12 Movie Teachers Who Changed Our Lives

1
Liam Neeson, 'Kinsey'
Liam Neeson, 'Kinsey'
Fox Searchlight Pictures via Everett Collection
Liam Neeson played Prof. Alfred Kinsey in the 2004 film 'Kinsey.' While his methods were highly controversial, his teachings about human sexuality were revolutionary and empowered his students to think and behave in new and exciting ways.
2
Pierre Dulaine, 'Dancing in Jaffa'
Pierre Dulaine, 'Dancing in Jaffa'
Sundance Selects
Real life teacher Pierre Dulaine is the subject of this year's documentary 'Dancing in Jaffa.' Dulaine is a world-renowned ballroom dancer who went back to his hometown in Israel to teach dance classes in neighborhoods divided by religion and politics. His methods for bringing together children and families (otherwise considered to be sworn enemies) are amazing and inspirational.
3
Mohamed Fellag, 'Monsieur Lazhar'
Mohamed Fellag, 'Monsieur Lazhar'
Music Box Films via Everett Collection
Mohamed Fellag played Bachir Lazhar in the 2011 Oscar-nominated film 'Monsieur Lazhar.' As an immigrant teacher replacing a beloved teacher who committed suicide in her classroom, Monsieur Lazhar walks into a difficult situation but ultimately triumphs, making powerful connections with the grieving students.
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4
Robin Williams, 'Dead Poets Society'
Robin Williams, 'Dead Poets Society'
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
Robin Williams played Prof. John Keating in 'Dead Poets Society.' Any English teacher who imagines, and performs, Marlon Brando doing Shakespeare is automatically one of the most brilliant instructors of all time.
5
Julia Roberts, 'Mona Lisa Smile'
Julia Roberts, 'Mona Lisa Smile'
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Julia Roberts brought some much-needed liberal, feminist thought to Wellesley college as art professor Katherine Ann Watson in 'Mona Lisa Smile.' Set in the '50s, the Golden Globe-nominated film also stars Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ginnifer Goodwin.
6
Morgan Freeman, 'Lean On Me'
Morgan Freeman, 'Lean On Me'
Warner Bros. via Everett Collection
Morgan Freeman changed all of our lives as principal Joe Clark in 'Lean On Me.' Based on a true story, he turned an entire school upside down with some borderline-illegal methods... okay, some were actually illegal (like the huge locks on the door ) but how else was he supposed to keep the drug dealers out?!
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7
Denzel Washington, 'The Great Debaters'
Denzel Washington, 'The Great Debaters'
MGM via Everett Collection
Denzel Washington made his directorial debut with 'The Great Debaters,' in which he played Prof. Melvin B. Tolson. Tolson was responsible for the first all-black debate team that went up against Harvard University's undefeated team in the '30s. He was also a controversial figure, accused of being a communist and a cheat.
8
Michelle Pfeiffer, 'Dangerous Minds'
Michelle Pfeiffer, 'Dangerous Minds'
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
While we all may associate Coolio (and 'Gangster's Paradise') with this movie, Michelle Pfeiffer was the real star of the 1995 film 'Dangerous Minds.' She played Louann Johnson (A.K.A. "White Bread"), a former marine whose toughness allowed her to connect with and learn from her high school students in the 'hood of Belmont, California.
9
Paula Patton, 'Precious'
Paula Patton, 'Precious'
Lionsgate via Everett Collection
Paula Patton played Ms. Rain in 'Precious,' Lee Daniels' adaptation of the novel 'Push.' She has a huge impact on the life of Precious, a previously illiterate student who learns to journal through a series of tragedies she experiences in '80s Harlem.
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10
Edward James Olmos, 'Stand and Deliver'
Edward James Olmos, 'Stand and Deliver'
Warner Bros. via Everett Collection
We all need teachers who believe in our abilities, like Edward James Olmos' character in 'Stand and Deliver.' Based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, the film follows a Bolivian educator who starts teaching his students in East L.A. advanced calculus.
11
Jack Black, 'School of Rock'
Jack Black, 'School of Rock'
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
We all wanted to rock with the coolest substitute music teacher ever: Jack Black as Dewy Finn in Richard Linklater's 'School of Rock.' He not only taught his students about music, but confidence and self-worth.
12
Embeth Davidtz, 'Matilda'
Embeth Davidtz, 'Matilda'
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
Embeth Davidtz melted our hearts as Miss Honey in 'Matilda.' She goes on adventures with her students, recognizes the gifted, and repeatedly rescues them from the one principal who still haunts our dreams: The Trunchbull.

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