Directed by Laura Pacheco, Jackie Mow • Documentary • 2016 • 53 minutes
EAST OF SALINAS begins with 3rd grader Jose telling us what he wants to be when he grows up. His parents work from sun up to sun down in the heart of California's 'Steinbeck Country,' the Salinas Valley. With little support available at home, Jose often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, once a migrant farm kid himself. In fourth grade his teacher told him if he worked hard he could have a different life. Oscar won a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. The day he earned his degree, he bought a car and drove home to the fields. He's been teaching ever since.
Jose is Oscar's most gifted student. But how do you teach students like Jose who have no place to do their homework? How do you teach a kid who moves every few months? This is what Oscar is up against every day. Oscar not only teaches his students reading, math and science, he gives them access to a world beyond their reach.