential element of great teaching. The funny hats hooked them, and his ability to explain the most abstract ideas in math kept them in thrall. For many students, the success they experienced in his classroom gave them the confidence to conquer an often hostile outside world.

Angel Navarro, a Los Angeles attorney who was one of those students, wrote to me Wednesday. He said, “Mr. Escalante was my AP Calculus teacher … and to this day he remains the single most influential person in my life. What I learned during the 10 months in his classroom 28 years ago continues to be the basis of everything that I do. Although he is gone, he lives through me and countless other ‘burros’ on a daily basis.”

Another former student recalled, “I was one of his Calculus students in my senior year in 1991. I remember how he caught me in class one day imitating him. I thought I was in for it. Instead, he made me do his impressions again and said, ‘Not bad, but you could do better.’ He was always pushing you to improve. He will be missed.”

My Escalante was a journalism teacher at Alhambra High School named Ted Tajima, who believed in me (Thanks, Mr. T!) and over the decades inspired hundreds of students with his reverence for the facts and insistence on simple, clear language. He was passionate as well as compassionate, a trait that may have come in part from his experience as a Japanese American interned during World War II.

Did you have a teacher who made a subject come alive for you? Do you think the qualities that make a teacher great are inherent, or can they be learned? I hope you’ll share your thoughts below.

-- Elaine Woo

Photo: Jaime Escalante in 1998. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

History's view of Howard Zinn

Zinn The L.A. Times' Marjorie Miller talked with several historians about the significance of the legacy of Howard Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States," who died Jan. 27.

"What he did was take all of the guys in white hats and put them in black hats, and vice versa," said Sean Wilentz of Princeton University, who wrote "The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008."

You can find Miller's piece here and the news obituary on Zinn here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Howard Zinn in 2008. Credit: Associated Press

Feb. 6 memorial planned for longtime USC professor Herb Farmer

A memorial service for longtime USC professor Herb Farmer will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Norris Theater on campus. A reception will follow.

Farmer, whose USC career included filming football games from the roof of the Coliseum press box and overseeing the school's film archives, died Nov. 22 at 89.

A fund has been set up to support the USC archives. Contributions can be sent to the Bea and Herbert E. Farmer Endowed Fund, School of Cinematic Arts, University Park, SCA 465, Los Angeles, 90089-2211.

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Herb Farmer preparing to film a USC football game in 1942. Credit: USC School of Cinematic Arts


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