Three inspirational movies to watch now

Each of these films, based on real-life events, tells a tale of triumph that will have you believing anything’s possible, and that one person really can make a difference in the lives of others.

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1. Stand and Deliver

Released in 1988

- Starring Edward James Olmos and Lou Diamond Phillips

Tells the story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante and the students in his class at James A. Garfield High School in East L.A. When Mr. Escalante takes the job at the school, he realizes it's in a state of disarray, but is determined to get his students engaged in their studies. After the class gets used to his strict policies and quirky personality, they excel. That's when Mr. Escalante decides his students are capable of conquering advanced placement calculus.


- School officials don’t think the students can handle advanced math. They say the students aren’t capable and that what self-confidence they do have will be crushed when they don’t succeed.

- Some of the students' parents don't view academic success as a priority.


Mr. Escalante teaches the students despite the objections of the higher-ups. They all work tirelessly to prepare for the AP calculus exam, which would earn the students college credit for the course. They come to class early, stay late, and even go to class in the summer to be able to pass the exam. When the 18 students in the course finally take the test, they all pass, some with perfect scores.

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2. Spare Parts

- Released in 2015

- Starring George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Carlos PenaVega and Marisa Tomei

Tells the story of substitute teacher Mr. Cameron and his students at Carl Hayden High School. Mr. Cameron, who is a trained engineer, ends up guiding a team of four students in building a robot for the UCSB robotics competition.


- Limited funds to build the robot

- Problems at home

- Having to worry about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), as some of the students are undocumented immigrants


At the competition, the team decides to sign up for the college division, even though they’re only in high school. After the students complete the main part of the competition, maneuvering the robot through an underwater obstacle course with several tasks designed to test the robot’s capabilities, as well as the oral questioning portion, they beat all the colleges, including MIT, and are announced the winners of the competition.

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3. McFarland, USA

- Released in 2015

- Starring Kevin Costner

Jim White moves his family to a new town to start his job at the high School in McFarland, California. While coaching football, Mr. White discovers some of the students are impeccable runners after seeing how they run to and from school. So, he decides to start up a cross country team.


- Not placing well in meets

- Lack of resources


Once the students get together to form a team, they begin to train rigorously, using whatever is available to simulate different terrain, for example, large piles of nuts picked from the farms the boys on the team work on. After their long hours of training and some disappointments, the boys achieve their goal of becoming state champions.

This content is from MBRACE, an experimental publication created as part of an immersive learning class at Ball State. If you have questions, comments or like what you see, follow mbrace_bsu on Instagram.


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