Teaching is such a great profession that it’s not surprising many budding entertainers, writers, and historical figures once were educators. Some may make sense (JK Rowling), some may be unusual (Hugh Jackman) and some are baffling (Mr. T).
ThinkFives categorized these celebrity teachers and is happy to share our Top 5 affinity groups.
The Not So Surprising
JK Rowling had a great idea for a fictional series but needed to find a job to pay the rent, so she taught foreign language in Portugal for two years before returning to Edinburgh to teach there. That may be why the scenes of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry seem so real. They were written by an actual teacher.
With his books on many high school reading lists, it’s only fitting that the famed author of 1984 and Animal Farm George Orwell once taught. Before writing those classics, George Orwell took up a post as a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, a small school for boys with only 14 to 16 pupils in West London. While teaching, he wrote the school play. We wonder if the animals talked and sang?
The famous horror author of dozens of best sellers including Carrie, Stephen King taught English for two years at Hampden Academy in Maine. Teacher by day and short story writer by night, he stayed teaching until he got his first big break when Doubleday agreed to publish Carrie. Did anyone notice the name of the High School in Carrie was Bates High, a homage to Hitchcock’s Norman Bates. And the school’s mascot was a clown named Pennywise! JK.
The Funny Ones
Believe or not, Jon Hamm was a daycare teacher during college for three years. After college, he taught drama for a year at his alma mater, John Burroughs High School in St. Louis, Missouri. Fun fact: one of his students at Burroughs was actress Ellie Kemper. And now he guest stars on her show when he’s not serving pork and champagne at the restaurant he co-owns with a certain Canadian crooner, Hamm and Buble .
Before making a career as a stand up comedian, the Tony and Emmy Award-winning comedian, actor, producer, writer and director taught math and woodwork at Long Beach High School in New York. The star of When Harry Met Sally, was a per diem floater in the same junior high he attended. He taught everything from English to autoshop. “Did ya ever jam your foot in a hydraulic lift? That hurts!”
Well known for his role in the 1980’s TV series, “The A Team,” Mr. T was once a gym teacher in Chicago. While not a comedy, Mr. T had a lot of fun with the role and it propelled him into fame – and a pro wrestling career as well. Twice named “America’s Toughest Bouncer,” we’re sure his students followed his instructions. “Pity the fool who forgot their homework!”
The leader of the American Revolution and the 2nd U.S. president once was a schoolmaster in Worcester. According to writings, “as a teacher, Adams considered himself ill prepared for the daily routine, and even his students remarked how he would constantly be seen at his desk writing, taking little notice of his pupils. At times, Adams would drift off into a daydream and imagine his position to be more important than it actually was.” Luckily destiny soon followed and John Adams, as “obnoxious and disliked” as he was, would reach a position of true importance.
Lyndon Baines Johnson
The future 36th President of the United States also once taught. It was financial need that motivated LBJ to accept a position as a teacher at Welhausen School in Cotulla, Texas, a small town on the border of Texas and Mexico. LBJ quickly and enthusiastically began teaching and encouraging the children to speak English by holding speech and debate tournaments. His experience probably influenced his signing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and launching programs like Project Head Start.
Known as perhaps the most famous lawyer in US history, the attorney in the Scopes Monkey Trial started law school but dropped out to support his family. He taught in the winter at the district school in his community. While teaching, Clarence Darrow started to study the law on his own, and by the end of his third year of teaching, his family urged him to enter the law department at Ann Arbor. Thus, he naturally evolved from classroom teaching to legal legend.
The Music Teachers
Now a rock ‘n’ roll legend and still the front man for Kiss, Gene Simmons taught sixth grade in New York City’s upper West Side. But it turned out performing to 40 students was simply not enough. His goal instead was 40,000. And it’s hard to Rock and Roll all night and teach every day. That and the fact that he was probably a major violator of the teacher dress code.
Imagine if your music teacher was a Grammy-award winning musician. While she wasn’t at the time, she soon would be. Sheryl Crow got her start teaching music during the week and playing gigs on the weekend. But then she decided “all she wanted to do was have some fun” and make hit records, and teaching was left behind. But we’re sure the sing-alongs in her music class in an elementary school in St. Louis must have been great.
Known as Gordon Sumner before achieving success in the music world, the lead singer of The Police, ‘Sting,’ taught English at St Paul’s Middle School, Cramlington. That experience surely helped when he wrote the Police hit, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” about a teacher with a crush on a student half his age. And no cheating in his classroom, ”he’ll be watching you!”
Before Wolverine made it big, Hugh Jackman spent a year working as an English and PE teacher at a British boarding school. Although we don’t think he’s ever taught at Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, he would definitely have had the experience. I also wouldn’t have wanted to get on his bad side. SNIKT!
Liam and his two sisters were all teachers. The intense star of Taken taught at St. Mary’s in England, and it’s probably for the best that he moved on to a new career. According to Liam, he had to punch a 15-year-old student for pulling a knife on him during class. We’re not sure if that was a real story or a script for a new movie but either way, it’s definitely for the best that he’s an actor and not a teacher. He has a specific set of skills and teaching may not be among them.
Yes, Rocky was a teacher. The famous Hollywood actor well-known for roles such as Rocky and Rambo, Sylvester Stallone was once a gym teacher at the American College of Switzerland. We wonder if boxing was part of the PE curriculum? Too bad he and Mr. T didn’t teach at the same school. The students there could have had a real-life preview of Rocky III.
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You know other celebrities who once taught? Comment below.