By Teachers, For Teachers
They might not be teachers anymore, but these noteworthy names used to be in the teaching profession. Can you imagine trying to convince people that you once had one of these famous people as your teacher?
Before the master of terror published his first novel, “Carrie,” he taught English at Hampden Academy in Maine. He had written short stories and articles before, but used his teaching profession certification to hold him over while trying to launch his writing career. Good thing he didn’t get too bogged down with grading papers and crafting lesson plans to draft some of our favorite modern horror novels!
Born as Chaim Witz in 1949 in Israel, this rock god immigrated to New York with his Holocaust-survivor mother at the age of 8. While he practiced his guitar day in and day out and formed multiple rock bands in his youth, he eventually worked a series of odd jobs as a young man before finally hitting it big with his rock band KISS. And one of those odd jobs was teaching 6th grade in New York’s upper west side! Can you imagine the singer of “I want to rock and roll all night and party everyday!” helping children to focus on their studies?
This funny teacher audition scene from College Humor belies the fact that Hugh Jackman – better known to us as Wolverine from the popular “X-Men” films – spent some time leading the classroom. Back in 1987, between graduating high school and beginning college, Jackman worked in Uppingham School in England as a gym teacher for one year. It turned out that almost 30 years, later Jackman ran into a former student, now a journalist, at a German awards festival and remembered his student right away!
While trying to get his film career off the ground, Sly Stallone spent time as a gym teacher in Switzerland. Can you imagine Rocky Balboa training you? Also interesting to note is that Mr. T, Rocky’s nemesis in “Rocky III,” was also a former gym teacher.
As a young Sting – known then as Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner – pursued his musical career by working local gigs, he worked as a teacher for two years at St. Paul’s First School in England. Of course, we hope his band’s hit “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” that features the lyrics, “Young teacher, the subject, of schoolgirl fantasies” is pure fiction!
Although typically silent on stage, this magician of the famed duo Penn and Teller once taught English and Latin at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, N.J. Can you imagine your teacher creating engaging activities based on their talent for magic tricks? I’d be hooked!
Sheriff Andy Taylor from “The Andy Griffith Show” had a knack for sharing insights of wisdom with folks all around Mayberry. But in real life, after graduating from the University of North Carolina with a degree in music, Griffith taught music and drama for several years at Goldsboro High School.
Johnson is known for his contributions to education as President of the United States, such as signing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1964) and the Higher Education Act (1965). But his background with public education plays a key role in his later presidential actions. He owes his own climb out of poverty to the public education he received. And he also spent time teaching in three separate schools – Welhausen School, Pearsall High School, and Sam Houston High School. There, the future president encountered firsthand how “The door to knowledge remained closed” to many Americans due to their poverty.
Bill O’Reilly is known as an intelligent, articulate, and conservative media personality and host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the FOX network. It would definitely have been an interesting experience to be one of O’Reilly’s students in Miami’s Monsignor Pace High School. O’Reilly taught English and history to high school students there for two years before returning to school himself and pursuing his career in the media.
Tony Danza wrote the book “I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I’ve Ever Had” in 2012, cataloguing some of his experiences co-teaching a 10-grade English class at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. Unlike other celebrities on this list, Danza didn’t teach to support himself before his film career took off. He taught during the 2009-2010 school year for an A&E reality show called “Teach: Tony Danza.”
What other celebrities have spent time in the teaching profession? Add to our list in the comments below!
Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website www.jordancatapano.us.