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His students call him Schmo, Mr. Schmo, Big Daddy Schmo, or Pimp Daddy Schmo—and he’s pretty much the teacher we all wish we had.

Los Angeles native Barry Smolin has been teaching English for 28 years in Los Angeles that really, there’s no difference between them and young Telemachus in the Odysseye English teachers themselves. He taught author Edan Lepucki, who recently published her first novel, California. Funny, passionate, and brilliant, Smolin does the great names of literature justice while opening up or as he says, blowing away young minds. Just never mention to him the saying “Those who can’t do, teach.”

Smolin is one of many dedicated teachers who work hard and take immense pleasure in finding creative ways to inspire students every day. Through the eyes of four similarly dedicated public school educators, Davis Guggenheim’s documentary TEACH gives audiences a peek inside the American classroom—showing that at the heart of every great education is great teaching.