Top 10 Best Teachers On TV (And Movies, Too!)Karen Belz
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5. Mr. G – Summer Heights High

Summer Heights High is an Australian mockumentary that gained a lot of attention when it aired in 2007. Created by Chris Lilly, who plays three characters (including the one highlighted here), it was a parody of high school life that included non-actors as background players.

The character of Mr. G  is an effeminate 37-year-old drama teacher at the school who believes he’s extremely well liked – so he’s somewhat of a dramatic Australian Michael Scott.

While he might not be as kind as the aforementioned teachers, he definitely has a passion behind the musical he wants to produce at school – based on a student’s unfortunate death based on drugs, yet somehow named Mr. G: The Musical.

6. Professor Farnsworth – Futurama

Good news, everyone! Every list of great teachers deserves one mad scientist. While a bit senile, the Professor has put at least one parallel universe in peril with his inventions – yet he never let the bad days take away his dream of being the best scientist out there. (Hear that, Odgen Wernstrom? He’s just not giving up.)

Farnsworth makes the list because while being a bit dim, he has helped the crew during many an episode. While I unpopularly love the “Jurassic Bark” episode where Fry tries to rejuvenate a mummified version of his loving dog Seymour, it’s Farnsworth who creates the device to make it possible.

(And it fails because of Bender. I won’t explain it further, as I’ve been near tears since the start of that second paragraph.) (It’s just an emotional episode, okay?)

7. Dewey Finn – School of Rock

dewey

I always liked Jack Black, but School of Rock is one of his projects that has impressed me the most. When he’s kicked out of his band in the beginning of the movie and threatened to be evicted by his two roommates, Ned and Patty, based on his lack of a job, Dewey pretends he’s Ned on the phone and accepts a substitute teacher assignment. While not being fit to teach kids, his interest in the classroom grows once he realizes his students are musically talented.

Long story short, the kids form a secret band with Dewey and end up kicking a lot of butt at a Battle of the Bands. And while their parents are ticked off at Dewey for not teaching their children academic studies and for running away from them to play a show, they realize he’s harmless and the kids are having an amazing time.

8. Syrio Forel – Game Of Thrones 

Sure, Syrio wasn’t on the show for long, but his amazing fencing skills were passed onto everyone’s favorite character, the young Arya Stark.  Syrio trained Arya using wooden swords filled with lead, and also mentored her on how to think like a warrior: to be perceptive, move with grace, and command her fear.

While Syrio’s teachings may have lead to a lot of bruises, (as he says, every hurt is a lesson and every lesson makes you better), Arya refuses to learn under anyone else.

In turn, Arya turned out to be one of the most fearless members of the Stark family.

9. Lily Aldrin – How I Met Your Mother

Lily makes some questionable choices as a teacher and might have badmouthed a few of her students while trying to figure out a baby name with her husband Marshall, but she’s a tough little firecracker who seems content with her job. I mean, with activities like coloring, finger painting, show and tell, nap time and sharing, what’s there to be sad about?

Lily also has a Career Day, where she brings some of her buddies (Robin and Barney) in to talk about what they do for a living. As a running gag, it’s still never revealed as to what Barney does for a living. Instead of writing it on the chalkboard under his name, all it said was “not the purple one”.

10. Prof. Grady Tripp – Wonder Boys        

grady-tripp-wonder-boys

First thing’s first – if you’ve never seen this movie, please do. This was back when Tobey Maguire was still boyishly cute, and not in the midst of a scary dangerous Seabiscuit weight plummet. But this is about Grady – played by the wonderful Michael Douglas.

Grady is so influential as an English professor that Tobey’s character, James Leer, uses him as a mentor without him every officially accepting the job. Grady’s also a writer, working on a follow-up to a best selling novel. And as many writers who feel the pressure of their second big hit, which has been in an “incomplete” status for many years, there’s a sadness in Grady.

While he might not make all of the right personal choices, Grady isn’t jarring or dimwitted – he’s human, and quite an amazing character.

Who makes your list of top teachers? Do you have any teachers you’d like to give props to in the comments? We’d love to hear about some of the strong people who’ve taught and inspired you!

Photo Credits: meetinthelobby.com (Spicoli & Hand), bestforfilm.com (Grady Tripp), quotefully.com (Dewey Finn), charactergrades.com (Jess Day gif)

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  1. So Dead Poets Society doesn’t even get a mention (possibly the best and most inspirational teacher ever depicted in film)? Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers is just AMAZING. Mr. Holland’s Opus? Heck, even Mona Lisa Smile? I know this is hello giggles, but come on – Jess on “New Girl” is cute, but a Johnny Come Lately and hardly on par in terms of depth, substance/genuine emotion or even screen time ‘teaching’!

  2. How can you forget Mr Keating from “Dead Poets Society”? Or the beloved Principal Skinner from “the Simpsons”?

  3. Any list of this nature is incomplete without mention of both music teacher Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) of “Mr. Holland’s Opus” fame and Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) of the 1970s “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

  4. may I suggest “The English Teacher” movie starring Julianne Moore
    She is awesome in that character!
    Now in theaters!!

  5. I have to just say bravo to the kid on the video. Some kids do want to learn, and that needed pointing out. From the list, my favorite is Jess(who aside from being portrayed by Zooey Deschanel, who makes watching the role even more fun with her quirkiness), simply because that is how a teacher is supposed to be. I was lucky enough to have some really great teachers who actively engaged their students, especially in Drama, English, and Science, back when I was in high school(in a small town, ya’ll), so I know how much the right teachers can contribute to the future of a child or teenager.

  6. Agree with the Harry Potter ones Caitlin mentioned. Also another Zooey D character the teacher from Bridge to Terabithia (even though that movie makes children cry ;-) ),

  7. May I add?

    John Keating, Dead Poets Society
    Professor Mcgonagall, Snape, and Dumbledore, Harry Potter
    Ms. Frizzle, Magic School Bus
    YODA, Starwars

    that’s just a few off the top of my head

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