I teach intro photography every month and generally find that the camera is not terribly important, much more important are the vision and dedication of the student.

That said, one thing I have noticed is that there are some cameras that give very little information in the viewfinder and others that tell you more. That information is very useful. After working with a couple of beginners with Canon AE-1s which basically require you to repeatedly remove your eye from the finder to set the shutter speed and aperture I helped out someone with a Nikon FE2. The FE2 was a joy, the aperture and shutter speed both show in the finder and you can work much more quickly.

I also find that the auto focus cameras are harder to learn to use and many people fall right back into using auto exposure quickly because of the hassle of having to turn dials while pressing buttons and the like.

Any way you go, have fun, that is most important.