Thought for National Teacher Appreciation Day on May 8th . . .Another Way Teaching Inspires

Many successful people – actors, politicians, scientists and many more – can point to a special teacher who inspired them. But there is a different link between teaching and success too, which reveals itself when you make a list of successful people who have worked as teachers.

We’ve just done some online research, and here is a short list of very successful people who have been teachers.

Famous Writers

Dan Brown taught Spanish at Beverly Hills Preparatory School.

C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien both taught literature at Oxford University.

Thornton Wilder taught French at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.

Robert Frost taught English at the Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire.


President John Adams, our second president, taught school in Worcester, Massachusetts before starting in politics.

President Jimmy Carter was, and still is, a Sunday school teacher in Georgia.

President Lyndon Johnson taught public speaking in public high schools, and even was the Principal of one in Cotulla, Texas.

President Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

Musicians and Performers

Art Garfunkel taught math at Litchfield Preparatory School in Connecticut before starting his folk singing career.

Dancer and choreographer Martha Graham founded her own school of dance in New York, where she taught not only dancers but actors who included Kirk Douglas and Liza Minnelli.

Composer Paul Hindemith taught at the Yale School of Music.

Sting taught at a private girls’ school in England.

Business Leaders

Stephen Spinelli, co-founder of Jiffy Lube, teaches at Babson University.

Peter Theil, co-founder of PayPal, has taught business and other subjects at Stanford University.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, taught high school in San Jose, California.

Actors and Entertainers

Cheryl Crow was an elementary school teacher in Missouri

Billy Crystal worked as a substitute teacher in Long Island, New York, before starting his stand-up career.

Tony Danza taught at a public high school in New York City.

Andy Griffith was an English teacher at Goldsboro High School in North Carolina.

Hugh Jackman was a physical education teacher in his native Australia.

Mr. T taught physical education at a high school in Chicago.

Sam Levenson, a comedian and author who achieved fame in the 1950s and 1960s, taught Spanish at Samuel Tilden High School in New York City before his stand-up career took off.

Sylvester Stallone taught physical education at the American College in Switzerland.

The lesson seems to be that both teachers and students can be inspired when they meet in the classroom. Want to know more about the transforming power of teaching? Participate in the National Career Pathway Study and receive information on college and career opportunities which match your interests.

We’d love to help you reach your college dreams.

That’s why the Student Research Foundation is offering high school students and their families up to $15,000 in college scholarship funds! Learn more and Apply.

Related Posts
Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers
The “Average” Teacher
How Many Teachers Will the US Lose if DACA Protections Disappear?