13 Most Inspiring Fictional Teachers

Before I became a TA, I thought teaching was fairly easy to pull off. You show up to school, you effortlessly teach a subject you have learned and taught your entire life, you play God when it comes to grading, and then you get to go home and watch The Big Bang Theory.

HAHA. In reality, you most likely have to go home and grade papers and remember to DVR Big Bang Theory so that you can watch it two weekends later when you have the time. I have so much respect for almost every single teacher I have had in my life. I’m talking about teachers who have spent their entire lives motivating and showing students their potential, teachers who love their subject so much it radiates, and teachers who have made such a profound difference in our lives. We wouldn’t be the same without them. Teaching is also one of the most under-appreciated jobs, so we decided HelloGiggles should celebrate Teacher’s Day by listing some of our favorite, most inspirational and memorable teachers we have seen or read about. Here are mine:

1. Jaime A. Escalante in Stand and Deliver

Stand and Deliver is a high school staple. You did not truly get your American education if you did not watch Stand and Deliver at least three times. In every grade level. I’m not sure whether it encouraged us to try harder in Alegebra II, or rejoice because we didn’t have to learn anything new that day, but it was always uplifting nevertheless. Mr. Escalante (played by Edward James Olmos), a phenomenal math teacher, is able to uncover the genuine potential of his classroom, a group of underprivileged kids with rough edges. In under a year, he’s able to take them from basic math to calculus. Based on a true story, Jaime Escalante basically proves that everyone can be good at math if they try (and study for 365 days straight).


2. Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter 

Harry Potter would not be the same Harry Potter were it not for Dumbledore (played by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in the movies), the wise and powerful, great wizard. Personally, my favorite Dumbledore moment was when he bit into a jellybean and sputtered, “Alas! Earwax!”


3. John Keating in Dead Poets Society

On the first day of every semester, I am totally tempted to passionately instruct my class to rip up their books, but I don’t because a) I might get fired, b) there is no way the students would rip up their already overly priced textbooks, and c) all of their reading is online anyway. But I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be as poetic and cool as Robin Williams is in Dead Poets Society. Also, if you’re ever confused about poetry, just remember this quote: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, these are what we stay alive for.”


4. Dewey Finn in School of Rock

Dewey Finn (Jack Black) somehow finagles his way into teaching a 4th grade class at a fancy private school. Finn may not be the most conventional “teacher,” but he certainly trains his class of ten year-olds to become devoted musicians and grow confident with their musical abilities.


5. Ms. Frizzle in The Magic School Bus 

Ms. Frizzle definitely made science class more hands-on and had a very experimental curriculum (is that what Montessori is like?). I desperately wished field trips entailed shrinking to the size of red blood cells to explore the human body, but we mostly just memorized the Table of Elements and watched documentaries. Still cool, but not nearly as invasive.


6. Mr. Feeny in Boy Meets World

Mr. FeenyFe-fe-fe-heeeeen-naaaayyyy – is the ultimate moral compass and smart ass teacher. Mr. Feeny (played by William Daniels) knows about life, love, success, failure, confidence, and basically how to live like a good human being in a world filled with assholes. Everyone needs a Feeny in their lives.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=851885006 Jenny Lonussen

    Personally I feel like Zooey D should have a double entry, as both Jessica Day and the teacher from Bridge To Terabithia :-) But this is a great list!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1624590127 Melissa Boydstun

    Karen Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) in Donnie Darko.

    • Gina Vaynshteyn

      Don’t worry, she’s on the second page. How could I forget!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=89901317 Sara Alexis

    You forget about another great Zooey teacher, Ms. Edmunds in Bridge to Terabithia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680648418 Kira Erwin

    I personally feel that Julia Roberts as Katherine Ann Watson from Mona Lisa Smile should be included in this list. She really inspired her students, not only in Arthur History, but also in standing up for what you want in a society that tells you how to be, and what to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680648418 Kira Erwin

    I personally feel that Julia Roberts as Katherine Ann Watson from Mona Lisa Smile should be included in this list. She really inspired her students, not only in Art History, but also in standing up for what you want in a society that tells you how to be and what to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=785679651 Maria De Miguel Acuña

    Michelle Pfeiffer was pretty badass in Dangerous Minds. Also, in a very rough and realistic take on the subject is Adrian Brody in Detachment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003721276645 Milton Meneses

    jaime escalante ‘s great.
    is my favorite movies but I’ll add the num 1 for me.
    Good Will Hunting ( Good Will Hunting in Spain , Will Hunting in Latin America and in Mexico indomitable Mind ) is a 1997 film directed by director Gus Van Sant . The film received nine Academy Award nominations ( winning two of them , one for Best Original Screenplay for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and the other for best supporting actor Robin Williams).

    Will Hunting 20 years of age, ( Matt Damon) of South Boston has a level of intellect of a genius and an eidetic memory, but chooses to work as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spending his free time with his friends Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) , Billy McBride (Cole Hauser ) and Morgan O’Mally (Casey Affleck) . When combinatoriaista Fields Medal winner , Professor Gerald Lambeau ( Stellan Skarsgård ) publishes a difficult problem taken from algebraic graph theory as a challenge to his graduate students to solve the problem quickly resolved, but anonymously. Lambeau publishes a much more difficult problem and most likely it resolved Will , but Will escapes . Meet Skylar ( Minnie Driver), a British student about to graduate from Harvard University and get a graduate degree in the School of Medicine, Stanford University, in California.

    Will faces imprisonment after attacking a man who had bullied him as a child . Lambeau to resign Will go to jail if he agrees to study mathematics under the supervision of Lambeau and see a therapist . Will agrees, but treats its first therapists with contempt and refuse to work with him. In desperation, Lambeau asks Sean Maguire (Robin Williams ), his college roommate who also grew up in South Boston and now teaches psychology at Bunker Hill Community College. Unlike other therapists , Sean pushes back at Will and overcomes his defense mechanisms, and after a few unproductive sessions Will begins to open.

    Will is particularly struck by the story of how Sean met his wife to give up his ticket to the historic sixth game of the World Series in 1975 after falling in love at first sight. Sean does not regret his decision, and regret the years of his marriage when his wife was dying of cancer. This encourages Will to build a relationship with Skylar , though he lies about his past and refuses to submit to show your friends or run-down neighborhood . Will also challenges Sean to take an objective look at your own life , as Sean could not get past the death of his wife.

    Will begins to chafe under Lambeau ‘s high expectations and mocks job interviews that Lambeau arranges for him. Sean warns Lambeau against pushing the boy too hard. You get into a heated argument between the two about their future and greatly bothered . When Skylar asks Will to move to California with her, panics and pushes her away , revealing that he is an orphan and that his foster father physically abuse him. Skylar tells Will that she loves him , but he refuses her lover and then leaves . He is tormented with Lambeau , dismissing the mathematical research he has been doing . Sean points out that Will is so adept at anticipating future failure in his interpersonal relationships that deliberately sabotages them in order to avoid the risk of emotional pain. When he refuses to give an honest answer about what to do with his life , Sean shows him the door. Chuckie tells Will she wants to be a worker for the rest of his life ; Chuckie responds that it would be an insult to his friends because Will lose his potential, and his biggest wish is that Will should go out and look for something bigger. Will decides to accept one of the job offers arranged by Lambeau .

    In another therapy session, Sean and Will share that both were victims of child abuse, and Sean helps Will to accept that the abuse he suffered was not his fault . Having helped to overcome their problems , Sean reconciles with Lambeau and decides to take a year off to travel the world . When Will ‘s friends present him with a Chevrolet Nova rebuilt by his 21st birthday, decides to spend his lucrative job offers and leads to California to reunite with Skylar .

    this movie changed my way of seeing life as well as your Zoeey my favorite girl .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668791882 Natalie Clack

    What about hilary swank if the freedom writers :/ she’s pretty amazing in that role!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039701332 Bruce Alan Thomas

    Mr. Holland (Mr. Holland’s Opus). I was surprised not to see this one, thought for sure he’d make the cut.

    Also I agree with other posters about Ms. Edmunds (Bridge to Terabithia) and Ms. Watson (Mona Lisa Smile).

    Additionally Mrs. Gruwell (Freedom Writers) and Mr. Tolson (Great Debators). Many of the movies inspired by real life teachers are worth mentioning but these are just a few.

    Excellent list though as I find myself hard pressed not to agree with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002922391097 Thais Abreu

    I love Julia Roberts as Katherine Watson in Mona Lisa Smile. That movie is so underrated, but still one of my favourites!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=775054914 Adina Judovin

      That’s a great one!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1130042652 Checho Bouyer

    you really need to watch Coach Carter

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=775054914 Adina Judovin

    I knew Feeney would be on this list; it’d be awful if he wasn’t.

    How about Giles? Does he count as a teacher? And Coach Taylor? Not traditional teachers, but faculty nonetheless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=644872320 Tim Chandler

    No Will Shuester from Glee?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1169125124 Carlos Farias

    How about professor Bill from “Perks of being a wallflower”, he was an inspiration, isn’t he?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586489148 Jessica Nicotra

    What about Ms Honey in Matilda? :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1299349710 Audrey Holmes

      She is #8

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005084314929 Christabel Fluffiecorn

    Will Schuester from Glee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1428236785 Michelle Lowe

    You left out the most important fictional teacher of all times. Sidney Poitier portraying Mr. Mark Thackery in To Sir, With Love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000952168350 Petr Springinsfeld

    What about Henry Jones Jr. ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1299349710 Audrey Holmes

    Richard Dreyfuss as Mr Holland in “Mr. Holland’s Opus”
    Matthew Perry as Ron Clark in “The Ron Clark Story”
    Viola Davis playing Nona Alberts in “Won’t Back Down”
    Hillary Swank as Erin Gruwell in “Freedom Writers”
    I am a teacher and no one should be issued a teaching degree without watching and fully understanding these films and the reality that these films portray.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506732178 Naomi Ohayon

    As a fan of T.V. and many different shows. One of my favourite inspiring fictional teachers in my personal opinion is Mr. Shue from Glee. He gave students a safe place to be themselves, he supported them, encouraged them and didn’t judge them.

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