Straight Out of Central Casting

My husband has this phrase he always uses when he’s talking about someone who fits a stereotype to a tee. He says they’re “straight out of Central Casting.” I laugh. I know exactly what he means.

Turns out there really is an agency called Central Casting. Founded in 1925, they are a casting agency that specifically focuses on background actors. They create the scene and set the stage. Kind of like in life.

It’s like going to Walmart. You can go to Walmart anywhere in the country. Any state, any city, any socioeconomic area and you’ll find the exact same people. I mean, they’re not the EXACT same. But they could be related.

Now I’m not knocking anyone. I shop at Walmart. When I have to. But there is a certain air about Walmart that ensures a consistent experience wherever you go. (Wasn’t that a nice way of putting it?) I’m convinced you could put a Walmart on Rodeo Drive and you’ll still see those people straight out of Central Casting.

I’m also quite convinced now that Central Casting has had something to do with the staffing at my son’s new school. Granted, it’s been years since I set foot in an elementary school but I still remember the typical cast of characters.

Some of my favorites include:

The Gym Teacher, aka the P.E. Teacher


Typically, we find that the gym teacher is a very tan and often balding male (that was my experience anyway). Sometimes with a ballcap, always with a whistle. Very similar to the high school History teacher who only got his teaching certificate so he could coach.

The Librarian, aka the Media Center Specialist


The school librarian always seems to be a mousy woman with glasses. She generally seems to be the quiet type until you talk in her library. Often, you might imagine her going home to a houseful of cats as she probably never married.

The Art Teacher, aka the Art Teacher


Almost always female, art teachers are usually well dressed and carry an air of mystique about them. Unless they are male, teach middle school, double as the gym teacher, and have a very, very bad temper. In either case, I sense they are all frustrated artists still hoping for their big break.

The Cafeteria Manager, aka the Lunch Lady

It would seem that school cafeterias must do their recruiting from the military. Lunch ladies are tough. Don’t mess with them or their kitchen or their menu. And you better pick up that trash that just fell off your lunch tray.

And finally…

The Counselor, aka ?


This is a new one for me. The only time we used the term “counselor” in school was when we had a dreaded appointment with the Guidance Counselor (who coincidentally gave us very little guidance). But if I were to cast the counselor, it’d be a touchy-feely type with long flowing hair, big beaded necklaces, and colorful skirts. And they’d have a bowl of Skittles in their office.

It’s been a few decades since I’ve been in touch with the elementary school scene and with my son going to school for the very first time, I’m thrust back into the middle of it. Upon visiting the school and meeting many of the teachers, it’s nice to see that some things change and some things stay the same.

This is a fictional description of school-based characters. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. But I will say that I attended school and taught school so I do have a little perspective.


  • One Funny Motha

    You may not have been in elementary school in a while, but you nailed it. Especially love “the guidance councilor (who coincidentally gave us very little guidance).”

    • FadraN

      I thought it was funny this morning that my son confirmed his gym teacher is, indeed, bald!

  • Andrea B.

    As someone who has considered being a social worker in schools, I promise if I ever do that sort of work I’ll wear long flowy skirts and beaded necklaces. :)

  • Susi

    My kids had a female gym teacher at their old school… she was one scary “lady”. At the new school there are a lot of different coaches and most of them are quite buff!!! :)

  • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles

    This is adorable… and my kids’ school is apparently straight out of central casting.