15 of the Best and Worst Pop Culture Teachers Are Put to the Test

3 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

The end of the school year inevitably brings heated debate among parents and politicians about the value of tests  – for both students and teachers. Families insist that their children can’t be quantified by a single number, while educators reject being graded themselves or having their salaries tied to classroom performance.

Which, class clown that I am, naturally got me to thinking: How would the teachers in movies and on TV shows fare if they were subjected to the same evaluation system currently employed in real life?

Let’s sneak a peek at their report cards!


Image via: Columbia Pictures
To Sir, With Love (1967)
Teacher Name: Mark Thackeray
Alter Ego: Sidney Poitier
Pluses: Willing to teach delinquents at a failing school in the East End of London – as long as they follow his rules (mostly involving respect… and good grooming)
Minuses: Only teaching until a good engineering job comes through (or so he thinks)
Extracurricular: Excellent role model

Final Grade: A-

Image via: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Stand & Deliver (1988)
Teacher Name: Jaime Escalante
Alter Ego: Edward James Olmos
Pluses: Insists math is important – and anyone can learn it if they apply themselves
Minuses: Makes a mistake in class that causes his students to be accused of cheating (because they all made the same mistake on the big test)
Extracurricular: The real-life Escalante was fired because his class was so popular it lead to overcrowding, and students coming to school early and staying late

Final Grade: B+

Image via: Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
Teacher Name: John Keating
Alter Ego: Robin Williams
Pluses: Gets students to think for themselves and try new things
Minuses: As long as all thoughts students thought for themselves and new things tried were in line with Keating’s thoughts and approved activities
Extracurricular: Destroys school property; one student dead by suicide

Final Grade: C-

Image via: Universal Studios

Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Teacher Name: John Kimble
Alter Ego: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Pluses: Bulletproof (who needs lock-down drills?)
Minuses: “It might be a tumor.”
Extracurricular: Knows how to handle a gun. And a lonely mom.

Final Grade: B

Image via: Universal Studios

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
Teacher Name: Glenn Holland
Alter Ego: Richard Dreyfuss
Pluses: Inspires love of music (not just desires for an easy A)
Minuses: Can get hundreds of grateful students (including a Senator) to turn up for his retirement, but can’t get them (including a Senator) to donate a couple of bucks each to keep the school music program going?
Extracurricular: Doesn't run off with a teen-age girl when she asks him to

Final Grade: B+

Image via: 20th Century Fox

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Teacher’s Name: Charles Xavier
Alter Ego: Patrick Stewart
Pluses: Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters appears to charge no tuition
Minuses: Telepathically messes with student Jean’s mind (without telling her), leading to creation of destructive alternate personality (oops)
Extracurricular: Roller derby, anyone?

Final Grade: C

Image via: Paramount Pictures

School of Rock (2003)
Teacher Name: Dewey Finn a.k.a Ned Shneebly
Alter Ego: Jack Black
Pluses: Plays a kick-ass show!
Minuses: Doesn’t actually know anything about any subjects beyond rock & roll
Extracurricular: School of Rock after-school program!

Final Grade: C+

Image via:Warner Bros. Television


Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979)
Teacher Name: Gabe Kotter
Alter Ego: Gabe Kaplan (see, they’re totally different people)
Pluses: Former Sweathog now teaching Sweathogs
Minuses: Students pushing 30, still haven't graduated (the prettiest one dropped out, presumably to spend more time at the disco)
Extracurricular: Borscht Belt jokes. So. Many. Borscht Belt jokes.

Final Grade: D+

Image via: 20th Television

White Shadow (1978-1981)
Teacher Name: Ken Reeves
Alter Ego: Ken Howard (again, totally different people)
Pluses: Coaches basketball and tries very hard to stay out of his students’ business
Minuses: Actually had a class graduate! (Which meant building a whole new team from scratch the next semester.)
Extracurricular: Got more dates than his students! (Though not with his students.)

Final Grade: A

Image via: Warner Bros.

Head of the Class (1986-1991)
Teacher Name: Charlie Moore
Alter Ego: Howard Hesseman
Pluses: Enamored with history
Minuses: Enamored with his own opinions on history
Extracurricular: Keeps telling his academically gifted students to get his version of a life, instead of doing his job and supporting theirs

Final Grade: B

Image via: ABC

Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
Teacher Name: George Feeny
Alter Ego: William Daniels
Pluses: High standards for all students (and next door neighbors)
Minuses: Told class “I love you all” on last episode. A practice frowned upon by most teachers unions and PTAs
Extracurricular: Sounds just like the car on Knight Rider!

Final Grade: A

Image via: FOX TV

Glee (2009-2015)
Teacher Name: Will Scheuster
Alter Ego: Matthew Morrison
Pluses: Revived the Glee Club
Minuses: Has no life, friends or interests outside of Glee Club
Extracurricular: Marries the guidance counselor, then quits

Final Grade: C

Image via: FX

Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Teacher Name: Walter White
Alter Ego: Bryan Cranston
Pluses: Hands-on chemistry learning
Minuses: Hands-on chemistry learning making meth
Extracurricular: Murder

Final Grade: D (not an F because darn it if Jesse didn’t learn a ton of chemistry from him)

Image via: ABC

How To Get Away With Murder (2014 - )
Teacher Name: Annalise Keating
Alter Ego: Viola Davis
Pluses: Teaches future defense attorneys how to get away with murder
Minuses: Teaches present-day sociopaths how to get away with murder
Extracurricular: Gets away with murder
Final Grade: Incomplete (pending whether or not her students – and/or Annalise – actually do get away with murder... long-term)


It’s a two-fer!

Image via: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Bad Teacher: The Movie (2011)
Teacher Name: Elizabeth Halsey
Alter Ego: Cameron Diaz
Pluses: Wants her students to do well on state test
Minuses: Wants her students to do well on state test so she can win a bonus and get a boob job
Extracurricular: Dating (and hopefully marrying) rich

Final Grade: N/A (left teaching to become a guidance counselor)

Image via: CBS

Bad Teacher: The TV series (2014)
Teacher Name: Meredith Davis
Alter Ego: Ari Graynor
Pluses: Mentors students
Minuses: Mentors students re: the benefits of marrying rich – and never working again
Extracurricular: Plotting to marry rich and never work again

Final Grade: F (did not marry rich and had to keep working – until the series was cancelled)

So what do you think? Do these movie and TV teachers deserve tenure… or fast track to retirement?


- Alina Adams


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