Gina Vaynshteyn
May 06, 2014 8:00 am

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. Feeny – Fe-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.

7. Miss Norbury in Mean Girls

Miss Norbury (Tina Fey) is one of the best math teachers, ever. Not only is she jaded and hilarious, but she’s really smart and wants to help Cady find her way back to being a decent person who rights her wrongs. She also calls everyone out for being a mean girl, and is basically the high school’s savior.

8. Miss Honey in Matilda

Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz in the movie) symbolizes every little and girl and boy’s hope that they will be discovered by a benevolent and kind school teacher that will take them under their wing and appreciate them for their weirdness and telekinetic powers.

9. Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter

If I include Dumbledore, then I HAVE to include Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith in the movies), who we are introduced to as a cat. Minerva McGonagall is rigid, but fiercely loyal. And just fierce.

10. Mr. White in Breaking Bad

Alright, so maybe a high-school chemistry teacher turned drug lord isn’t the greatest role model of all time, but you have to hand it to Walt (Bryan Cranston) — he definitely put his knowledge of science to…lucrative use, whether he was making meth, dissolving bodies, or poisoning people.

11. Professor Xavier in X-Men

Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy in the movies) is the founder and creator of Xavier Institute, and his goal is to protect mutants from humans who don’t understand them, as well as promote a peaceful co-existence. He’s also super badass.

12. Jess Day in New Girl

Um, who isn’t totally in love with Miss Day?! Jess clearly loves her job and her kids. She was laid off in season two, which was completely unfair, but she soon got her groove back.

13. Miss Pomeroy in Donnie Darko

Miss Pomeroy taught us that “of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that ‘cellar door’ is the most beautiful.” She also inspired a billion bad “cellar door” tattoos, but that is neither here nor there.

Who are your favorite fictional teachers?!

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