Dead Poets Society (1989)
A new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school that is 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. With Keating’s help, students Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) and others learn to break out of their shells, pursue their dreams and seize the day.
Stand and Deliver (1988)
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. After intensive study, his students ace California’s calculus test, only to learn that their scores are being questioned. They’ll have to retake the exam in order to quiet the critics.
To Be and To Have (2002)
In rural France, schoolteacher Georges Lopez educates 12 children, whose ages range from 4 to 11 years old. Over the course of a year, the soon-to-retire Lopez instructs them all in one small classroom with the traditional tools of French teaching: rote repetition and the dictation of literary passages for copying. As the seasons pass, Lopez must keep his students disciplined while preparing the older children for the exams that will determine their educational future.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1996)
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. Though at first the job frustrates him, and his unconventional methods often draw the ire of the straight-laced vice principal (W.H. Macy), Mr. Holland grows to love his students as the “temporary” position stretches into a decades-long career — and in the end, they reveal just how much they love him back.
School of Rock (2003)
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). As he gets his privileged and precocious charges in touch with their inner rock ‘n’ roll animals, he imagines redemption at a local Battle of the Bands.
Queen of Katwe (2016)
Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona becomes fascinated with the game and soon becomes a top player under Katende’s guidance. Her success in local competitions and tournaments opens the door to a bright future and a golden chance to escape from a life of poverty.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016)
In 1913, brilliant South Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) travels to Trinity College in England to work with professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons).
Reggie’s Prayer (1996)
A frustrated pro football player (Reggie White) retires to coach an Oregon high-school team, where he befriends a troubled student.
The Marva Collins Story (1981)
Marva Collins (Cicely Tyson) is a Chicago schoolteacher who strives to do her best to educate her students. However, she grows frustrated by the boundaries imposed on her methods by a failing public school system. Confronted by stubborn colleagues and a reproachful principal, Collins boldly decides to go it alone. Using her own funds, she creates the prep school for inner-city students that she feels they deserve. This moving biopic is based on a true story.
Freedom Writers (2007)
A dedicated teacher (Hilary Swank) in a racially divided Los Angeles school has a class of at-risk teenagers deemed incapable of learning. Instead of giving up, she inspires her students to take an interest in their education and planning their future. She assigns reading material that relates to their lives and encourages them all to keep journals.
The Ron Clark Story (2006)
In his small North Carolina hometown, Ron Clark (Matthew Perry) leads a comfortable life as a successful elementary school teacher, earning the respect of the community. However, he knows there are students elsewhere who need him more. Following his inner calling, Clark uproots to New York City, hoping to make a difference for the disenfranchised youths the school system has left behind. Clark makes it his mission to turn around the worst students, even though he knows his job is on the line.
The Great Debaters (2007)
Poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) teaches at the predominately black Wiley College in 1935 Texas. He decides to start a debate team, something nearly unheard of at a black college. While at first he butts heads with the influential father (Forest Whitaker) of one of his best debators, eventually he is able to form a team of strong-minded, intelligent young students, and they become the first black debate team to challenge Harvard’s prestigious debate champions.