Teachers are special and September 5 is a day to tell them so. Here’s a look at some unlikely teachers.

This Teacher’ s Day, besides celebrating Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and our teachers, let us also take some time to read about some known personalities we didn’t know were teachers too. Teaching either at school, college, special children or athletes, their stint as teachers, albeit quite brief for some, has been shadowed by other pursuits that they have now come to be known for. Here’s a look at a few you might not have thought of as teachers…

P.T. Usha

The “Payyoli Express”, as she is called, ruled the Indian athletic scene in the 1980s and 1990s. Still considered as one of the best athletic talents that the country has produced, this Padma Shri cum Arjuna awardee has now turned into a teacher/coach with her school Usha School of Athletics where she trains young girls from across the country.

Poonam Natarajan

Poonam Natarajan’s job is special. She is the founder-director of Vidya Sagar an organisation that works with people with cerebral palsy, autism, learning disabilities and multiple disabilities. Currently, she is also the Chairperson of the National Trust for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. Even before creating a larger impact with her organisation, Poonam touched many lives as a Special Educator with AADI (formerly, The Spastics Society of Northern India).

Kiran Bedi

The tough cop became the first woman officer in the IPS when she joined the police service in 1972. The Ramon Magsaysay awardee is especially known for the work she did during her stint as the Inspector General of Prisons, Tihar Jail, where she introduced a number of reforms. Prior to answering the call of the khaki she started off as a lecturer in Political Science at Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar, for two years.

Mother Teresa

She is an inspiration to many, having dedicated her life to serving the needy. The Albanian born Catholic sister arrived in India in 1929. Before she dedicated her life to the cause of the poor, she taught Geography and Catechism at St. Mary’s High School, Kolkata, and in 1944, became its principal. The poverty and unrest she witnessed then is what moved her to take up the cause of the underprivileged, and she started by teaching in a school in the slums.

J.K. Rowling

The author of the best selling books in the Harry Potter series put down the ideas for the book while she was a teacher in Portugal. In 1991, Rowling moved to Portugal, after her mother’s death, to teach English at a language institute. In fact, it is said her novel took shape at this time. “In those first weeks in Portugal I wrote what has become my favourite chapter in the Philosopher’s Stone, ‘The Mirror of Erised’, and had hoped that, when I returned from Portugal I would have a finished book under my arm,” she writes of her experience in her website.

Manmohan Singh

India’s 14th Prime Minister, holds a doctorate in Economics and has even authored a book on the subject titled India’s Export Trends and Prospects for Self-Sustained Growth. Dr. Singh, before making a foray into politics, was a faculty member of Punjab University and the Delhi School of Economics, teaching what else, but economics.

R.K. Narayan

The creator of the affable Swami and Friends, Malgudi Days, The English Teacher and many more, author R.K. Narayan is one of India’s well known writers. Not as well known is the fact that he worked briefly as a school teacher after completing his Bachelor’s degree. It was only after this that he realised where his heart lay — in writing. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Alexander Graham Bell

The ancestor of our mobile phones, the telephone, was invented by this Scottish scientist who was also a professor of vocal physiology. “In 1872, Bell founded a school in Boston to train teachers for the deaf. The school subsequently became part of Boston University, where Bell was appointed professor of vocal physiology in 1873,” reads the BBC website.

Robert Frost

“Miles to go before I sleep…” Sounds familiar? This is a line from one of the many poems (Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening)penned by the famous American poet Robert Frost.

A poet by passion, he was also a teacher for most part of his life, teaching English at Pinkerton Academy at New Hampshire, Amherst College in Massachusetts and at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College, Vermont. He was also a fellowship teacher at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, U.S.A.

Barack Obama

Almost everybody recognises the man who holds the highest office in the world’s most powerful nation. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the U.S. and more famous because he is the first African American to hold the title.

Lesser known is the fact that he was a teacher too. The University of Chicago Law School website reads: “From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year.”

Albert Einstein

This Nobel Prize-winning Physicist developed the theory of relativity, and is most famous for his formula E = mc2, easily recognised by even non-physicists. Besides being a theoretical physicist who devoted a lot of time in research, Einstein has also held several teaching positions in universities like University of Zuriich, University of Bern and Charles-Ferdinand University, Prague.

Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore wore several hats — poet, writer, playwright, philosopher, painter and composer. He comes alive through his work, every time we sing the national anthem written by him at school and at other occasions. Even our neighbouring Bangladesh’s national anthem — Amar Shonar Bangla — is a work of Tagore’s.

He is credited with converting Shantiniketan into a university town in West Bengal by founding his experimental school, now an international university — Viswa Bharathi, where he also taught.