Surprise: 14 Famous People Who Teach

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You know these people as musicians, entertainers and athletes - but did you know they're also teachers? Some supported themselves as public school teachers before making it big; others bring the wisdom of their success to college classrooms. They all prove that even Hollywood benefits from a little education.
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Oprah Winfrey Teaches at Northwestern Kellogg

1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey has used her extraordinary popularity as a daytime television host to start a magazine, run an international book club, act, produce films and engage in a variety of philanthropic pursuits. She can also add 'professor' to her resume - Oprah taught the Dynamics of Management at Northwestern University's renowned Kellogg School of Management.

Spike Lee teaches at NYU and Columbia

2. Spike Lee

Film students at NYU and Columbia have the opportunity to take courses from acclaimed director Spike Lee. He's directed over 40 major movies, including 'Do the Right Thing,' 'Malcolm X,' 'The Kings of Comedy' and 'Inside Man.'

Kal Penn taught at UPenn

3. Kal Penn

The actor who rocketed to stardom as the motivation-impaired Kumar in 'Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle' taught two courses in Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn recently left the TV show 'House' to serve as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Andy Griffith taught high school

4. Andy Griffith

Comic actor Andy Griffith taught high school English in Goldsboro, NC for several years after graduating from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill. Griffith later became famous as the namesake sheriff in 'The Andy Griffith Show' and legendary country lawyer in the long-running 'Matlock' TV series.

Billy Crystal taught gym

5. Billy Crystal

Actor and stand-up comedian Billy Crystal put in his time as a substitute junior high school teacher before he hit it big. Teaching in his native Long Island, Crystal's classes are rumored to have included the inevitably hilarious girl's gym. Crystal is best known for his roles in classic comedies such as 'When Harry Met Sally?,' 'City Slickers,' 'Analyze This' and 'Monsters, Inc.'

Sylvester Sly Stallone taught PE before acting in films such as Rocky

6. Sylvester Stallone

Imagine having Rocky as your P.E. teacher! Actor Sylvester 'Sly' Stallone also taught gym while working his way through college. Odds are he was a lot more intimidating than Mr. Crystal. Stallone's action-packed filmography includes 'Rocky, ' 'Rambo,' 'Demolition Man' and 'The Specialist.'

Mr T from the A-Team taught phys ed

7. Mr. T.

If Sly couldn't get you into shape, how about Mr. T? Laurence Tureaud, better known as Mr. T, is another famous actor who started out teaching phys ed. Known for being a tough guy with a heart of gold, Mr. T became popular for his role in the television series 'The A Team,' and also starred opposite Sylvester Stallone in 'Rocky III.'

Coach Dennis Green teaches at San Diego State

8. Dennis Green

If you're ready to move up from gym to Sports Management, you can take classes from former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green at San Diego State University. Green also coached the Arizona Cardinals during his NFL career, and currently coaches the California Redwoods in the UFL.

Sting taught at a girl

9. Sting

British rock star Sting, born Gordon Sumner, taught soccer, music and English at a convent school. Being the only man on the faculty inspired some of his band The Police's sexiest hit songs, including 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'Roxanne.' Sumner's nickname was inspired by a black and yellow sweater he wore once when playing music with the Phoenix Jazzmen. The bandleader told Sumner he looked like a bumblebee and thus 'Sting' was born.

Gene Simmons taught high school English

10. Gene Simmons

If you thought Sting teaching in a convent was scandalous, imagine the long tongue of Gene Simmons leading your sixth grade classroom! He taught middle school in Harlem before allegedly being fired for replacing the classics with Superman comics in an effort to get kids to read. Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight. He achieved super-stardom as the bassist, vocalist and wildest stage performer for legendary rock band Kiss.

Sheryl Crow taught elementary music

11. Sheryl Crow

Rock/country star Sheryl Crow earned her degree in music education from the University of Missouri, after which she spent several years as an elementary music teacher in Fenton, a St. Louis suburb. Crow continued to play music on the side, writing advertising jingles and playing back-up on the road for stars like Michael Jackson. She began to emerge as a successful solo artist in the early 90s after scoring her first recording contract with A&M Records.

Art Garfunkel taught math

12. Art Garfunkel

Half of the classic American folk rock group Simon and Garfunkel got started in teaching. After earning a master's in Mathematics from Columbia College, Art Garfunkel taught math at Litchfield Preparatory School in Connecticut. It was during his time teaching that Simon and Garfunkel soared to popularity with the hit 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.'

Roberta Flack taught public school

13. Roberta Flack

American Jazz and R&B singer Roberta Flack was the one of the youngest students to ever enroll at Howard University: she matriculated on a full music scholarship at the tender age of 15. Flack graduated at 19 and was set to start her master's in music when her father's sudden death forced her to drop out and pursue a teaching career. She put in several years teaching public school and private music students in North Carolina and Maryland before her music career got back on track. Flack was 'discovered' by established jazz pianist Les McCann in 1968 while she was singing in for a children's library benefit. She is perhaps best known for her Grammy-award winning 1974 hit 'Killing Me Softly With His Song.'

Kris Kristofferson briefly taught at West Point

14. Kris Kristofferson

After receiving his first bachelor's degree from Pomona College, country music star Kris Kristofferson earned a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. He graduated from Oxford with a degree in English Lit, and eventually followed his father's footsteps into the military. Kristofferson had a brief career as an English teacher at West Point before resigning his commission to move to Nashville to pursue his music career.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Liberty University

    Program Options

      • DME: Doctor of Music Education
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Elementary Education
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Middle Grades Education
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Secondary Education
      • PHD: Education: Curriculum and Instruction
      • MA: Music Education: Music Studies
      • MAT: Master of Arts in Teaching (45 Hours): Middle Grades Education
      • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education
      • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Law (Non-Licensure)
      • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Technology (Non-Licensure)
      • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Elementary Education (Non-Licensure)
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Walden University

    Program Options

      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Reading, Literacy & Assessment
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Early Childhood Education
      • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Mathematics (Grades K-6)
      • MS in Education - Science (Grades K-8)
      • MS in Education - Self-Designed
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Literacy (Grades PreK-6)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics & Science (Grades K-8)
      • BS Elementary Education
  • Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt University

  • Cambridge, MA

    Harvard University

  • Winfield, KS

    Southwestern College

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Online Programs Available
    7. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • Notre Dame, IN

    University of Notre Dame

  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma

Featured Schools

Liberty University

  • DME: Doctor of Music Education
  • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction
  • MA: Music Education: Music Studies
  • MAT: Master of Arts in Teaching (45 Hours): Middle Grades Education

What is your highest level of education?

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
  • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
  • BS Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education completed?

Southwestern College

Purdue University Global

  • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
  • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration

Which subject are you interested in?