Back to School with TV’s Favorite Teachers

By Paula Hendrickson

Teachers play a pivotal role in our lives, so it’s natural that teachers also play major roles on TV dramas and sitcoms. We found so many that we had to set parameters to narrow down this list: No animated series, so The Simpsons’ Mrs. Krabappel and South Park’s Mr. Garrison aren’t shown. No professors, either, so The Paper Chase’s much-feared Professor Kingsfield and How To Get Away With Murder’s Annalise Keating didn’t make the cut. Nor did one of the most notorious science teachers of all, Walter White, since he traded teaching for drug making early on in Breaking Bad. We also didn’t include occasional guest stars, like Sheldon’s teachers on Young Sheldon, for instance. But there are plenty more who made the grade.

 

  1. Miss Brooks, Our Miss Brooks (CBS, 1952-56)—This popular comedy, which focused on high school English teacher Connie Brooks (Eve Arden), made an easy transition from radio to television. Even when frazzled by her demanding principal, persnickety parents, or her perennial student, Walter, Miss Brooks always saved the day.
  2. Kotter, Welcome Back, Kotter (ABC, 1975-79)—When teacher Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) took a job at his former high school, he was assigned to teach the school’s worst group of students, academically and behaviorally, who were collectively known as the Sweathogs. A former Sweathog himself, Mr. Kotter—thanks in part to his unique brand of humor—connected with his students.
  3. Feeney (William Daniels), Boy Meets World (ABC, 1993-2000), and Mr. Matthews (Ben Savage) Girl Meets World (Disney Channel, 2014-17)—Middle school teacher Mr. Feeney imparted more than knowledge to his student Cory Matthews in the original series. He inspired Cory to become a middle school teacher. No wonder Mr. Feeney also appeared in several episode of Girl Meets World.
  4. Schuester (Matthew Morrison), Glee (Fox, 2009-2015)—Like Mr. Kotter, Will Schuester returned to teach at his former high school. A mediocre Spanish teacher at the start of the series, “Mr. Schue” revived his beloved glee club and turned a bunch of musical misfits into an award-winning show choir despite frequent attempts to thwart their success by rival show choirs and the school’s cheerleading coach.
  5. Miss Bliss (Hayley Mills), Good Morning, Miss Bliss (Disney Channel, 1988-89)—Before Zack, Screech and their pals were promoted to high school, they spent one season attending Kennedy Junior High, where Miss Bliss was the understanding teacher they turned to with their junior high problems. After the show was canceled, it was retooled as Saved By the Bell.
  6. Miss Grant (Debbie Allen) and Mr. Shorofsky (Albert Hague), Fame (NBC, 1982-83; syndication 1983-87)—The demanding-but-caring dance and music teachers at New York’s High School for the Performing Arts worked their students hard, trying to prepare them for the struggles of pursuing careers in the show business.
  7. Dixon (Lloyd Hanes), Miss McIntyre (Denise Nicholas), and Miss Johnson (Karen Valentine), Room 222 (ABC, 1969-1974)—Walt Whitman High School had the coolest faculty, from hip history teacher Mr. Dixon, to the compassionate school counselor Miss McIntyre, to the dorky-but-stylish new teacher Miss Johnson. No wonder kids usually showed up for school.
  8. Moore (Howard Hesseman, 1986-90) and Mr. MacGregor (Billy Connolly, 1990-91), Head of the Class (ABC, 1986-91)—Mr. Moore’s classroom filled with near-genius students—later led by Mr. MacGregor—needed less book-learning and more real-life lessons from their teachers. And they got it.
  9. Miss Ingalls, Little House On the Prairie (NBC, 1974-83) – Before the long-running series came to an end, little Laura Ingalls (Melissa Gilbert) had grown up to become a schoo teacher—much as the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder did.
  10. Vessey, Ed (NBC, 2000-04)—As many TV teachers tend to do, Carol Vessey (Julie Bowen), took a teaching job at her former high school. This time, the English teacher was also an aspiring writer who eventually fell for the titular character.
  11. Day, New Girl (Fox, 2011-2018)—Adorkable elementary school teacher Jess (Zooey Deschanel) might have had a crazy life outside the classroom, but she must have been good at her job since she eventually became a principal.
  12. Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 2005-2014)—Throughout most of the show’s run, Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) was a kindergarten teacher. She was a natural with kids, but once she had children of her own she must have needed more adult time since she became an art consultant in season eight.

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