Throughout television history, strong, kind, inspirational educators have helped to keep us glued to our sets. Some may have been less than kind for the sake of entertainment, but the one thing they all have in common is they are all memorable. As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, take a few minutes to remember your favorites.
Bart Simpson is a handful and Edna would know. The most shocking part of her character is that she never ran away although the thought clearly crossed her mind. Always known for being love struck (and smoking IN school), she is a strong part of the ensemble that is The Simpsons and Springfield wouldn’t be the same without her.
Welcome Back Kotter
Welcome Back Kotter is noted for John Travolta getting his real break in acting but it’s hard to ignore the skills of the title character. Mr. Kotter was able to teach and connect with a bunch of misfits. He had the street smarts but he also had heart that brought them together and allowed them to succeed. If you haven’t ever seen it you should check it out, if not for the 70s hairstyles alone.
Magic School Bus
One of my kids’ favorite shows I don’t mind them getting hooked on is the animated series, Magic School Bus. Based on a book series of the same name, these shows bring magic to learning. How cool would it be to be able to get on a bus and explore the inner workings of a body, or go to a theater production and learn about how light works? Every episode brings the kids together on a magical learning experience and the viewer walks away knowing something new. Ms. Frizzle is positive, upbeat, and always eager to share the joy of learning. What more could you ask for from a teacher?
Boy Meets World
Somehow, Mr. Feeny managed to teach the gang of Boy Meets World every year. We won’t ask how that works, but it did. He was lovable, wise, kind and always strove to be a good mentor and friend. It’s a simple equation, but it worked for obvious reasons. A teen favorite throughout the years, Boy Meets World fans have grown up with help from Mr. Feeny.
Okay, he really isn’t an “inspirational” teacher. That said, he knew his stuff and he was good teacher… when he was teaching. At the beginning of the series when he seemed more innocent, he was supported by his faculty and his students. Although his skills took him in a more questionable direction, actor Bryan Cranston delivered a teacher that you’ll never forget.
Saved By The Bell
While everyone remembers Principal Belding from this popular teen show, it would have never started without Miss Bliss. What many viewers don’t know is the show started as Good Morning, Miss Bliss, with Haley Mills playing a caring and popular teacher to her students. When Mills left the show one season later the title was changed -- but I grew up wanting her to be my teacher.
Will Schuster and Sue Sylvester
One of the most popular prime time shows of the last decade, Mr. Schuster taught more than just song and dance. He cared about the students and the program. Sue Sylvester, on the other hand, was one of the best arch-nemeses in TV history and that was thanks to Jane Lynch. She had a heart of stone, except around the topic of her disabled sister. Her connection with her cheerleader sidekick, who happened to have down syndrome, was always sweet and it was hard to ignore that twinkle of humanity in her. It might be arguable to say the show left at its best, but throughout the years, the pair produced some of the best high school battles in television history.
“You've got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying ... in sweat.” Producing one of the best quotes in television history, Debbie Allen’s Grant highlights the show’s opening sequence and prepares you to work hard, even if you are just sitting on your couch. A series about an arts school in New York, it stressed the difficulties the characters went through day in and day out. Grant was hard, but she was hard for a reason. She wanted to produce successful students but she also had the heart to help pull them through.
Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski
In the underrated HBO series, a cop turned math teacher, Prez, managed to find his way into a broken system to get through to the kids without getting too emotionally involved. His background in law enforcement allowed him to connect with the street savvy kids of Baltimore and do more for them than others had in the past.
Who is your favorite TV teacher?