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As educators, we sometimes need a spark. One great place to find that inspiration is in movies. In Episode 234 of Class Dismissed, we highlight some of the most inspirational movie scenes for teachers.

The movie scenes that made our list include…

Stand and Deliver (Rotten Tomatoes Score 82%)

Los Angeles high school teacher Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos) is being hassled by tough students like Angel Guzman (Lou Diamond Phillips). But Jaime is also pressured by his bosses, who want him to control his raucous classroom. Caught in the middle, he opts to immerse his students in higher math.

In our highlighted scene, Escalante tries to convince his jaded colleagues that they need “ganas,” which translates to desire.

School of Rock (Rotten Tomatoes Score 91%)

Overly enthusiastic guitarist Dewey Finn (Jack Black) gets thrown out of his bar band and finds himself in desperate need of work. Posing as a substitute music teacher at an elite private elementary school, he exposes his students to the hard rock gods he idolizes and emulates — much to the consternation of the uptight principal (Joan Cusack).

In our highlighted scene, Finn discovers his students’ potential as musicians and his potential as a teacher.

Mr. Holland’s Opus (Rotten Tomatoes Score 75%)

Composer Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) believes that he’ll eventually write a transcendent piece of music, but in the meantime, he’s taken a job at an Oregon high school.

In our highlighted scene, Holland has a breakthrough with one of his struggling students.

Lean on me (Rotten Tomatoes Score 69%)

In this fact-based film, a New Jersey superintendent, Dr. Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume), watches helplessly as East Side High becomes the lowest-ranked school in the state. With nowhere else to turn, Dr. Napier enlists maverick ex-teacher Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) to take over as principal of the declining school.

In our highlighted scene, Clark catches some students in the bathroom and challenges them to recite the school song. Their response surprises the hard-nosed principal.

Remember the Titans (Rotten Tomatoes Score 73%)

In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas, each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday. And with such recognition comes powerful emotions. In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all-black school with an all-white school, the very foundation of football’s great tradition was put to the test.

In our highlighted scene, Coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, takes his players to a hallowed ground to prove a point.

Finding Forrester (Rotten Tomatoes Score 79%)

A unique relationship develops between an eccentric, reclusive novelist and a young, amazingly gifted scholar-athlete. After the novelist discovers that the young athlete is also an excellent writer and secretly takes him on as his protégé, they develop an unlikely friendship. As they learn more about each other, they learn more about themselves, and ultimately, with the help of his new mentor, the basketball star must choose the right path.


Dead Poets Society (Rotten Tomatoes Score 84%)

A new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school known for its ancient traditions and high standards. He uses unorthodox methods to reach out to his students, who face enormous pressures from their parents and the school.

In our highlighted scene, Keating explains to his students the importance of the arts and self-purpose.

You can listen to Episode 234 or any of our episodes of Class Dismissed on your favorite podcasting app or iTunes.

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