Saturday, December 27, 2008

Famous people who used to be teachers


In classical myth, Janus is pictured as looking forward and looking back, at the same time. I don't have two faces, and I don't have much respect for those who do, but I am presently looking back to ’08 and forward to ’09. Much has happened in the past few months, and there is no small amount of uncertainty about the immediate future. Since I am not going to be in the classroom for winter quarter, I’ve been thinking about what to do with my free time. That is assuming I have some free time, of course. During the hiatus, I hope to accomplish some goals which have nothing to do with my on and off career as an English instructor. Teaching can be so consuming that I don’t get as much writing and editing done as I would like. I must remember that many teachers have found time to make their mark on the world.

While many scientists, such as Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and Issac Asimov were also professors, some teachers have achieved fame outside of the classroom. Here is an informal and no doubt incomplete list of celebrities who once made a living as a classroom teacher:

Anne Murray, one of my favorite singers, studied physical education and taught for one year prior to landing a job in television, which in turn launched her career in music. I’ve always enjoyed her songs, and I love her Christmas album.

Sting, who was formerly known as Gordon Sumner, taught for two years prior to making music his full time job.

Art Garfunkel, of Simon and Garfunkel taught at the Litchfield Preparatory School in Connecticut, during which time “Bridge Over Troubled Water” became a hit.

Andy Griffith graduated from UNC and taught at Goldsboro High School as a music teacher until 1951. He was working as a teacher when he recorded his famous “What It Was, Was Football” monologue, which was his first claim to fame.

Roberta Flack taught English in Maryland for several years prior to making music her career.

And, my all time favorite former English teacher is novelist Stephen King. He got a contract for Carrie, a yarn based on his observations of teenagers, and he has published many best sellers.

My novels have not yet brought me much fame, but perhaps I can dream a bit during the daytime, knowing that fame has sometimes followed an education career.

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