“Will [insert name] please report to the principal’s office.” This announcement, broadcast live throughout the entire school, still sends shivers down the spines of most adults.
We now know that most principals are not to be feared. Principals hold a crucial role in our education system, whether in real life or fiction. From inspiring real-life educators to unforgettable fictional characters, principals have made their mark in the world of education.
ThinkFives (admittedly with the help of ChatGPT) thought it would be great to explore our culture and identify the many memorable principals in TV, movie, and literature. On this list, we’ll explore the world of famous principals, highlighting those who have left a lasting impression on us. From the stern but fair principal Joe Clark in “Lean on Me” to the kind and compassionate Mr. Feeny in “Boy Meets World,” we’ll dive into the world of iconic fictional principals.
We’ll also take a look at real-life principals, including former US President Barack Obama, and how they have made a difference in the lives of students. Let’s see our Top 5 lists.
Principal Skinner – The Simpsons – Competent and dedicated principal of Springfield Elementary School. Fun Fact 1: His real name is Armin Tamzarian. Fun Fact 2: He served in the Vietnam War with Homer Simpson.
Principal Celestia – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – Wise and regal principal of Canterlot High School, a school for magical beings. Fun Fact 1: She is a princess and one of the rulers of Equestria. Fun Fact 2: She possesses powerful magical abilities.
Principal Waternoose – Monsters, Inc. – Serious and authoritative principal of Monsters University, a school for monsters. Fun Fact 1: He is the main antagonist of the first Monsters, Inc. film. Fun Fact 2: He is voiced by James Coburn.
Principal Perry – Phineas and Ferb – Strict and by-the-book principal of Danville High School, where the show’s main characters attend. Fun Fact 1: His full name is Francis “Frank” Flynn-Fletcher. Fun Fact 2: He is the stepfather of the show’s protagonist, Phineas Flynn.
Principal Lewis – American Dad! – Incompetent and often drunk principal of Pearl Bailey High School. Fun Fact 1: He is voiced by actor Kevin Michael Richardson. Fun Fact 2: He frequently makes poor decisions, such as allowing students to have guns in school.
Mr. Belding – Saved by the Bell – Friendly and well-meaning principal of Bayside High School. Fun Fact 1: His first name is Richard. Fun Fact 2: He appeared in every episode of the original series.
Principal Figgins – Glee – Incompetent and easily manipulated principal of McKinley High School. Fun Fact 1: He has a habit of singing everything he says. Fun Fact 2: He is frequently oblivious to the goings-on at the school.
Principal Snyder – Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Strict and authoritarian principal of Sunnydale High School. Fun Fact 1: He frequently butts heads with Buffy and her friends. Fun Fact 2: He is eventually eaten by a giant snake monster.
Principal Hodgins – Community – Eccentric and unpredictable principal of Greendale Community College. Fun Fact 1: He is often seen wearing strange outfits and accessories. Fun Fact 2: He is played by actor John Goodman.
Principal Michael Woodman – Mr. Woodman, the principal of the James Buchanan High School, was often portrayed as a strict and stern authority figure, but occasionally showed support for Mr. Kotter. Fun Fact 1: He was known for his signature catchphrase, “Sit on it!” to admonish students. Fun Fact 2: He was a former athlete who had once played football for the school.
Principal Vernon – The Breakfast Club – Strict and authoritarian principal of Shermer High School. Fun Fact 1: He is played by actor Paul Gleason, who also appeared in Die Hard. Fun Fact 2: He frequently butts heads with the rebellious students in detention.
Principal Joe Clark – Lean on Me – Tough and no-nonsense principal of Eastside High School. Fun Fact 1: He is based on a real-life principal of the same name who turned around a struggling school. Fun Fact 2: He is played by actor Morgan Freeman.
Principal Rooney – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Bumbling and inept principal of Shermer High School. Fun Fact 1: He is obsessed with catching Ferris Bueller skipping school. Fun Fact 2: He has a memorable confrontation with Ferris’s sister, played by Jennifer Grey.
Principal Togar – Rock ‘n’ Roll High School – Strict and domineering principal of Vince Lombardi High School. Fun Fact 1: She is played by actress Mary Woronov. Fun Fact 2: She is obsessed with stamping out rock music and counterculture.
Principal Rosalie “Roz” Mullins – School of Rock – Initially uptight and by-the-book principal of Horace Green Prep School. Fun Fact 1: She is played by actress Joan Cusack. Fun Fact 2: She becomes a passionate advocate for her students’ musical talents.
Albus Dumbledore – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Wise and kind headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Fun Fact 1: He is considered one of the greatest wizards of all time. Fun Fact 2: He serves as a mentor and father figure to the main character, Harry Potter.
Principal Matsui – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Progressive and supportive principal of a high school in the 1980s. Fun Fact 1: He encourages his students to think for themselves and challenge authority. Fun Fact 2: He is one of the few adults who supports Eleanor, a poor and abused student.
Miss Trunchbull – Matilda by Roald Dahl – Cruel and abusive headmistress of Crunchem Hall Primary School. Fun Fact 1: She is notorious for her harsh punishments and disdain for children. Fun Fact 2: She is ultimately defeated by the book’s titular character, Matilda, who uses her telekinetic powers to exact revenge.
Mr. Golightly – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – Distant and bureaucratic headmaster of Pencey Prep. Fun Fact 1: He is one of the many adults in the book whom the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, dislikes. Fun Fact 2: He is largely absent from the story, only appearing briefly at the beginning and end.
Mr. Hector – The History Boys by Alan Bennett – Eccentric and passionate teacher of history at a British grammar school. Fun Fact 1: He is known for his unorthodox teaching methods and obsession with poetry. Fun Fact 2: He forms a close relationship with one of his students, causing controversy and drama
Real Principals, Famous People
We thought we would finish this list of famous principals by reversing the question. How about famous people who have been principals and probably nobody knows?
Barack Obama – Former President of the United States and former principal of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Fun Fact 1: He is the first Black president of the United States. Fun Fact 2: He worked as a community organizer in Chicago before entering politics.
Jill Biden – Current First Lady of the United States and former high school English teacher and principal. Fun Fact 1: She holds a doctorate in education. Fun Fact 2: She continues to teach at a community college while serving as First Lady.
John Quincy Adams – Former President of the United States and former principal of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Fun Fact 1: He is the son of former President John Adams. Fun Fact 2: He was known for his diplomatic skills and served as a diplomat to several European countries before becoming president.
Bill Cosby – Comedian and former high school physical education teacher and principal. Fun Fact 1: He is best known for his comedy series “The Cosby Show.” Disturbing Fact 2: He has been the subject of numerous allegations of sexual assault.
David Robinson – Former professional basketball player and founder of The Carver Academy, a private school in San Antonio, Texas. Fun Fact 1: He won two NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs. Fun Fact 2: He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Do you have a favorite principal from movies, TV, or books?