How to Find an Old Teacher

by Contributor

Ever wonder what happened to that fifth grade teacher? Want to tell a sophomore English teacher "thanks" for insisting everyone learn how to outline a paragraph? Finding a teacher might seem a difficult proposition, but the following tips can help get your search headed in the right direction.

Check with the school office and identify yourself as a former student. Make sure the teacher is still teaching there. If not, the school office may have an idea where a former teacher went. Follow that trail by speaking to other school offices. Speak to any other teachers that taught at the same time.

Contact teacher associations, retired teachers organizations and the state education agency or the state board of education. See if they have an address for the old teacher. They may not give the contact information but might be willing to forward a letter or email.

Use Internet search engines to search for the teacher's name. Use quotation marks around the name and use all variations of the teacher's name, such as William and Bill, Debra and Debbie. If the name is common, try narrowing it down by adding other pertinent information, like "John Doe" and "Memphis."

Search the online telephone and email directories. If there are too many results, narrow the number down by using geographic areas. Other public record searches, such as county appraisal lists and voter registration rolls, can be helpful.

Explore genealogical and family history sites. Many of these have obituaries, death and marriage records, as well as address directories. Some may charge a subscription price, but many are free.

Register at a class reunion website. Look for other former students and ask if they have any information about the old teacher.

Consider paying an online search company. As with any company, ask about their refund and complaint policy. Check online review sites for positive and negative comments. Verify what kind of information is provided. Be aware that much of the provided information may come from free sites that anyone can use.


  • Contact a local librarian to help with Internet searches.
  • Unique information will narrow down the number of results when using search engines. A church affiliation, a spouse's name or a hobby can help find the right person in these searches.