Top 14 Fictional Teachers on Television

Teachers on television may not represent the most realistic portrayal of the profession, but they leave a big mark on our lives, whether we’re impressionable kids or entertainment-seeking adults. As we kick off Teach For America’s 25th anniversary, TeacherPop is looking back, #TBT-style, at all the teachers who’ve inspired us on the small screen. Here are 14 of our favorite TV teachers and why we love them.

1. Mr. Bergstrom from “The Simpsons”

A substitute teacher voiced by Dustin Hoffman? It doesn’t get much sweeter. Mr. Bergstrom’s nerdy appeal had Lisa’s unwavering admiration, and ours, too.  Best quote:  “You are Lisa Simpson.”

2. Mr. Cooper from “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper”

A TGIF favorite for 90s kids, “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” starred Mark Curry as everybody’s favorite NBA star-turned-teacher. Mr. Cooper was a role model and mentor to his students—and an overall cool cat.

3. Ms. Taylor from “Friday Night Lights”

Tami Taylor isn’t a teacher (she’s a guidance counselor-turned Principal), but she is probably our favorite character on this list. Connie Britton made her extra badass with choice lines like, “there’s no weakness in forgiveness.”

4. Mr. Collins from “The Wonder Years”

Kevin Arnold’s algebra teacher, as played by Steven Gilborn, makes our heart ache with nostalgia. Mr. Collins was so kind, tutoring Kevin to help him progress in math. Plus, who can forget Kevin’s heartbreaking line, “Good job, Mr. Collins.”

5. Mr. Hightower from “The Steve Harvey Show”

A former funk star, played by Steve Harvey, goes back to school to teach high school music in Chicago; hilarity ensues. Mr. Hightower was compassionate and knew how to get down.

6. Ms. Vessey from “Ed”

Before she joined the big leagues with “Modern Family,” Julie Bowen played Ms. Vessey, a high school teacher, in “Ed.” Ms. Vessey always looked out for the underdog: like the time she fought to restore funding for the high school music program or when she encouraged a shy kid to ask his crush to the prom.

7. Mr. Katimski from “My So-Called Life”

Mr. Katimski was the teacher who went the extra mile. In the final episode of the short-lived series, he opened his home to Ricky, a gay student who was rejected by his family.

8. Lydia Grant from “Fame”

The iconic Lydia Grant, Debbie Allen’s hard-nosed dance instructor in “Fame,” pushed her students to be all they could be. Best quote:  “Fame costs. And right here is where you start paying…in sweat.”

9. Mr. Feeny from “Boy Meets World”

The wise Mr. Feeny, depicted by William Daniels, was always (and we mean, always) there to serve up some gems to Cory and the gang.

10. Mr. Pryzbylewski from “The Wire”

Hothead cop-turned awesome teacher, Jim True-Frost’s “Prez” gave the fourth season of “The Wire” its moral center.

11. Gordon Robinson from “Sesame Street”

There probably isn’t a person born after 1970 who doesn’t love Gordon Robinson. In addition to being a school teacher, he was the unofficial mayor of Sesame Street—and kept all those puppets in line.

12. Mr. Kotter from “Welcome Back, Kotter”

Vinne Barbarino and the Sweathogs could make any teacher throw up his hands. Not Mr. Kott-air. As played by Gabe Kaplan, Mr. Kotter related to his students with equal parts comedy and caring.

13. Mr. Moore from “Head of the Class”

Long before “O Captain, My Captain,” there was Mr. Moore, played by Howard Hesseman, who inspired his gifted students to look up from the books every once in a while.

14. Mr. Belding from “Saved By the Bell”

Annoying or beloved, depending on where you stand, Principal Belding stood tall for his school and could be counted on finding out “hey, hey, hey, hey, what is going on” with his students.

Did you know we’re celebrating Teach For America’s 25th anniversary in February 2016? Join us! Find out more about Teach For America’s 25th anniversary summit and how to register. And be sure to check out our weekly #ThrowbackThursday posts, leading up to the summit, on TeachForAmerica.org.