Educators hold a significant position in every individual's life. From shaping our lives to leaving us with a lasting influence, the place of an educator can never be replaced. Hollywood hasn't failed to do its bit when it comes to the portrayal of inspirational teachers. From heart-warming dramas to comedies on a lighter note, Hollywood has depicted a plethora of teacher characters who have left a mark on the hearts of its viewers.
Let us explore some of these iconic educators in Hollywood
1. Annie Sullivan- The Miracle Worker (1962)
The Miracle Worker is the story of Annie Sullivan, played by Anne Bancroft who empowered Helen Keller by giving her a way to communicate with the world. Sullivan is a teacher who is partially blind herself but taught and supported a seven-year-old Keller to learn the alphabet and communicate, despite her being a violent and uncommunicative child. This film is the portrayal of a true story and both the actresses won the Oscars for their part in the film. An inspirational and classic movie, it is a must-watch.
2. Mr. Chips- Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
A classic for all the right reasons, Goodbye, Mr. Chips is the perfect example that explores the impact a great teacher can have on a generation of students. Oscar-winner, Robert Donat plays the character of Mr. Chips, who is an ageing classics teacher and former headmaster looking back at his life in the classroom which made him a better and kinder educator for his students and how he helped shape their lives.
3. John Keating- Dead Poets Society (1989)
Peter Weir’s directorial Dead Poets Society, which was also nominated for the best-picture is the first film that comes to mind when the topic of inspirational teacher characters comes up. John Keating, played by Robin Williams is an English teacher at an all boys’ prep-school. His unconventional teaching style and love for literature are what illuminate his students’ minds. John Keating aids towards making the students realise their potential and embrace their imaginations and individuality. Keating’s motto of ‘Carpe Diem’, or ‘seize the day’ is what marks his lasting impact upon his students as well as the audience. 'Oh Captain, My Captain' definitely struck a chord in people’s hearts.
4. Marine LouAnne Johnson- Dangerous Minds (1995)
Dangerous Minds is a film based on the autobiography of retired Marine LouAnne, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who is a teacher at a school in California infamous for its criminal and drug activity. LouAnne, who is white begins to teach at a class of predominantly Black and Hispanic students. Although the students dismiss her at first, she gains their trust eventually and works to motivate them. Marie Lou Anne is a life-altering mentor for her students.
5. Dewey Finn- School of Rock (2003)
Dewey Finn, played by actor Jack Black in Richard Linklator’s School of Rock, is definitely a teacher you will remember throughout your life. Dewey is a heavy metal-loving substitute teacher at a private school full of bashful and tense students. Through the power of rock ‘n’ roll, he helps to put his students at ease. Embracing the energy of Led Zeppelin, Dewey provides a sense of newfound confidence to his students. Unleashing the guitars and drums, through Black Sabbath, the local battle of bands and life lessons learnt at the most unexpected places, the students make their very personal self-discoveries.
6. Melvin B. Tolson- The Great Debaters (2007)
Based on an inspirational true story, The Great Debaters stars Denzel Washington who is a debate team coach at a historically Black School called Wiley College and trains his team to compete against predominantly white colleges. The film is set in the backdrop when the Jim Crow laws were applied in the country, and during a time of high racial segregation. Despite the prevalence of the blatant racism at the time, Tolson’s team beats the debate champions of Harvard College. This film is a truly uplifting and impactful film that deals with Black history.