Students always remember their favorite teachers, and conversely, their least favorite. Everyone had that mean substitute teacher from middle school, or the one school principal that never cracked a smile. While students should never have to fear their educators, these memories are universal. The best storytellers know how to make these memories entertaining, bringing terrifying teachers to life for a larger audience.
In the spirit of Halloween, TeacherTube and the ghost of pop culture’s past are bringing you some of the scariest and most memorable teachers in movies, books, and television series. When your students are complaining that their teacher is the worst, remind them how much worse it could be!
The creepy. The kooky. The all together spooky.
Substitute Teacher at The Horace B. Smedley School
Miss Viola Swamp, the tyrannical teacher from the series Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard and James Marshall, may be both the best and worst teacher a student could ask for. Miss Viola Swamp, the alter-ego of sweet grade school teacher Miss Nelson, is called upon to deal with the raucous and unmanageable students. She gets Miss Nelson’s students to behave, no doubt, but not without scaring the daylights out of them.
Science Teacher at J.P. Wynne High School
Walter Hartwell White, the former disillusioned science teacher in AMC’s critically-acclaimed series Breaking Bad, gives a whole new meaning to the title of chemistry teacher. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Mr. White joins forces with former student, and current meth dealer, Jesse Pinkman, and builds a methamphetamine empire to save up money for his wife and children. No spoilers, I’ll save the rest.
Principal & Head Mistress at Crunchem Hall Primary School
While Agatha Trunchbull is not necessarily a teacher, this villainous character from Roald Dahl’s Matilda is most certainly an evil educator. Misusing her power as principal to torment and bully her students through belittlement, embarrassment, and even corporal punishment, she creates an atmosphere that probably isn’t conducive to effective learning. One of her favorite methods of discipline is a crude device resembling an iron maiden that she calls “The Chokey,” where she locks students who have misbehaved.
Kindergarten Teacher at Astoria Elementary School
John Kimble is a Los Angeles Police Detective who must go undercover as a Kindergarten teacher to catch a wanted drug dealer who threatens Kimble’s ex-wife and son. Rough around the edges, Kimble uses unusual tactics to maintain order and discipline among his kindergarten class, but in the end discovers his love for teaching.
Dean of Students at Shermer High School
Aptly defined as “smug and vindictive,” Ed Rooney is the Dean of Students at Shermer High School. With growing animosity towards student and nemesis Ferris Bueller, Rooney goes so far as to break into Ferris’ house to uncover the truth behind his supposedly “sick” nemesis. However, karma (and the Bueller dog) get the best of him.
Professor, Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry
Don’t let her cheery demeanor, fluffy pink dresses, and timid laugh fool you: Professor Umbridge takes bad teaching to the extreme, as any student in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series would agree. Unadaptive and stubborn, she prefers to have students copy notes from textbooks as opposed to lecturing, and does not allow her students to actually practice any of the subject matter. Professor Umbridge is set in her ways, failing to account for individual students’ different learning methods, and labeling students rude or disruptive if they attempt to challenge her. To discipline students, she makes them write lines with a quill that magically scratches the words onto their hands as they write them.
Mr. Smith, the mysterious green villain from Bruce Coville’s My Teacher is an Alien; Morticia Addams, who in the film version of The Addams Family takes a job as a pre-K teacher and brings her students to tears with a morbid rendition of Hansel and Gretel; Mr. Strickland, the discipline officer of Hill Valley High in Back to the Future, who seems to have a grudge against the entire McFly family; Mrs. Tingle, a teacher so cruel that her own students take her hostage in the film Teaching Mrs. Tingle; and the faculty of Bailey School in Marcia Thornton Jones and Debbie Dadey’s children’s book series The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, each of whom seems to be some kind of monster, alien, or mythical creature.