Browse Adzuna Blog »

100 Teachers That Changed The World

Every teacher has a huge impact on the students that come through their doors each morning, but the very best have an impact that goes far beyond their classroom.

To celebrate International Teacher’s Day, we’ve put together a list of extraordinary teachers that have changed the world (or at least their little part of it).

Some are household names – others barely recogniseable. They come from home and abroad; the past and present. One thing they have in common is that they all changed the world – or their little part of it at least.

Jump to:

Science, Maths and Engineering

  • Steve Wozniak
  • Salman Amin Khan
  • Leonard Euler
  • Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez
  • Muhammad Abdul Bari
  • Elsa Salazar Cade
  • Colin Hegarty
  • Toru Kumon
  • Tatyana Velikanova
  • Leonhard Euler
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Saya the robot

1. Steve Wozniak

1950-Present, American

Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Jobs in 1976. Wozniak was the creator of Apple 1 the computer that launched Apple. He was introduced to Jobs in 1971 by a friend who saw that they both had a passion for electronics and pranks. Wozniak left Apple in 1985 and spent some time teaching computer classes to elementary school students something he had always wanted to do.

2. Salman Amin Khan

1976-Present, American

Founder of the Khan Academy Salman Amin Khan presides over an organization and free online education platform that teaches a wide range of academic subjects. His teaching career began in 2003 when he began by tutoring his cousin over the internet in Maths. The lessons were so successful that other relatives started asking for help. His youtube videos have now been viewed more than 1.2 billion times. In 2012 he was voted by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.3.

3. Leonhard Euler

1707-1783, Swiss

Scholar and physicist and scholar Leonard Euler is renowned for developing many of today’s mathematical concepts such as Pi. He spent time as a professor of Physics in St Petersburg Russia before moving to become head of the Mathematics division. In his 30’s he was director of Mathematics at Berlin Academy of Science and Beaux Arts and went on to become the Academy Head.

4. Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez

1930-2010, Bolivian

Before emigrating to the USA Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez taught Mathematics and Physics in Bolivian schools for 12 years. After arriving in the USA he taught himself English and took a number of jobs to fund his way through college before he was able to return to the classroom. Escalante taught Calculus in Los Angeles, California for 17 years. He was the subject of a book ‘Escalante, The Best Teacher in America’ and a 1988 film called Stand and Deliver. There is also an asteroid named after him.

5. Muhammad Abdul Bari

1953-Present, Bangladeshi

Muhammad Abdul Bari, MBE was born in Bangladesh and is a writer, teacher, physicist and community leader. He has been named one of the most influential Asian Muslims in Western Europe. Early in his career, he spent five years teaching science at a secondary school in Haringey, London. After this, he worked as the Special Needs Advisor for Tower Hamlets Education Authority.

6. Elsa Salazar Cade

1952-Present, Mexican

Elsa Salazar Cade was chosen as one of the top ten Science teachers in the USA In 1995. Along with her husband Dr. William H. Cade she has won praise for her 30 years of work as an entomologist specialising on the behaviour of the Texas field cricket. The Cade’s are also well-known philanthropists.

7. Colin Hegarty

1981-Present, British

Global teacher prize finalist Colin Hegarty says that there is no such thing as being bad at Maths. He believes that with the right tuition and support any student can succeed. He teaches 11 to 18-year-olds in a London secondary school and the 1,500 mathematics videos on his website have been viewed 5m times across 224 territories. He was awarded 2015 teacher of the year prize in the UK.

8. Toru Kumon

1914-1995, Japanese

The internationally known Kumon Maths Method was developed by Toru Kumon a Japanese Maths Professor. Kumon began his career teaching High School Maths in his hometown. In the 1950’s disappointed by his son’s school maths tuition Kumon began to hand write worksheets for him each day at home. By the time his son was in year six his Maths was at the level of a student nearing the end of their high school years.

9. Tatyana Velikanova

1932-2002, Russian

Tatyana Velikanova was a Mathematician and Human Rights Campaigner in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Until 1957 she worked as a Maths teacher in the Urals. After moving to Moscow along with others she began to campaign for human rights in the USSR. As a result of her ‘anti-soviet activity’, she was exiled and imprisoned for nearly nine years in a prison camp. On her release in 1988, she returned to teaching Maths and Russian language and literature in Moscow.

10. Alexander Graham Bell

1847-1922, Canadian

Edinburgh born Scientist, inventor and engineer Alexander Graham Bell’s most famous invention was the first working telephone in 1885. He went on to found the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) the same year. Bell had been born into a family who all worked in the field of elocution and speech and had a mother and wife who were both profoundly deaf. At 16 years old Bell’s first job was as a “pupil-teacher” of elocution and music.

11. Saya the robot

2004, Japanese

Created in 2004 by Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi, Saya is the first humanoid robot teacher. Saya demonstrated her skills as a Science and Technology teacher for ten-year-olds in Tokyo. Kobayashi hopes that whilst enabling children to enjoy learning technology robots like Saya could also be useful in schools that had a teacher shortage.

Return to start

Politics and Activism

  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Golda Meir
  • Hanan Al Hroub
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Kakenya Ntaiya
  • Laura Esquivel
  • Prudence Crandall
  • Lyndon B Johnson
  • Zitkála-Šá
  • Justin Trudeau

12. Eleanor Roosevelt

1884-1962, American

Born in the USA and educated in England Eleanor Roosevelt was the wife of 32nd President of the USA Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the age of 43, she joined two of her friends to buy a finishing school in New York called the Todhunter School for Girls. She taught American Literature and History continuing to teach part-time whilst her husband was Governor of New York. She left teaching when she became the first lady in 1933.

13. Golda Meir

1898-1978, Ukrainian/Israeli

Ukrainian Jew Golda Meir was born in Kiev and arrived in the USA with her family aged 8. She graduated as a teacher in 1916 and began teaching in Milwaukee public schools. In 1921 she left the USA to join a kibbutz in Palestine with Morris Meyerson who later became her husband. Involved in politics throughout her life she became Israel’s first woman Prime Minister at the age of 70 in 1969.

14. Hanan Al Hroub

1972-Present, Lebanese

Hanah Al Hroub was the recipient of the Global Teacher Prize in 2016. Al Hroub grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp. She decided to pursue a career in teaching after her children were deeply upset by a shooting they witnessed on their way to school. She uses a play based teaching approach to reach out to children who have been affected by violence. Al Hroub wrote about her approach in her book ‘We Play we Learn’.

15. Booker T. Washington

1856-1915, American

Booker T Washington was born into slavery on a plantation in Southwest Virginia. He worked in as a salt miner to pay for his education. In 1881 he raised money to buy a former plantation in Alabama and started a college now known as Tuskegee University. This was the first of many teachers colleges he opened. Washington went onto to become a national leader and spokesperson for African Americans.

16. Kakenya Ntaiya

1978-Present, Kenyan

Kakenya Ntaiya grew up a Maasai in a mud hut with no running water and electricity. In keeping with tradition, the expectation was that she would marry around the age of fifteen and start a family. After Ntaiya graduated from high school she persuaded the village elders to let her attend college in the USA. She returned after her doctorate in education and built Kakenya’s Center for Excellence (KCE). This school supports and educates vulnerable girls in the local community.17. 17

17. Laura Esquivel

1950-Present, Mexican

Laura Esquivel was born in Mexico city and first started writing plays for children whilst working as a kindergarten teacher. She went on to write a number of best-selling novels including ‘Como Agua Para Chocolate’ ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ which was made into a film in 1994. Esquivel is currently serving as a politician in the Chamber of Deputies for Mexico’s Morena Party.

18. Prudence Crandall

1803-1890, American

Prudence Crandall opened a girls boarding school in Connecticut in 1831 with her sister Almira. After they admitted a free African American student many white families removed their children from their school. Crandall temporarily closed the school and then reopened it and openly recruited students of colour. She went on to devote herself to the education of African American students despite ongoing objections and criticism.

19. Lyndon B Johnson

1908-1973, American

36th President of the USA Lyndon B Johnson was born in a small farmhouse in Texas and was involved in politics from an early age. During his college years, he took a break of nine months to teach in a school for segregated Mexican American Children. After graduating in 1930 he first taught at Pearsall High School and later worked as a teacher of Public Speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston. Five years later he became head of the Texas National Youth Administration where he worked to improve education and create jobs for young people.

20. Zitkála-Šá

1876-1938, American Lakota Sioux

Zitkála-Šá which translates as Red Bird lived until the age of 8 on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota. After graduating college she taught music at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. An accomplished writer and musician Zitkála-Šá wrote a number of books and musical scores. She was also involved in civil rights campaigning for better access to health care and education for Native Americans.

21. Justin Trudeau

1971-Present, Canadian

Justin Trudeau is the son of the 15th Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau and was born whilst his father was in office. After graduating in Education from the University of British Columbia he became a teacher of Maths, French, Drama, and Humanities in an Elementary School in Vancouver. Involved in the Canadian Liberal party from an early age Trudeau became its leader in 2013 and won the election to become Prime Minister of a majority government in 2014.

Return to start

Literature & Language

  • George Orwell
  • Michael Morpurgo
  • Gabriela Mistral
  • Michel Thomas
  • Osamu Hayashi
  • Pierre de Villiers Pienaar
  • Richard Eng
  • Sylvia Ashton Warner
  • Savitribai Phule
  • William Golding

22. George Orwell

1903-1950, British

Famous for novels such as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in India in 1903. He first worked as a tutor in 1930 to a disabled boy and then to three young brothers. In 1932 he took a job as a teacher at a small private boys school called The Hawthorns High School in Hayes West London. He left in 1933 to take up his last teaching post at Frays College, in Uxbridge, Middlesex.

23. Michael Morpurgo

1943-Present, British

Children’s Laureate, author, poet, and playwright Michael Morpurgo taught in a primary school in Kent and briefly at St Faiths School in Cambridge before beginning his writing career. He has since won many awards and is best known for his children’s books ‘The Butterfly Lion’ and ‘War Horse’ which was recently made into a film.

24. Gabriela Mistral

1889-1957, Chilean

Gabriela Mistral was the daughter of a school teacher who abandoned the family when Gabriela was three. She began her own teaching career to help support the family at the age of fifteen. She became famous as the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature. Her portrait also appears on Chile’s 5,000 Chilean peso banknote.

25. Michel Thomas

1914-Present, Polish

Polyglot Linguist Michel Thomas was born Moniek Kroskof in Łódź, Poland, to a wealthy Jewish family. He emigrated to the USA after the Second World War and opened a language school In Beverley Hills called The Polyglot Institute. Teaching a method called the Michel Thomas Method he claimed students could become conversationally proficient in a language after just a few days tuition. In 1997 he spent five days teaching French to English sixth formers as part of a BBC Science documentary called ‘The Language Master’.

26. Osamu Hayashi

1965-Present, Japanese

Japanese teacher Osamu Hayashi is a full-time lecturer at Toshin High School Satellite Prep School of Language Arts where he teaches modern languages. He is also a media personality known as a ‘Tarento’ meaning famous for being famous. He is represented by Watanabe Entertainment. He was GQ man of the year in 2013.

27. Pierre de Villiers Pienaar

1904-1978, South African

Born in South Africa Pierre de Villiers Pienaar gained his BA in education in 1925 and then went on to research phonetics and linguistics leading to a PhD from the University of Hamburg. On his return to South Africa, he taught at several schools between 1926 and 1927. He left to lecture at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg. later he began to specialise in Audiology and Lexicography. He is remembered for pioneering Speech-Language Therapy in South Africa.

28. Richard Eng

1964-Present, Hong Konger

Richard Eng was the first of the new wave of celebrity tutors in Hong Kong. Private tutoring is a massive growth industry in Asia and in Hong Kong with over 70% of children having one. Eng first got the idea of marketing himself after he appeared in photos with his sister who is a performance artist. Dressed like celebrities and wearing designer clothes teachers like Eng enjoy movie star like status amongst their teenage students.

29. Sylvia Ashton Warner

1908-1984, New Zealander

Novelist and educator Sylvia Ashton Warner spent a number of years teaching Maori children in her native New Zealand. Her innovative teaching approach led to the Faculty of Education Library at the University of Auckland being named after her. She was awarded an MBE in 1982 for services to Education and Literature.

30. Savitribai Phule

1831-1897, Indian

Poet and social reformer Savitribai Phule played an important role in improving the rights of Indian women during the time of British rule. Phule was married at nine years old. Together with her husband, she founded the first Indian run school for girls in Pune in 1848. She opened a clinic to treat victims of the bubonic plague in early 1897 contracted the disease and died that Spring. After her death, two books of her poems were published.

31. William Golding

1911-1993, British

Novelist William Golding is best known for his book Lord of the Flies. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 and the Booker Prize in 1980. Early in his career, he taught Philosophy and English at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury in Wiltshire. He returned there in 1945 and was employed as an English teacher until 1961.

Return to start


  • Dr. Brian May
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Art Garfunkel
  • Roberta Flack
  • Sathyan
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Sting
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Dawn French

32. Dr. Brian May

1947-Present, British

Best known as a founder member and the lead guitarist of the rock group Queen songwriter and singer Brian May also has a doctorate in astrophysics. In the early 1970’s he spent some time as a maths teacher at Stockwell Manor School in Brixton London. May received a CBE in in 2005 for services to the music industry and for charity work.

33. Sheryl Crow

1962-Present, American

Singer-songwriter and actress Sheryl Crow started her career as a music teacher in an elementary school in St Louis. At the weekends she sang with local bands and also recorded songs for advertising jingles. After this Crow worked as a backing singer for a number of well-known stars such as Michael Jackson. She went on enjoy success on her own as a solo artist and actress.

34. Art Garfunkel

1941-Present, American

Art Garfunkel is best known as half of the folk Rock duo Simon and Garfunkel. He was awarded an MA in Mathematics and was close to gaining a doctorate in the subject when Simon and Garfunkel first became successful. Garfunkel was working as a Maths teacher in a preparatory school in Connecticut when “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was released.

35. Roberta Flack

1939-Present, American

Grammy award-winning singer and musician Roberta Flack was raised in Arlington Virginia and began singing and studying piano whilst at school. In her early teens, she won a music scholarship and was the youngest music graduate of Howard University at 15 years old. She began her career as an English and Music teacher singing and playing music in evenings and at weekends in nightspots around Washington DC.

36. Sathyan

1912-1971, Indian

Indian film actor Manuel Sathyaneshan Nadar had a variety of jobs before settling on his career as an actor. One of these was as a teacher at St Joseph’s School in Trivandrum. He was known by his stage name Sathyan and considered a superstar in Malayalam cinema. He was awarded two inaugural Kerala State Film Awards for best actor and has Memorial Art Gallery named after him in Thiruvananthapuram.

37. Oprah Winfrey

1954-Present, American

Oprah Winfrey is best known for her talk show Oprah Winfrey which ran from 1986 to 2011 and was syndicated throughout the world. Winfrey is America’s first black multi-billionaire and its best-known black philanthropist. Winfrey set up the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007. The school now has 450 pupils and Winfrey teaches a class at the school via satellite.

38. Hugh Jackman

1968-Present, Australian

After graduating from school the actor Hugh Jackman spent a gap year as a PE teacher at Uppingham School in the UK. He is best known for playing the part of Wolverine in the long running X-men series and received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his part in Les Miserables.

39. Sting

1951-Present, British

Gordon Sumner, also known as Sting, is most famous for his solo musical career and also as a member of the rock band The Police. After leaving school he did a variety of jobs before training to be a teacher at Northern Counties College of Education (now Northumbria University). He then spent two years teaching English at St Paul’s First School in Cramlington.

40. Sylvester Stallone

1946-Present, American

During the 1960’s Sylvester Stallone attended the American College in Switzerland. Whilst there he had a part-time job as a gym teacher to earn extra money. Stallone went on to star in and write screenplays for a number of highly successful Hollywood Movies. He was nominated for two academy awards for writing the screenplay for and starring in the film ‘Rocky’ in 1977.

41. Dawn French

1957-Present, British

British comedienne and writer Dawn French is best known for writing and starring in award-winning television series such as French and Saunders and the Vicar of Dibley. At the beginning of her career, French worked in a London secondary school as a teacher of English and Drama. In the evenings she appeared on stage at the Comedy Strip Club prior to her television debut in 1982 in The Comedy Strip Presents ‘Five Go Mad in Dorset’.

Return to start

Early Years

  • Diana, Princess of Wales
  • David P. Weikart
  • Susan Sutherland Isaacs
  • Margaret McMillan
  • Loris Malaguzzi
  • Adolph Douai
  • Lucy Sprague Mitchell
  • Margaret Caldwell Donaldson
  • Vivian Paley
  • Maria Montessori

42. Princess Diana of Wales

1961-1997, British

Princess Diana was the first wife of The Prince of Wales and the mother of Princes William and Harry. She was tragically killed in a car accident in Paris at the age of 36. After leaving school the young Lady Diana Spencer worked as a nanny, a playgroup assistant and as a Montessori teacher’s assistant. Noted for her compassion, was involved with a number of charitable causes.

43. David P. Weikart

1931-2003, American

David Weikart was the psychologist famous for developing the High Scope Curriculum for early years children. He began his career as a school psychologist. and went on to create the Perry Preschool Project with a team of elementary education leaders. This project was developed to study the causes of underachievement in children from low-income households. This research led to the creation of the Highscope Curriculum which was also inspired by the work of Jean Piaget, John Dewey, and Lev Vygotsky.

44. Susan Sutherland Isaacs

1885-1948, British

Susan Sutherland Isaacs was an educational psychologist and psychoanalyst. She began her teaching career as a governess before going onto to study and eventually qualify as a Psychoanalyst. Her main interest lay in the intellectual and social development of children. She was an advocate of play and the development of children’s independence when learning. She was also a promoter of the nursery school movement.

45. Margaret McMillan

1860-1931, American

Educator Margaret McMillan was born in the USA and moved to England at the age of four. She was politically active from an early age and a staunch advocate for children from poor households. Her campaigning in London led to the introduction of free school meals, the first medical inspections of school children and the opening of the first school clinics. In 1914 together with her sister, she opened the Open-Air Nursery School & Training Centre in Deptford for adult trainees and children from two to seven years old.

46. Loris Malaguzzi

1920-1994, Italian

Italian educator and education psychologist Loris Malaguzzi is internationally renowned for developing The Reggio Emilia philosophy of preschool and primary education. After graduating with a degree in pedagogy and psychology in the 1940’s Loris Malaguzzi worked as a primary school teacher. His achievements include founding Reggio Emilia’s municipal Psycho-Pedagogical Medical Centre and a network of preschools and serving as an adviser to the Ministry of Education.

47. Adolph Douai

1819-1888, German

Born in Germany, Adolph Douai was the son of a school teacher. As a young man he spent time as a tutor in Russia. He eventually emigrated to the USA finding work there as a teacher. In 1859 he started a working men’s club which sponsored a three-classroom school which included the first Kindergarten in America. Douai was also well known as a journalist and publicist working for socialist and abolitionist newspapers.

48. Lucy Sprague Mitchell

1878-1967, American

Lucy Sprague Mitchell was an American educator and the first Dean of Women at the University of California at Berkeley. She was also an English Lecturer and advocate for educational and career opportunities for women. Mitchell founded the Bank Street College of Education in 1916. Bank Street is a school and college that was created as a place to train teachers and also to develop optimal learning environments for children.

49. Margaret Caldwell Donaldson

1926-Present, Scottish

After graduating from Edinburgh University Margaret Caldwell Donaldson worked as a teacher. In 1980 she became a professor of developmental psychology. Caldwell Donaldson wrote the book ‘Study of Children’s Thinking and Children’s Minds’ in 1986. It was described by eminent American psychologist Jerome Bruner as “One of the most powerful, most wisely balanced and best-informed books on the development of the child’s mind to have appeared in twenty years. Its implications for education are enormous’.

50. Vivian Paley

1929-Present, American

Preschool and kindergarten teacher and educational researcher Vivian Paley began her teaching career in New Orleans. During her time there she was impacted by how play appeared to be the “most usable context” for interaction and intellectual growth among kindergarten children. Paley wrote a number of books and received several awards. She was named Outstanding Educator by the National Council of Teachers of English in 2004.

51. Maria Montessori

1870-1952, Italian

Qualified as a paediatrician Maria Montessori began her working life as an assistant in a children’s Psychiatric Clinic. She became involved in researching, writing, and speaking, and was soon well known as an advocate for women’s rights and the education of learning disabled children. In 1906 Montessori was invited to oversee the education a group of children without disabilities. It during this time she began developing her now world famous Montessori teaching method.

9th March 1914: Italian physician and educationalist Maria Montessori, (1870 – 1952). (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Return to start

Sport and Dance

  • Louis van Gaal
  • Jeff Isaacson
  • Gerard Houllier
  • Carlotta Zambelli
  • Nini Theilade Baker
  • Peter Norman
  • Rinus Michels
  • Wilma Rudolph
  • Steve Mesler
  • Roy Hodgson

52. Louis van Gaal

1951-Present, Dutch

Dutch former football and manager Louis Van Gaal won 20 major honours during his career making him one of the most decorated football managers in history. His managerial career includes stints as manager of Ajax, Barcelona, AZ, Bayern Munich, the Netherlands and Manchester United. Whilst a semi-professional footballer he taught PE in a number of High Schools in the Netherlands.

53. Jeff Isaacson

1983-Present, American

Jeff Isaacson is a member of the American National Curling team and represented his country with the team at the 2009 Curling World Championships held in Canada. Isaacson also won a place on the 2010 Olympic team. Isaacson worked as a substitute teacher whilst training for the Olympics and is now junior high school Science Teacher.

54. Gerard Houllier

1947-Present, French

French football manager and former player Gerard Houllier worked a teacher whilst studying for his degree. He was deputy headmaster of the École Normale d’Arras until 1973 when he left to become player-manager of Le Touquet. He went on to manage several other French clubs and was the manager of the French national team between 1992 and 1993. He has since managed English Teams Liverpool and Aston Villa.

55. Carlotta Zambelli

1875-1968, Italian

Italian ballerina, Carlotta Zambelli was the last foreign prima ballerina at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in 1901. She spent most of her career in Paris where she was reigning ballerina at the Opera until she retired from dancing in 1930. Between 1920 and her retirement in 1955 she taught at the Opera ballet school and then founded the Académie Chaptal. She was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1956.

56. Nini Theilade Baker

1915-Present, Indonesian

Born in Indonesia 102-year-old Nini Theilade moved to Denmark as a child. She earned her fame as a ballet dancer-choreographer and teacher. She founded a ballet academy in Thurø which had a ballet company that toured Europe between 1969 to 1978, She also worked for 30 years as a ballet instructor at Odense Theatre’s school.

57. Peter Norman

1942-2006, Australian

Track athlete Peter Norman won his first major title whilst still in school. He later became a PE teacher but continued to compete in sporting events for his country. In the 1968 Olympics, he won a silver medal in the 200 metres, but more significantly he lent his black gloves to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, whose raised fists became an iconic image in the protest against racial inequality.

58. Rinus Michels

1928-2005, Dutch

Rinus Michels is regarded as one the greatest football managers of all time. He started his career with the Dutch team Ajax as a player. In 1965 before returning to coaching Ajax Michels taught PE at a school for deaf children. He was then appointed head coach at Ajax and later became their manager. He went on to win worldwide fame as a coach working with the Dutch National team and other teams in Germany, Spain, and the USA.

59. Wilma Rudolph

1940-1994, American

Track and Field athlete Wilma Rudolph is regarded as a civil and women’s rights pioneer in the USA. Rudolph won a bronze medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and in 1960 became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games in Rome. In the days before lucrative sponsorships, she received very little money from her sporting career. After her retirement, she became a second-grade elementary school teacher and also a sports coach.

60. Steve Mesler

1978-, American

Former American bobsledder Steve Mesler represented his country in three Olympic Games. He was part of a four-man team that won the Gold Medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He is also known as the co-founder and president of the not for profit educational organisation Classroom Champions.

61. Roy Hodgson

1947-Present, British

Premier League Football Manager and former player Roy Hodgson was the England manager from 2012-2016. He has been managing teams since the mid-1970’s in a career that has seen him work in sixteen countries. He spent time early in his career as a PE teacher at Alleyn’s School in South London and also in a school in Pretoria South Africa.

Return to start


  • Angela Lee Duckworth
  • Dr. Haim Ginott
  • Friedrich Froebel
  • Jean Piaget
  • Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
  • Kiran Bir Sethi
  • Nancie Atwell
  • Rita Pierson
  • Robert Maynard Hutchins
  • Seth Andrew

62. Angela Lee Duckworth

1970-Present, Chinese American

After graduating from Harvard University Angela Lee Duckworth spent several years as a management consultant before leaving to work as a seventh-grade Maths teacher in public schools in San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York. After completing her PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, she stayed on as an assistant professor in the psychology department. In Duckworth’s book ‘Grit’ she talks about her belief that passion and perseverance are bigger indicators of success than natural talent.

63. Dr. Haim Ginott

1922-1973, Israeli

Dr. Haim G. Ginott started his career teaching at an elementary school in Israel. He then moved to the USA and studied for a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Ginott pioneered techniques that aim to give “specific advice derived from basic communication principles that will guide parents in living with children in mutual respect and dignity.” The book he wrote about his philosophy ‘Between Parent and Child’ published in 1965 is still popular today.

64. Friedrich Froebel

1782-1852, German

Fröebel was a student of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and began his career teaching secondary school boys but later found his calling when working with preschool children. He was one of the first to understand how important the early years were in a child’s development. He recognised that children learn best through self-activity, talk and play. He was the inventor of the first Kindergarten in Blankenburg.

65. Jean Piaget

1896-1980, French

Known as the Father of Developmental Psychology Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland. He moved to Paris to pursue his studies and then began his career as a teacher. When helping his headteacher mark exam papers Piaget noticed that the younger pupils consistently gave the wrong answers to certain questions. This led to begin researching and developing a theory that is now known as known as Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development.

66. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

1746-1827, Swiss

Teacher and Educational Reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi’s motto was ‘Learning by head, hand, and heart’. It wasn’t until his early fifties that Pestalozzi became involved in education. Driven by a desire to help the poor he founded a school. Albert Einstein attended a school that taught the Pestalozzi method and said “it made me clearly realize how much superior an education based on free action and personal responsibility is to one relying on outward authority.

67. Kiran Bir Sethi

1966-Present, Indian

Global teacher prize finalist Kiran Bir Sethi set up The Riverside school in Ahmedabad, India in 2001. Sethi developed an educational method that encourages the students to creatively explore the world, develop themselves and care for others. Pupils from Riverside have consistently outperformed students from the top 10 Indian schools and it has been was ranked the third best Day School in India by Education World in 2013.

68. Nancie Atwell

1952-Present, American

American educator Nancie Atwell was the first winner of the Global Teacher Prize in 2015. Atwell started her teaching career in 1973 but soon grew frustrated by traditional teaching methods. The non-profit school she founded in Maine called the Center for Teaching and Learning gives its students the freedom to choose their own reading material. The students read an average of 40 books a year and are also enthusiastic writers. Nancie has also written nine books on teaching.

69. Rita Pierson

1951-2013, American

Rita Pierson’s parents and grandparents were teachers and she followed them into the classroom. Rita was passionate about encouraging educators to connect with their students on a personal level. Pierson’s TED talk ‘Every Kid Needs a Champion’ has been viewed 7.5 million times. In this talk, she recounts hearing a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

70. Robert Maynard Hutchins

1899 – 1977-, American

After graduating from Yale University in 1925 Robert Maynard Hutchins spent a year teaching high school History and English. Maynard Hutchins then returned to Yale eventually becoming Dean of Yale Law School whilst still in his 20’s. He was a passionate advocate of the use of ’The Great Books’ as an educational tool. Hutchins also wrote a number of books himself outlining his philosophy. In ‘The University of Utopia’ he writes “The object of the educational system, taken as a whole, is not to produce hands for industry or to teach the young how to make a living. It is to produce responsible citizens”

71. Seth Andrew


Educator Seth Andrew is currently a senior advisor at the Office of Education Technology at the White House. Andrew graduated from The Harvard Graduate School of Education with an ED.M in School Leadership. He spent time as a public school teacher in South Korea and South Africa before returning to the USA to work as a Special Education Advisor. A gifted entrepreneur Andrew set up the Democracy Prep Charter School Network in New York.

Return to start

Social Science and Humanities

  • Aristotle
  • Christa McAuliffe
  • John Comenius
  • John Hume
  • Anne Sullivan
  • Madenjit Singh
  • Pedro Noguera
  • Steven Ritz
  • Yuan Tengfei

72. Aristotle

384 BC-322 BC, Greek

Ancient Greek Philosopher and Scientist Aristotle was one of the most influential thinkers in history. His ideas form the foundation of much present-day philosophy and scientific thinking. Aristotle spent time as the head of the Royal Academy of Macedon. During this time he was the tutor of future kings Alexander the Great, Ptolemy and Cassander.

73. Christa McAuliffe

1948-1986, American

Christa McAuliffe began her teaching career in 1970. It was whilst working as a social studies teacher in 1985 that she was chosen from 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project. The intention was that from the Space Shuttle Challenger McAuliffe would conduct experiments and teach two lessons from via satellite. Tragically this wasn’t to be because on January 28, 1986, just seconds after take off the Space shuttle broke apart killing all seven crew members including McAuliffe.

74. John Comenius

1592-1670, Czech

16th Century Czech philosopher, educator and theologian John Comenius is famous as the ‘father of modern education’. He was the first teacher to create illustrated textbooks and believed that every child regardless of social class or ability had the right to a full education. From 1614 to 1618 He worked as a Latin teacher in a school in Přerov a town in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic.

75. John Hume

1937-Present, Irish

Irish SDLP politician John Hume was one of the co-architects of the Northern Irish peace process. This achievement was recognised with a number of awards including the Nobel Peace Prize which he co-won with David Trimble in 1998. He initially considered becoming a priest but instead studied History and French and worked as a teacher at a secondary school in Derry before entering politics.

76. Anne Sullivan

1866-1936, American

Born into a poor immigrant family Anne contracted an eye disease at the age of five which left her with limited vision. At fourteen she entered a school for the blind and graduated at twenty at the top of her class. In 1887 she was employed as teacher governess to the then 7-year-old deaf-blind author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller. Anne became Keller’s lifelong companion and friend.

77. Madenjit Singh


Malaysian Global teacher finalist Madenjit Singh dropped out of school and returned to education later in life with a vision to help educate the poor. He devised his own system of education which aimed to simplify any subject. His English teaching program is being taught to 350 public school teachers in Cambodia and also in Timor Leste by his students. He has also developed programs to teach basic Maths, Computer and Life skills.

78. Pedro Noguera

1959-Present, American

Dr. Noguera is a graduate professor of education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles UCLA. Noguera began his career as a teacher in public schools in Rhode Island and California. He is particularly interested in the study of race and equity in the American public school system. He is the author of nearly a dozen books and his work has appeared in numerous research journals.

79. Steven Ritz


Global teacher finalist Steven Ritz Stephen teaches in one the poorest areas of New York City. In the area of the Bronx where he works, 37% of the residents experience food insecurity. His big idea was to set up an all year round vegetable garden in his school using low-cost space and water-efficient technology. His programme has benefitted the school community in terms of health and also taught the students valuable life skills.

80. Yuan Tengfei

1972-Present, Chinese

Chinese teacher Yuan Tengfei was given the nickname “the most awesome history teacher in history” by his students in the people’s republic of China. His lectures came to the world’s attention when posted on youtube in 1998. He has attracted negative attention and lawsuits from the Chinese government due to his critical views on Mao Zedong, The Chinese Famine, and The Cultural Revolution.

Return to start

Music and Art

  • Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Kenji Miyazawa
  • Khadija Gayibova
  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Marc Chagall
  • Mohammad Ibraheem Khwakhuzhi
  • Phalla Neang
  • Rolando Alarcon
  • Sr Corita Kent
  • Zoltán Kodály

81. Georgia O’Keeffe

1887-1986, American

Known as the mother of American Modernism artist Georgia O’Keeffe was renowned for her highly original abstract paintings of flowers and New Mexico landscapes. She was the wife of photographer Alfred Stieglitz and the highest earning American female artist. From 1912-14 O’Keeffe was a teacher of drawing and penmanship in several public schools in Amarillo Texas.

82. Kenji Miyazawa

1896-1933, Japanese

Poet and writer of Children’s Literature Miyazawa Kenji was a born into a wealthy family. Between 1922 and 1926 Miyazawa worked as a teacher of Agricultural Science before leaving to become a farmer. He had a strong social conscience founding the Rasu Farmers Association to improve the lives of local peasant farmers.

83. Khadija Gayibova

1893-1938, Azerbaijani

Pianist Gayibova was a teacher of piano for several years in Tbilisi Georgia. Together with her husband engineer Nadir Gayibov she was one of the founders of the Azerbaijan State Conservatory. The Gayibovins held musical “salons” which attracted many foreign visitors and led to Gayibova being accused of spying by the Soviet government. She was executed in 1938 for espionage but officially exonerated In 1956.

84. Louise Bourgeois

1911-2010, French/American

Sculptor and Installation artist Louise Bourgeois was a member of the American Abstract Artists Group. Her contemporaries and friends included artists Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock. In the 1970s Bourgeois taught in public schools in Great Neck, Long Island. She also taught in several art colleges and held regular gatherings at her home where she encouraged and inspired a number of young artists.

85. Marc Chagall

1887-1985, Russian/French

Born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalin Vitebsk to a Lithuanian Jewish family Marc Chagall became one of the most prominent artists of the 20th Century. Working in a variety of media Chagall was renowned for his artworks many of which recall the small town he grew up in. After the first world war during a time of famine, he worked as an art teacher in a Jewish boys shelter for orphaned refugees near Moscow.

86. Mohammad Ibraheem Khwakhuzhi

1920-1992, Afghan

Afghan Poet, writer and public servant Mohammad Ibraheem Khwakhuzhiا began his career as principal of a school in Kandahar and later worked as a teacher of Literature. He was one of the founder members of the awakened youth movement and was arrested for his liberal views whilst director of Education in Kandahar Province. He later joined the Progressive Democratic Party of Afghanistan.

87. Phalla Neang


Cambodian teacher of the blind Phalla Neang was a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2015. She began working as a teacher of the blind in a Thai refugee camp in 1986. On returning to Cambodia in 1991 she became the country’s first teacher of Braille and went on to create a Khmer version of Braille. She later contributed the opening of first Cambodian school for the blind. Concentrating on the senses of hearing and touch music is a central part of the curriculum she created.

88. Rolando Alarcon

1929-1973, Chilean

Acclaimed Chilean Folk Musician, soloist and composer Rolando Alarcon began his career as a teacher of music. Alarcon toured Europe in the 1950’s as part of the folk music choir Coro Pablo Vidales and in the 1960’s with the group Cuncumén. He died aged 43 in 1973.

89. Sister Corita Kent

1918-1986, American

Frances Elizabeth Kent entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent at the age of 18 and took the name Sister Mary Corita Kent. She taught Art in the Immaculate Heart school system in Los Angeles. She was renowned for her contribution to the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s creating works that advocated for social justice.

90. Zoltán Kodály

1882-1967, Hungarian

Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, pedagogue, linguist, and philosopher Zoltán Kodaly travelled through rural Hungary with fellow composer and friend Béla Bartók collecting and recording Hungarian Folk songs. He later composed music for children and together with his colleague Jenö Ádám developed a system of teaching music. This system was the basis of the now world-famous Kodaly method of music education.

Return to start


  • Edna Krabappel
  • Anne Shirley
  • John Kimble
  • Lucy Snowe
  • Miss Honey
  • Miss Jean Brodie
  • Mr Chips
  • Mr Holland
  • Mr Keating
  • Ricardo Braithwaite

91. Edna Krabappel


Edna Krabappel is a fictional teacher who appears in the cartoon the Simpsons. Krabappel is the teacher of Bart Simpson’s 4th-grade class at Springfield Elementary School. She is described as a teacher who was once optimistic with a love of teaching. Many years at Springfield have left her a grumpy jaded woman worn down by the public school system.

92. Anne Shirley


Written in 1909 Anne of Avonlea follows Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables who has taken a job as a teacher after she leaves school. In this book, the author Lucy Maud Montgomery explores the tension between traditional education and new methods such as those espoused by the educational reformer John Dewey.

93. John Kimble


John Kimble is the name of the tough police detective played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the1990 film Kindergarten Cop. Kimble goes undercover in a kindergarten and is forced to teach a class of 6-year-olds when their teacher is taken sick. Kimble discovers that controlling the class is not as easy as he had thought but once he finds his feet discovers that it’s a job he really enjoys.

94. Lucy Snowe


The main character in Charlotte Bronte’s 1853 novel Villette is Lucy Snowe a 23-year-old English School teacher. In the novel after a family tragedy, Lucy travels to the French city of Villette to work in a girls boarding school as a nanny. Parts of Villette are considered by some to be loosely based on Bronte’s own experience of working as an English teacher in Belgium in 1842.

95. Miss Honey


The Teacher Miss Honey is a character in the Roald Dahl’s children’s novel Matilda published in 1988. Neglected by her parents, the protagonist Matilda is befriended by Miss Honey who is the first to recognize her intellectual abilities. The books happy ending has Matilda going to live with Miss Honey who becomes her new guardian. In the novel, Matilda says of Miss Honey. ‘there is no doubt she possessed that rare gift for being adored by every small child under her care.’

96. Miss Jean Brodie


Miss Jean Brodie is the central character of the book ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ written by Muriel Spark in 1961. Based in a school in 1930’s Edinburgh Miss Brodie is a teacher of ten-year-old girls. Miss Brodie is an unconventional and free-spirited teacher who describes herself as being in her prime. She encourages her pupils to embrace a life of excitement rather than focus on the schools authorised curriculum.

97. Mr Chips

1939-Present, American

First published as a novella in 1933 Goodbye Mr. Chips tells the story of Mr. Chipping and his long career teaching at fictional English boarding school for boys. The story has been adapted several times in the form of radio and theatre plays, films and a T.V. series. It tells the story of the sweeping social changes Mr. Chips experiences in a career that begins as the Franco Prussian war breaks out and ends with Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.

98. Mr Holland


Musician and composer Mr. Glenn Holland is the central character of the 1995 film Mr. Holland’s Opus who takes a teaching job to make ends meet. Mr. Holland continues to work on his music in his spare time hoping to create the masterpiece that will make him famous. As the years pass we see the students lives Mr. Holland touches and it becomes clear that as a teacher Mr. Holland is really making a difference. As his students tell him at the end of the film ‘We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.

99. Mr Keating


In the 1989 film Dead Poets Society, the inspiring and charismatic English teacher John Keating is played by Robin Williams. Keating encourages the students to be individuals, step out and ‘seize the day’ rather than follow the conventional paths set out for them by their parents and other teachers.

100. Ricardo Braithwaite


The book and film ‘To Sir with Love’ tell the story of a Cambridge educated Guyanese engineer Ricardo Braithwaite. Braithwaite moves to London in the 1950’s to work in an inner-city school after failing to secure a job in his chosen field. In ‘To Sir with Love’ the author Ricardo Braithwaite explores the difficulties faced by an educated black man trying to find his place in 1950’s society. The book is based the author’s own experiences.

Return to start

Looking to make a difference in the classroom? Check out the thousands of teaching jobs live on Adzuna right now.

Or if you’re currently choosing what to study, use our Value My Degree tool to see how much your degree could be worth!