10 Famous teachers their students won't forget
We all have that one teacher from our school years who we can’t forget, whether for all the right reasons or all the wrong ones. But what if the reason you couldn’t forget them was because they were splashed across newspapers, your TV screens, or even better, became the most powerful man on the planet? Without further ado, here are a few famous teachers their students certainly won’t forget!
1. Liam Neeson
He’s best known for playing a CIA dad on a mission in the Taken franchise, but in an interview with US journalists, Liam Neeson revealed that his action man antics aren’t limited to the big screen. The actor admitted that his teaching career came to an abrupt end after he punched a 15 year-old student who pulled a knife on him: “My reaction was to punch him, which I shouldn’t have done but I felt threatened.”
2. Barack Obama
Possibly a contender for the coolest of the famous teachers, Barack Obama spent 12 years teaching constitutional law and race theory courses at the University of Chicago Law School. In an interview with The Guardian, a former student Jesse Ruiz described Obama as thoughtful and hardworking, although it seems he was already practicing for being a president: “Some claimed he was a bit too diplomatic, and would sit on the fence with some issues.” If the pressures of teaching weren’t enough, Obama also served on the Illinois Senate at the time.
3. Gene Simmons
A man known for having a scary stage persona probably isn’t the first person that springs to mind when you think of a primary school teacher, but KISS frontman Gene Simmons was a sixth-grade teacher before his music career took off. Despite having quit when he realised that being the centre of attention was the only reason he had entered the profession, Simmons dusted off his teaching skills in the 2005 TV show Rock School, where he took a class of British schoolchildren and transformed them into mini rock musicians.
His songwriting talents may be legendary, but it turns out Sting was once just a weekend rockstar and a full time teacher. Back when he was still known as Mr Sumner, the musician taught English at a Catholic school in Newcastle. He clearly hasn’t forgotten the impact that teaching had on him though and since leaving the profession, Sting has been a vocal advocate of the importance of teachers to society.
5. Hugh Jackman
As gap year jobs go, teaching P.E at one of the UK’s most prestigious boarding schools is probably more than most of us would dream of, but that’s exactly how an 18-year-old Hugh Jackman spent his year abroad. The Australian’s unlikely past was revealed when he bumped into Rollo Ross, a former student of his now working as a journalist, at a red carpet event in London. The following day Ross tweeted: "That awkward moment when an A-lister remembers he taught you P.E. at school."
6. George Orwell
If there was an award for the wisest former teacher, surely George Orwell would have to win it. The author, known for works including the prophetic 1984 and insightful Down and Out in Paris and London, was a teacher in West London and Middlesex before leaving the profession due to ill health. Still making an impact on students years after his death, his rules for writing now adorn the walls of schools and universities all over the world. As it turns out, Orwell had some pretty inspiring teachers of his own too - his French teacher at Eton was none other than Aldous Huxley, who wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World.
7. Stephen King
The undisputed king of horror fiction, this bestselling author taught English at a high school in Maine. His big breakthrough as an author allowed him to quit the classroom for good, but that hasn't stopped him making the most of his gift for imparting knowledge. In 2012 he published On Writing, a guide for would-be writers that draws on his own experiences and has been described by GoodReads as "part memoir, part masterclass". One big question remains though: how many of his dark characters are based on his former students?
8. Greg Davies
Despite frequently deriding the 13 years he spent as a drama teacher in his stand-up material, Greg Davies was almost nominated by students for the prestigious Teacher of the Year award solely on the basis that we was funny and didn’t really make them do any work. Funnily enough, he declined to sign-off the application. As for his own opinion of his teaching skills, the comedian was philosophical in an interview with the Radio Times: “I was grossly incompetent, but I hope I didn’t do the children a disservice.” According to one former student, Davies is not exactly unlike Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners, which is just about the best thought ever.
9. Katherine Jenkins
The Welsh singer went from a music and singing teacher in a primary school to signing with Universal in the biggest record deal in classical music history. What’s perhaps even more surprising however, is the fact that she carried on teaching even after the release of the first album as she was too afraid it would fall through to quit. Twelve albums later and as one of the biggest classical music stars in the world, it’s safe to say she had nothing to worry about.
10. JK Rowling
JK Rowling may have been responsible for creating what are arguably the world's most famous teachers - the staff in the Harry Potter series - but the author herself taught English language in Portugal then French in Edinburgh. It was while teaching that she started work on the early Potter books, before finally swapping the classroom for a cafe as she turned her attention to writing full time. We can only hope she was as inspiring as the teacher who spent 70 hours turning his classroom into Hogwarts.
It’s fair to say that some of these famous faces sound like they were considerably more successful as educators than others, and if there's one lesson that many of them have taught us, it's that if at first you don't succeed then try something completely different. If that's not a good message to send to kids, then what is?