Remembering our favorite TV teachers
March 2nd, 2012
11:50 AM ET

Remembering our favorite TV teachers

By Jordan Bienstock, CNN

(CNN) – Teachers play a tremendous role in shaping how we view the world. But who – or what – shapes our view of teachers? For me, and I’m guessing for many of us, the answer is entertainment.

We may spend years in the classroom with real-life teachers and professors, but the hopes and aspirations we assign to them are just as likely to come from their fictional counterparts.

To that end, the Schools of Thought blog has put together a list of some of our favorite TV teachers. This is by no means a complete list, nor a ranking, and we’re sticking strictly to television teachers (sorry, Principal Skinner and Coach Reeves).

Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan), “Welcome Back, Kotter”
Gabe Kotter returned to his alma mater in Brooklyn, taking on the task of teaching the Sweathogs, a group of remedial students. Kotter refused to accept that his students were destined to be underachievers, especially since he was part of that same group when he was in high school. His faith in their potential made believers out of the Sweathogs themselves, and prepared them for a brighter future.

Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman), “Head of the Class”
Mr. Moore walked into almost the exact opposite situation from Mr. Kotter. Initially a substitute teacher assigned to a class of gifted students, Moore didn’t need to push his charges to focus on academics. Rather, he inspired them to recognize that life isn’t found solely in textbooks, and he encouraged them to pursue and celebrate other aspects of life, helping them navigate the often emotional perils of high school life.

Carrie Bliss (Hayley Mills), “Good Morning, Miss Bliss”
Eventually folded into the high school sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” many of that show’s characters started out on this short-lived middle school show, which centered on Miss Bliss as an inspirational eighth-grade teacher. Often faced with moral dilemmas – both hers and her students’ – Bliss always took the high road and met her students’ concerns with caring and understanding.

George Feeny (William Daniels), “Boy Meets World”
Some teachers’ lessons may stick with students for years, but Mr. Feeny did one better by sticking around himself, joining his students on their journey through middle school, high school and college (plus, he was their neighbor). Despite his constant rejoinders about maintaining a line of demarcation between teachers and students, it was a line he often crossed to be a mentor to the rest of the characters on this show… even if it did mean jumping through some plot hoops to keep him in their lives.

Mr. Collins (Steven Gilborn), “The Wonder Years”
This last one is a sentimental pick, since Mr. Collins appeared in only three episodes as Kevin Arnold’s math teacher. His belief in Kevin, despite Kevin’s lack of faith, served as a reminder that teachers choose this profession in order to instill not just knowledge but confidence, and of the extraordinary dedication they have to their chosen field. Kevin acts out defiantly after Collins cancels a tutoring session before a major exam, and even though the character dies, he offers Kevin the opportunity to redeem himself and prove that their work together was meaningful and successful.

So, that’s our short list of some of our favorite teachers from the small screen. Which educators made a mark on your life, either as a student or a teacher?

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Filed under: Extracurricular • Teachers • Television
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. GrammarLady

    What about Miss Stacey from the Anne of Green Gables miniseries?

    March 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  2. Don

    Miss Landers!!

    March 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  3. Mark

    Professor Kingsley, Law Professor...forgot the shows name....about 40 years ago...man getting old myself!

    March 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  4. adolf shicklgruber

    Mr Novak. He was truly inspiring

    March 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  5. mary

    what about ms. frizzle? or do cartoon teachers not count?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  6. Joan Cochrane

    Our Miss Brooks ayone ? Eve Arden was great.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Joan Cochrane

      Any one

      March 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  7. T

    Mr. Moore (Head of the Class)('80s) and Gabe Kotter (Welcome back, Kotter) ('70s) would be on the top of the list.
    I wonder how the Advanced class of Moore's would get on with the Sweathogs if they were in the same universe, same time period and the same school in NYC ? (LOL)
    Ms. Krapabble of the "The Simpsons" makes me laugh.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  8. kevin

    What about the black woman on Room 222?

    March 4, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
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    Neal W. Dias

    March 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  10. Virginia

    What about the lovely Miss Beadle from Little House on the Prairie?

    March 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • emtgirl

      Agree!....I would have loved Ms Beadle as a teacher.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  11. Name*irene

    Men teachers are usually more fun.. they kid around with the kids more

    March 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  12. Marquita

    Theo Huxtable- The Cosbys- He inspired young urban students to belive in themselfs. At one point, a student, was teased because he couldnt read. Theo realized, that like he once had struggled as a young boy with learning, that the student had a reading disorder. The student had Dyslexia. Theo reassured him that it was ok, and the problem could be fixed. :)

    March 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  13. Marquita

    Theo Cosby- He inspired young urban students to belive in themselfs. At one point, a student, was teased because he couldnt read. Theo realized, that like he once had struggled as a young boy with learning, that the student had a reading disorder. The student had Dyslexia. Theo reassured him that it was ok, and the problem could be fixed. :)

    March 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  14. Marquita

    Theo Cosby- He inspired young urban students to belive in themselfs. At one point, a student, was teased because he couldnt read. Theo realized, that like he once had struggled as a young boy with learning, that the student had a reading disorder. The student Dyslexia. Theo reassured him that it was ok, and the problem could be fixed. :)

    March 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Michael

      Good Lord Marquita, did you even go to school?? I'm having an extremely hard time trying to decipher whatever that is you just wrote!

      March 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  15. cattie

    I aspire to like the teacher in the Peanuts Gang school; oh yes, that is how my students perceive me!

    March 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Name*irene

      Lol. And. You talk like that too? " wooooo ohmph oo mnph "

      March 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  16. Lori

    Not really TV but good ol Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High....funny dude!!

    March 3, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  17. abadfish4u

    What no krabapple

    March 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  18. Jimmy

    I could give a whole list of Kevin Arnold's teacher's on The Wonder Years, but I'll stick with my two favorites: Coach Cutlip and Ms. White.

    March 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • rlhayden78

      Yes! Ms. White was fantastic.

      March 3, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  19. julie

    Doesn't Ken Reeves (Ken Howard) from The White Shadow count?

    March 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  20. Katie

    Miss Landers on Leave it to Beaver!

    March 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  21. krag

    Rm 222 Karen Valentine hottest teacher on TV

    March 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  22. me

    I'm glad Feeny made the list. My favorite TV teacher to date, I think.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  23. Billy

    So this is really an article admitting that there are barely any teachers on TV...

    March 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  24. Koop

    Don't forget the teachers on Room 222.

    March 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  25. Frivolous Monsters

    Oh you obviously know nothing of Mr. Bronson as portrayed by Michael Sheard (Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) who put the fear of God into British child-viewers on Grange Hill in the eighties.

    March 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  26. Denise

    *this

    March 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  27. Denise

    Very telling that list list is almost exclusively male given the reality of the female dominated teaching profession.

    March 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm |