Inspirational Teachers in the Movies

Teachers are the life blood of our educational system. They help educate our young people, and prepare them for a life in American society. In life, teachers are a mixed bag. There are amazing, inspirational teachers, and substitutes who just warm a desk.

In the movie Stand and Deliver, Edward James Olmos plays inspirational teacher Jaime Escalante, photo by Losanheles

In the movie Stand and Deliver, Edward James Olmos plays inspirational teacher Jaime Escalante, photo by Losanheles

In the movies, however, there are a lot more of inspirational kind. Here are a fewof my personal favorite films about learning—movies about passionate, dedicated teachers who sacrifice everything for the betterment of their pupils. Need a reason to get fired up about school? Just watch any one of these movies and feel the heat.

Stand and Deliver – Edward James Almos stars as Jaime Escalante, a teacher in a Hispanic neighborhood. Frustrated by the system not caring about his troubled students, he adopts some unconventional methods to motivate and teach his students. Somehow, he manages to get them to focus and learn calculus. Escalante was a real teacher, and his story is truly inspiring.

The Great DebatorsMelvin Tolson (played here by Denzel Washington) is a real life inspiration. He created the first debate team for a small Texas college, fighting all the odds and most of society because it was 1935 and African Americans doing things like debating was controversial. Dr. Tolson was a real life American trail blazer, and this movie honors him well.

The Miracle Worker – Everyone knows about Helen Keller, the brilliant woman born blind and deaf who ended up becoming an author, a scholar, and an advocate. But this movie focuses on Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft) the woman who taught Keller how to communicate with the world.

Half Nelson – This very different kind of inspirational teacher is played by Ryan Gosling. He teaches elementary school, coaches basketball, and really seems to care about helpinmg the kids. He’s also a heroin addict and substance abuser. When one of his students finds out his secret, they begin a strange friendship in trying to help each other.

Dead Poets Society – Robin Williams is hired to teach literature and classics to the students of an uptight all-male boarding school. He is passionate about his job, using jokes and humor to grab the kids attention, and then getting them hooked on books. The movie is a fine blend of comedy and drama, and shows how a good teacher and can open a child’s mind to the world.

Akeelah and the Bee – Young Akeelah has a rough life. Her father is dead, her brother is in a gang, and her mother doesn’t seem to care about her daughter. After being forced to enter a spelling bee, she discovers she has a talent for it. Working with an English professor played by the great Laurence Fishburne, Akeelah tries to spell her way to a national championship, and a better life.

Did I miss any of your favorite movie teachers? Drop me a comment down below and let me know!

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