"Stand and Deliver," one of the hottest movies of recent months, is the true story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher at East Los Angeles' Garfield High School. Escalante, through a variety of teaching methods, molds a group of would-be dropouts into achieving students. In the process, he instills them with self-pride and a desire to learn.
Everyone has his or her favorite high school teacher. Maybe it was the algebra teacher who taught you not to be afraid of numbers, the English teacher who gave you a sympathetic ear when you needed to be heard, or the biology teacher who let you escape to the library when the rest of the class had to dissect frogs.
Here are some responses to this week's hot topic: "What qualities make your favorite teacher so special?"
"Qualities I admire in my favorite teacher (Bill Bowen) are his sternness and poise, his clear and well-researched way of teaching, and his consistency in enforcing the rules."
--Pam Carrick, 17, sophomore, Bethel Baptist
"He (Jim Wheeler, Heritage Christian) has control of the class, likes to have fun, is a friend and has a Christian influence on me."
--Becky Williams, 15, sophomore, Bethel Baptist
"My favorite teacher (Dave Mitchell) shows his students how much he cares by making sure everybody understands what he's teaching. He's not only a serious teacher but also has a good sense of humor."
--Valerie Damato, 14, sophomore, Bethel Baptist
"My favorite teacher, Mr. (James) Hilleary, is special because he is different, and he enjoys what he teaches."
--Todd Flora, 17, junior, Brea-Olinda
"The best quality a teacher can have is to be personable with the students, and Mr. (Robert) Patterson exemplifies this."
--Laura Christofferson, 16, junior, Brea-Olinda
"My favorite teachers don't yell a lot."
--Lance Christofferson, 15, freshman, Brea-Olinda
"If the teacher is humorous and really understanding, and if he explains something difficult well."
--Jenny Aengst, 14 freshman, Corona del Mar
"They really want to teach and really want us to learn. They care about the subject they teach. They're understanding."
--Jenny Custer, 16, sophomore, Corona del Mar
"Mrs. (Miriam) Thompson is my favorite teacher because she's challenging. She covers material in a clear and concise manner, and she's totally objective in her grading, as opposed to other teachers who treat us like children."
--Morgan Evans, 16, junior, Corona del Mar
"A passion for what they do, an extreme loyalty and devotion to the people they teach and an unending desire to see people achieve."
--Bill Temple, 18, senior, Corona del Mar
"I think it's a feeling that when I ask a question, there will be no doubt he'll have an instantaneous answer. It's just a question of how long it takes to explain it."
--Vince Matteucci, 18, senior, Corona del Mar
"Ed Lessard is a very caring individual who will go beyond the call of duty every single time. He loves life and lives each day to the absolute fullest and always has a smile for you."
--Jennifer Kolsky, 17, senior, Cypress
"Don Beard is caring and understanding. He teaches you a lot, but he's a humorist."
--Sandy Buckner, 17, senior, Cypress
"Donald Orr is the man . He makes the class interesting. He knows what's up. He is the coolest man on this campus."
--Perry Gallagher, 17, and Doug Moore, 17, seniors, Cypress
"Intelligent, caring, funny, understanding--the ability to make learning fun."
--Caine Moss, 17, junior, Dana Hills
"His (Kurt Speidel's) willingness to help and listen, humor, and his real dedication to teaching students make him special."
--Vicki Kennedy, 17, senior, Dana Hills
"I like a teacher who treats me like I'm special--not just a person in a class."
--Kathy Kim, 16, sophomore, El Toro
"Making students want to learn, not forcing them."
--Ken Coleman, 17, senior, El Toro
"A sense of humor is always nice."
--Brad Heller, 17, junior, El Toro
"Making the lectures interesting so that you can get involved."
--Stephen Stentstrom, 16, sophomore, El Toro
"He (Michael Fisher) knows what he's talking about, he's funny, and he lets me call him Fish."
--Greg Amrofell, 15, freshman, Foothill
"I like a teacher who allows me to be myself, like Mr. (George) Korich."
--Ingrid Moon, 17, junior, Foothill
"The appearance that they want to be friends, their outward friendliness, impresses me in a teacher."
--Doug Silver, 17, junior, Foothill
"Because I'm a senior, a lot of my teachers treat me like I'm an adult. That quality tends to make those teachers my favorite because I'm treated with respect."
--Margaret Richardson, 18, senior, Liberty Christian
"My favorite teachers not only help me grow academically but also spiritually."
--Michele Wong, 16, junior, Liberty Christian
"They always make learning enjoyable."
--Craig Wiblemo, 17, senior, Los Alamitos
"They have to know their material and can't be boring."
--Steve Chun, 18, senior, Los Alamitos
"He has to be someone without any hair--like Walt Hauenstein."
--Mike Scott, 17,senior, Los Alamitos