Top 10 Good Movie Teachers

Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. They’re the people you’d actually want to be called a teacher’s pet for. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Good Movie Teachers. For this list, we’re defining teachers as those who are employed by some sort of educational institution, so big screen faculty members and principals may be included as well – just as long as they’re memorable, inspiring, unique and/or have made a difference to their students. Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison, viliguns, lostfromview, Margaret Rd, yolanda baez, Erik Zarins, mgarber, China Rusch, beastlanky, Will Morton, sven van de riet, 7AMart1, XLuftWaffleX, Che Coelho, Blake Swihart or DPM, Niño Wenceslao, rase5994 and Shane Martin for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.

Top 10 Good Movie Teachers


They’re the people you’d actually want to be called a teacher’s pet for. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Good Movie Teachers.

For this list, we’re defining teachers as those who are employed by some sort of educational institution, so big screen faculty members and principals may be included as well – just as long as they’re memorable, inspiring, unique and/or have made a difference to their students.

#10: Glenn Holland
“Mr. Holland’s Opus” (1995)

The career of a teacher comes with its ups and downs and this film exemplifies that. “Mr. Holland’s Opus” follows the career of the fictional Mr. Holland as he teaches music at a high school. The drama really explores the difficulties of teaching and going after your own creative pursuits and how Mr. Holland struggles with what it truly means to be an example for his students. A hit with the critics, the 1995 Stephen Herek-directed flick earned Richard Dreyfuss both an Oscar and Golden Globe nod for his performance.

#9: Ms. Sharon Norbury
“Mean Girls” (2004)

Having Tina Fey as your teacher sounds like one of the best things that could happen to you as a student - and unsurprisingly, she really shines as the 12th grade calculus teacher in this flick. As the coach of the Mathletes, she struggles to get the kids to be passionate about school and not compromise who they are for other people. It’s even more interesting to see her give advice considering her life is a bit of mess, as a divorcee and part-time barmaid at TJ Calamity’s – but that just shows she isn’t perfect, just like everyone else. She’s also the voice of reason at Norbury High and is definitely under-appreciated.

#8: Minerva McGonagall
“Harry Potter” franchise (2001-11)

As the Transfiguration professor, and Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts, McGonagall can have the reputation for being something of a hardass. But really, her main goal is to protect the students from unsavory forces. She’s one to always have a sassy comeback or comment, and her considerable wit is just one aspect of her charm. She’s at her absolute best when she squares off against the dreadful Professor Umbridge, which shows students that she’s not a witch to be messed with.

#7: LouAnne Johnson
“Dangerous Minds” (1995)

Based on the autobiography, “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” by LouAnne Johnson, “Dangerous Minds” sees Michelle Pfeiffer bring the real-life U.S. Marine-turned-teacher to life. Telling the story of a no-nonsense first time teacher encountering black and Latino students from rival neighborhoods and gangs, the drama showcases her unorthodox techniques, like teaching the students karate to get them to respect her. Once she earns their trust, she’s able to push her students to new academic heights. Despite mediocre reviews, the movie was a smash box office hit.

#6: Erin Gruwell
“Freedom Writers” (2007)

Hollywood couldn’t make up a teacher as inspirational as Erin Gruwell, but it’s great to see her adapted on screen. “Freedom Writers” is based on the book that the real-life teacher wrote, and in it, she recounts how she used the events of the Holocaust to get her at-risk students to write. Thanks to her teaching skills, the students are able to express their own disappointment, hopes, and dreams for the first time. The film does a particularly great job in showing how dedication and time can pay off and affect a student’s life.

#5: Jaime Escalante
“Stand and Deliver” (1988)

Also based on a true-life teacher, this film follows Jaime Escalante’s classroom as he prepares a group of under-achieving students to take AP Calculus by their senior year. His classroom is no joke and he spends much of the film getting the students to believe in themselves and in his rigorous approach, which forces them to take multiple years of summer school. “Stand and Deliver” went on to earn actor Edward James Olmos an Oscar nod and has been preserved in the National Film Registry.

#4: Dewey Finn
“School of Rock” (2003)

There’s no reason why school can’t be fun and Dewey Finn proves this! After he’s kicked out of his band, Dewey pretends to be a substitute teacher at an uptight private school. He ends up being an unexpectedly great teacher; showing his students how to let go and using rock and roll as a way to get his students to become better individuals. He’s literally every kid’s dream teacher since he teaches them to stick it to the man and follow their dreams. Plus, he gives them awesome life advice about things like living hardcore.

#3: Miss Jennifer Honey
“Matilda” (1996)

Kind and soft-spoken, Miss Honey is that teacher that every kid wants to impress while growing up. In a school with a sadistic dictator-like principal, Miss Honey is Agatha Trunchbull’s exact opposite; she encourages students to find their voices, support one another, and use their brains in unorthodox ways. And you can’t forget how she encourages Matilda to keep on reading despite the disapproval of her parents. Things work out even better when Miss Honey is able to become the school’s principal and change it for the better.

#2: Mark Thackeray
“To Sir, with Love” (1967)

Inspired by the semi-autobiographical book by E.R. Braithwaite, this film is one of the shining moments for Sidney Poitier. After he loses his job as an engineer, he applies for a job as a high school teacher in a rough East End London school. Instead of giving up on his less-than-enthusiastic students, he engages them as adults and gives them the opportunity to be in charge of their own schooling. He’s tough and real with his students in a way that’s fresh and captivating and that’s what makes him so unforgettable.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Melvin B. Tolson
“The Great Debaters” (2007)
- Mr. Griffith
“Easy A” (2010)
- Roberta Guaspari
“Music of the Heart” (1999)
- Mr. Chips
“Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1939)

#1: John Keating
“Dead Poets Society” (1989)

Mr. Keating should be the standard for all English teachers, both fictional and real. As a teacher at a fictional all boys prep school, “Dead Poets Society” sees Mr. Keating using poetry to get his students to not only do better academically but to think of their lives in a new way. He’s passionate and knows exactly how to bring words to life – case in point, one particularly iconic scene in which he gets the students to stand on their desks and recite “O Captain! My Captain!” With a script based the screenwriter’s real-life school experiences, this drama truly felt authentic and Robin Williams played John Keating with subtlety and grace.

Do you agree with our list? Which movie teacher do you wish you had? For more educational Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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