Front of the Class
This Hallmark Hall of Fame production is based on the 2005 book “Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had,” which Brad Cohen wrote with Lisa Wysocky. The book, well worth reading, gives insight into what it is like to live with Tourette’s.
The main thrust of the movie is that Cohen feels compelled to be a teacher — the encouraging, sympathetic teacher that he never had. After 24 frustrating job interviews in his new home, Atlanta, the 25th interview at a progressive elementary school lands him a job.
His young students — and his peers — grow to love Cohen despite his disorder, and he teaches his class about love and acceptance of all people, but also that “If Mr. Cohen can do it then so can I!”
Brad Cohen is the epitome of what it means to overcome the kind of obstacles that would stop many people from pursing their dreams. Cohen, who has Tourette Syndrome, a neurological brain disorder that causes the body to make strange sounds and uncontrollable violent twitches, suffered a difficult childhood due to his unusual condition that attracted lots of unwanted attention from other students, and sometimes his teachers. But an accepting high school principal turned the school’s perception of Cohen around, giving him the courage to eventually pursue a degree in education and become a teacher. Today, Cohen is an assistant principal of an elementary school in Atlanta. He also channels much of his efforts into TS-related activities, serving as a TS camp coordinator, speaker, foundation director and board member on various advisory boards.
While watching each of these videos I was reminded that many of the experiences that Brad endured while looking for work is the same that most of the people with whom we work with here at Pearl Buck Center assisting with their job search have encountered in some way.
But as you watch you can see that once you have your questions answered and look at what the person can do for you and how they can make a difference in your workplace and help boost your bottom line the disability no longer becomes an issue.
If you get a chance to watch any of these videos, I’m sure that you will be moved and inspired as I was.