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Top 9 Teachers Depicted on Film or Television

Many who have become teachers have done so, at least in part, because they were inspired by a great educator. Those of us lucky enough to have been taught by exceptional teachers recognize the power these role models wield. For decades, stories about inspiring teachers have been calling young minds to the profession. With that in mind, EducationWorld offers this list of the Top 9 Teachers Depicted on Film or Television.

9        Kindergarten Cop’s John Kimble – He ranks lowest because he is not a teacher by trade. But that is also precisely why he makes the list. His prowess in the classroom is impressive and wins the hearts and minds of students and school administrators alike.

For 900 years Yoda has been a teacher of young Jedi.

8        “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s” Ichabod Crane – The spindly pedagogue of Washington Irving’s iconic story was indeed a bit gluttonous. He was also very superstitious. More often than not, he was extremely selfish. When it came to his pupils, however, he wanted nothing more than for them to succeed.

7        “Hanging With Mr. Cooper’s” Mark Cooper – There was always a lesson to be learned during the 30 minutes Mr. Cooper was on television. Whether it was about sportsmanship or working to overcome an academic obstacle, this substitute-turned-full-time teacher brought the best out in his students. He did it with some pretty cool theme music, too.

6        “Glee’s” Will Schuester – Forget about his unabashed love for pop music and his excellent fashion sense. There are few teachers who have to combat someone actively trying to undermine their lessons. Sue Sylvester’s attempts to disrupt practices and performances only serve to highlight Schuester’s acumen as a teacher. He also gets bonus points for making the Glee Club cool.

5        “White Shadow’s” Ken Reeves – “White Shadow” was essentially “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” as a serious drama. Reeves, an ex-NBA player who is forced to leave the game due to injury, takes a job at a high school in South Central Los Angeles. He vows to everyone under his guidance that he will always support them, fight for them and be right behind them, like a white shadow.

4        Rocky’s Mickey Goldmill – This is the teacher everyone should have at least once in his life—the old sage with all the wisdom in the world, who wants nothing more than for his pupils to achieve the greatest success while doing things the right way. It’s no coincidence that Rocky Balboa is defeated after Mickey’s death. Just as it’s no surprise that it’s Mickey’s disembodied voice demanding the fighter get off the mat, because “Mickey loves ya.”

3        Harry Potter’s Severus Snape – For the better part of seven novels and six-and-a-half films, audiences are left guessing at this mysterious teacher’s allegiances. One moment he is taking great care that his young charges master their lessons, and another he appears to be murdering his headmaster. It is only at the conclusion of the final installment that we learn (spoiler alert!) that Snape has always been on the side of good, often putting his own life in danger to ensure the eventual demise of the dark lord.

2        The Empire Strikes Back’s Yoda – If for no other reason than his 900 years in the business, Yoda is an all-time great. Longevity aside, he imparts his wisdom with Confucius-like simplicity. “Do or do not. There is no try,” and “Judge me by my size,” have a way of sticking with you, even after a long day of flipping through slimy mud holes. Yoda would rank higher, but the one time he managed to let a student slip, it turned out really poorly for the rest of the galaxy.

1        The Miracle Worker’s Anne Sullivan – The only character on our list who was also a real person gets the top spot. Frankly, if “The Miracle Worker” were a piece of fiction, audiences would have panned it as being too far-fetched. That is precisely why Anne Sullivan is deserving of all the notoriety she has received.

The mere thought of teaching a blind, deaf and mute girl to read and write is absurd. But that is what Sullivan did. The techniques she used to get through to Helen Keller were equal parts savage and brilliant. A lot of what she managed to accomplish came through sheer force of will.

We can’t discount Keller’s part in the breakthrough, but it was Sullivan who gave her the tools. That is what teaching is all about.


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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