Here is a list not only of the most famous but also of the most-loved teachers in movie history. They are culled from these selected blockbuster films of the 60s to the present. Real or fictitious, the audience didn’t really care. What impressed them about these films was that they were able to reach and touch the very depths of their hearts and minds.
1. Mark Thackeray of To Sir With Love
To Sir with Love which was written, directed, and produced by James Clavell was one of the classic films of the 60s. Released in 1967, it starred Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray, a black Communications Engineering graduate who couldn’t find an engineering job in England. To earn a living, he applied as a teacher at the Northern Quay Secondary School in London, an institution made up of students from rough homes. He proved to be an excellent teacher, showing his concern not only with the academic but also with the emotional aspects of his students. Thus, in the end, Thackeray gained their respect and admiration.
2. Miyagi of Karate Kid
Miyagi was a Japanese immigrant to the U.S. who became the martial arts mentor and surrogate father of Daniel LaRusso, the ‘karate kid.’ From a lanky teenager who was beaten savagely by a gang of bad boys, Miyagi was able to transform Daniel into an excellent karate student, beating his enemies, and winning a karate tournament. Pat Morita starred as Miyagi, and Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso in this action-drama movie which was released in 1984.
3. Jaime Escalante of Stand and Deliver
This is a story of Jaime Escalante, a dedicated math teacher who inspired his students to take and pass the difficult AP Calculus Test. His students showed indifference to their studies, having lacklustre school performances. However, this did not discourage Escalante from believing in their abilities, prodding, and motivating them to strive for excellence. This resulted in making them pass the test with flying colors. Edward James Olmos starred as Jaime Escalante in this 1988 true-to-life story.
4. Dumbledore of Harry Potter
This 150-year-old headmaster was considered the wisest of the wizard mentors in the school where Harry Potter and other students of wizardry were educated. He was the symbol of goodness, as J. K. Rowling, the story’s author, wanted to personify him. His popularity was not diminished even if it was hinted at that he had a gay side to his personality. Many fans were disappointed when he got killed by Snape, a villain in the novel, in the sixth series of Harry Potter. The actor who originally played Dumbledore was Richard Harris, but he was replaced by Michael Gambon after Harris died.
5. Lou Anne Johnson of Dangerous Minds
This real-life drama movie released in 1995 is about a lady Marine officer who left her career in the military to become an English teacher of tough kids. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the role of Lou Anne Johnson, a professor who bribed her students with candy bars and intimidated them with her karate skills to change their negative attitude towards education into a positive one. The movie was inspired from My Posse Don’t Do Homework, a memoir written by Johnson herself.
6. John Kimble of Kindergarten Cop
This is a 1990 comedy film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger who played a tough city cop named John Kimble who was trying to catch a drug dealer named Cullen Crisp. To achieve his mission, Kimble went undercover by becoming a kindergarten teacher where his son was attending school. Kimble’s character was likable and endearing. Despite his masculine personality, he is seen interacting playfully with his cute and hyperactive pupils.
7. Annie Sullivan of The Miracle Worker
This is the true story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. Helen got infected with a serious illness when she was 19 months old which made her deaf and blind for life. When she was seven years old, a young teacher by the name of Annie Sullivan was hired by her parents to be Helen’s mentor and companion. Through Sullivan’s love and persistence, Helen was able to overcome her disabilities. She learned how to speak and write and became one of the most admired women in history. The Miracle Worker was shown in 1962 starring Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller.
8. Joe Clark of Lean on Me
This is a true story of a high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey named Joe Clark who transformed a crime and drug-infested school into an orderly and successful educational organization. Clark’s character was described as confident, powerful, and determined. By applying his attributes in his work, he was able to change his rotten organization into an ideal establishment. Actor Morgan Freeman played the role of Joe Clark in this 1989 drama movie.
9. Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones was an archaeologist-professor who was hired to find the Ark of the Covenant by the U.S. government in this 1981 adventure movie. Indy, Indiana’s moniker, was not only an ordinary professor but he was also a hero in pursuit of exciting adventures. Harrison Ford made famous his role as the rough and swashbuckling fictitious Indiana Jones in this movie which is reputed to be one of the top-grossing films of all time.
10. Prof. Sherman Klump of The Nutty Professor
Sherman Klump was an extremely obese professor who was ashamed of his size. Wanting to win the affection of his dream girl, he invented a drug which turns him into a non-obese and physically fit personality named Buddy Love. However, Buddy Love’s offensive and arrogant character made the gentle and likable Klump regret his invention. This 1996 film is a remake of the 1963 movie with the same title which starred Jerry Lewis as the original nutty professor.
There is a common clichÃƒ© that the teaching profession is the noblest of all professions. It is the only profession that can mold people’s characters and beliefs. It is, perhaps, for this reason that the film industry has paid tribute to teachers by producing movies that showed their excellence, sacrifices, and greatness of heart. It does not really matter whether the teachers in this article are real or not. Their characters and the lessons they have conveyed in the films are what remained in the hearts and minds of their audience. Though they were seen and heard only on screen, these famous teachers also showed us that the youth have indeed the power within them to make their lives more meaningful and beautiful, thus giving their own contribution into the shaping of a better world.