Sunday, December 07, 2008

CBS-Hallmark "Front of the Class": a young man with Tourette Syndrome becomes a teacher


Tonight CBS broadcast the new Hallmark film “Front of the Class”, directed by Peter Werner. In this true docudrama, Jimmy Wolk plays the young adult Brad Cohen, who achieves his goal of becoming a teacher despite having Tourette Syndrome. He does benefit from the Americans for Disabilities Act, but volunteers explanations in the interviews. He moves to Atlanta and gets a job as a second grade teacher, and the second graders are much more able to accept him than somewhat older kids might have been. He wins the Sallie Mae award as First Year Teacher of the Year for Georgia.

The movie shows many flashbacks to young Brad, who talks about Tourette’s as a “constant companion.” He is told to practice self-control (I remember that with my own problems in grade school with “interrupting”). He is taunted by bullies, and a less enlightened middle school administration allows him to be humiliated, but in high school the principle invites him to explain his condition at an orchestra concert.

Treat Williams (who played the surgeon Dr. Brown in “Everwood”) plays the headstrong father and construction supervisor, and is slow to accept his son.

Brad apparently cannot go into certain venues (like movie theaters) and has to rent all his movies. That’s a bit of an irony. The film might have been hard to watch in a theater rather than as a TV movie.

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