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Newsmax's List of the Best Films Commemorating Teachers


(Usman Ali/

By    |   Wednesday, 22 May 2024 09:57 AM EDT

We’ve all had that special teacher, principal, school nurse, or other school employee that we look fondly on. And May is a month dedicated to school. Not only are the last days of the school year generally held in May, but the month is dedicated to teachers, administration and staff. For example:

  • May 7, 2024, is National Teacher Appreciation Day
  • May 6 through May 10 this year is National Teacher Appreciation Week (The first full week of May)
  • May 1 is School Principals Day
  • April 29 through May 3 is School Nutrition Employees Week
  • May 8 is National School Nurse Day
  • May 19 to 25 is Classified School Employees Week (the third full week in May) for those who work at a school, district, or county office in a position that doesn’t require certification

The following films commemorate those teachers who went above the call of duty to give their students a good foundation in life during the period BW (Before "Woke").

Here they are, listed in alphabetical order.

"Coach Carter" (2005)

Athletic coaches can be inspirational too. In this film Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his old high school to coach the varsity basketball team. When his players’ grades suffer in the middle of the team’s phenomenal winning streak, he gets tough with them and locks the team out of the gym and shuts down their championship season. Although this draws criticism from both the players and their parents, he doesn’t budge, and is determined that they excel in class as well as on the court.

Film critic Nell Minow described "Coach Carter" as an "Engaging film with a terrific message" in his Common Sense Media review.

"Conrack" (1974)

This is a true story based on the book "The Water is Wide." Pat Conroy (Jon Voight), is an idealistic elementary-school teacher at a poor, isolated South Carolina island school of black students. When he arrives he finds the students lacking in both literacy and basic personal hygiene, and sets out to correct both.

The late legendary Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and praised it as "an undeniably tender film full of affecting moments, genuine tension, and much good will. It's also one of those rare film commodities: a nice family picture."

"Dead Poets Society" (1989)

In this film the late Robin Williams plays a maverick teacher at his old alma mater, a stodgy, upscale boys boarding school. He reaches out to his students to embolden them to achieve new heights of self-expression using unorthodox methods.

"'Dead Poets Society'" is a beautiful and timeless coming-of-age story led by a transformative performance from Robin Williams," said the Keith Loves Movies review. "We all need inspiration at some points in our lives, we all need support and stimulus, and 'Dead Poets Society' is a film that does exactly that. It’s not easy finding a film that empowers us to change and to move, to take action and go after what we want, find our voice and speak our minds, but 'O Captain My Captain' does, and that makes 'Dead Poets Society’ a truly transformative experience."

"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1939)

In a series of flashbacks, Charles Edward Chipping recalls events in his more than half-century as a teacher and headmaster at Brookfield boarding school for boys. His initial facade as a strict disciplinarian is later softened after meeting a young suffragette, and "Mr. Chips," as he’s affectionately called, soon becomes the most beloved figure on campus.

"One of the most fondly remembered classics from cinema’s Golden Age, Sam Wood’s 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips' examines a life well lived in a low-key, rather leisurely way making its narrative points and etching its characters so subtly that its sentiment, humor, and nostalgia are as natural as breathing," wrote Matt Hough, for Home Theater Forum. "A character-based classic of the Golden Age, Sam Wood’s ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips' remains a spellbinding and most enjoyable motion picture."

"Good Will Hunting" (1997)

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a parolee and janitor at MIT, whose genius is discovered when he solves a difficult graduate-level math problem. After the math professor takes hum under his wing, Hunting gets into trouble again. In a deal brokered by the math professor, Hunting agrees to attend regular therapy sessions in exchange for leniency. His therapist (Robin Williams) draws Hunting out of his shell so that he can finally realize his full potential.

"The headline story from this slice of honestly earned sentiment is Matt Damon, who delivers the year's No. 1 breakthrough performance directly atop his agreeable high-profile turn in 'John Grisham's The Rainmaker' — both after a career of nearly a decade's duration," wrote Mike Clark, for USA Today. "Damon convincingly matches Williams recrimination for recrimination in this portrayal of mutual tough love, even with the latter giving what may be the best performance of his career."

"The Great Debaters" (2007)

In 1935 a professor (Denzel Washington) sets out to start a championship debate team at the small, predominately black Texas college where he teaches. Despite the pushback he receives from even the influential father (Forest Whitaker) of his best debater, he charges ahead undeterred. He and his team are rewarded for their efforts when his lowly Wiley College debates the prestigious Harvard Debate team.

"It’s an inspirational tale of triumph over adversity that plays the debate competition like an underdog sports movie, complete with the cheering crowds celebrating each win, and the plotting of their road to victory is too neatly designed," wrote Sean Axmaker for Stream On Demand. "But outside the debate halls awaits the Jim Crow South of segregation and aggressive racism, where a drive to a debate lands the team in the midst of a lynching, and Washington brings that reality into harrowing focus."

"The Miracle Worker" (1962)

This is another fact-based film, this time about Helen Keller (Patty Duke) and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, (Anne Bancroft), who truly was a "Miracle Worker."

Keller was left blind and deaf as the result of an elevated fever when she was 19 months old. After other attempts to reach Helen had failed, her parents finally settled on Sullivan, who taught at a school for the blind. Although Keller was initially resistant, the two eventually formed a bond. Keller eventually went on to graduate from college and become an author, lecturer and activist. "The Miracle Worker" was released six years before Keller’s death at age 87.

"The centerpiece is a one-room, nine-minute war of attrition, as a tutor (Anne Bancroft) imposes table manners on her feral charge (Patty Duke)," wrote Nick Pinkerton for The Village Voice. "It's a heaving, shin-cracking donnybrook, done with complete commitment."

"Mr. Holland’s Opus" (1995)

Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) takes a "temporary" job as a teacher at an Oregon high school to tide him over until he can do what he was really meant to do — write a beautiful opus.

His unconventional teaching style collides with his straight-laced vice principal (William H. Macy), but the two work things out while Holland settles into the job he despises. Decades later he discovers he loves teaching at his “temporary” position.

"A feel-good story brought to life by a terrific ensemble cast," was the critics’ consensus, according to Rotten Tomatoes. "'Mr. Holland's Opus' plucks the heartstrings without shame — and with undeniable skill."

"Stand and Deliver" (1988)

Inner city Los Angeles high school teacher Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos) feels caught in the middle between the administration’s demands that he control his classes, and his gang-influenced students like Angel Guzman (Lou Diamond Phillips). He eventually is able to get them interested in higher math — so much so that he has them compete in an all-state calculus exam.

They win the competition, but are forced to re-take the exam when higher-ups question the results.

"I won't tell the end, I'll just say this is a wonderful movie," said Chris Chase, reviewing for New York Daily News. "Olmos is superb, funny, strong; Lou Diamond Phillips makes a terrific wise-guy student But then, everybody's terrific. You come away feeling cheered and hopeful."

"To Sir, With Love" (1967)

American Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) accepts a position as a teacher at a rough East End London school when he can’t find an engineering position — his actual profession. The school is mainly filled with troublemaking students — most of whom were rejected by other schools for behavioral issues.

He eventually earns the respect of his charges, through his calm demeanor and his desire to see them do well.

The Critics Consensus is that "While it's a bit dated and overly schmaltzy, 'To Sir, With Love' remains compelling because of Sidney Poitier's outstanding performance  — and the catchy theme song is a classic," according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The following films commemorate those teachers who went above the call of duty to give their students a good foundation in life during the period BW (Before "Woke").
Wednesday, 22 May 2024 09:57 AM
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