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Four flicks, four teachers

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Blackboard Jungle (1955) Glenn Ford is the idealist teacher who mixes it up with smirking tough kids in this genre-shaping classic that helped launch rock ‘n’ roll with its dangerous soundtrack (yes, somehow Bill Haley was once an edgy threat to America’s youth), but a smoldering Sidney Poitier steals the movie as the leader of the toughs. Vic Morrow, then 26, made his screen debut trying to look a decade younger. Also in the class: Paul Mazursky, Anne Francis and Jameel Farah, who later changed his name to Jamie Farr and was shipped off to sitcom Korea to wear a dress. (MGM)
Abby Bekken, 7, and other first-graders mimic their teacher in a Spanish lesson as she describes how it feels to be cold. Other school districts face cutbacks in similar programs.
Abby Bekken, 7, and other first-graders mimic their teacher in a Spanish lesson as she describes how it feels to be cold. Other school districts face cutbacks in similar programs. (Columbia Pictures)
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Stand & Deliver (1988) Edward James Olmos, stooped and muttering, is the quirky (and real-life) East L.A. teacher Jaime Escalante, who takes a group of unruly pupils (glowering Lou Diamond Phillips most memorable) and turns them into passionate math scholars. They shock the world by passing a college-credit calculus exam, grapple with accusations of cheating and help their teacher secure an Oscar nomination. ()
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Dangerous Minds (1995) Michelle Pfeiffer and her cheekbones were the unlikely choice to play another real-life California teacher, LouAnne Johnson, a former U.S. Marine who marched into a gritty Palo Alto classroom to become a drill sergeant with a heart. She wins over her surly pupils with karate moves, candy bars, a potty mouth and the lyrics of Bob Dylan. The soundtrack had the hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio, who also popped up as the (ahem) sex-ed teacher in the short-lived TV series starring Annie Potts. ()
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