25 of the most memorable TV teachers

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Gabe Kotter – Welcome Back, Kotter

Some of you might not remember the ’70s high school show, but I’m pretty sure you’d recognize the theme song and a young John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino. Before Travolta enjoyed A-list fame, Gabe Kaplan was the star of the show as the super hip Mr. Kotter.

Mr. Kotter teaches a racially and economically diverse remedial class, affectionately known as “The Sweathogs.” Mr. Kotter, a founding member of the original Sweathogs class, returns to his alma mater in Brooklyn to head the class. The spiteful and uncaring vice principal has little hope that he’ll be able to make much of a difference and expects Kotter to just babysit the “witless hoodlums” until they drop out.

Kotter refuses to give up on this bunch because they remind him of his school days, and he pushes them toward academic success. As a result, a special teacher/class bond is formed, and they become extremely close. The Sweathogs often pop in to Kotter’s Bensonhurst apartment, usually coming in through the fire escape window. His wife Julie loves that, as you can imagine.

The character of Gabe Kotter was created by Kaplan, and the school and classroom in the show were both heavily inspired by Kaplan’s real life high school experience. In fact, Kaplan’s actual high school, New Utrecht High, is featured in the opening credits.

Treat yourself to the delight that is John Travolta’s hair on YouTube.