Front of the Class, a movie by Hallmark, was released in 1999 and is rated PG. It is the true story of a man named Bradley Cohen who is portrayed by Jimmy Wolk. Peter Werner was the director, Andrew Gottlieb the producer, and Tim Shriver was the executive producer. The score was arranged by Ernest Frost, and Tom Rickman was the screen writer. The film was based on the book Front of the Class written by Bradley Cohen and Lisa Wysocky.

Brad Cohen developed Tourette syndrome at age six. No one knew that he had Tourette syndrome, and because of this, he had an extremely hard childhood. Since his parents were divorced, Brad and his brother worked with their mom (Patricia Heaton) at her small clothing store in St. Louis. Throughout his life he battled TS (Tourette syndrome). This struggle slowly strengthened his character, showed him the importance of education, and made him realize that he was destined to become a teacher.

Because most people believed that Brad’s TS was just a lack of self-control, he was often reprimanded or punished for his uncontrollable twitches and sounds. His teachers would reprove him in front of the entire class, make him apologize to his fellow students for his outbursts, and then promise to never make another strange sound again. But, since the outbursts were involuntary, like a sneeze, he could never keep this promise. Bradley’s father also kept telling him to control himself and that he was part of the cause for his mom’s stressful behavior. But, his mother did not accept the predictions that her son was just a conniving creature, content with disrupting classes in order to draw attention to himself. She eventually searched through medical books and found that her son, Bradley, had the incurable disease know as Tourette’s Syndrome. In middle school, Brad Cohen was asked by his principle, Mr. Meyers, to stand in front of all the school in the auditorium and explain why he made strange noises and twitched. Once people realized that he couldn’t stop himself from these outbursts and the more accepted and comfortable Brad felt the less he twitched, they stopped mocking and ridiculing him. From this man‘s caring act, Brad Cohen understood the power of education and this principal’s act of compassion became his reason for becoming a teacher - because a few words, a new education, was like opening a door to a new world.

After he received his bachelors degree in teaching, Brad moved to Atlanta to find a job. Tirelessly searching at over twenty schools, Bradley was running out of time. At every school, the same problem arose: his Tourette syndrome. Finally, on the twenty-sixth interview, Brad was hired by Mountain View Elementary. The reason that the school hired him was that they wanted the students to see that it is possible for them to learn even if they are different. Because he explained TS to his class of second graders and let them ask questioned about it, Brad was quickly accepted and loved. Brad Cohen lived the lesson of learning from your problems.

Over the years, Bradley’s relationship with his father was very rough. The reason his father had such a hard time with Brad’s Tourette’s was that it was a problem he couldn’t fix; and since it might be hereditary, Brad‘s father felt it was his fault for passing it on to his son. This feeling of responsibility weighed heavily on Mr. Cohen, and often resulted in him lashing out at Bradley. Once Mr. Cohen started to be involved in Bradley’s life through showing his support and love, the two began to have a strong relationship. Bradley Cohen later won Georgia’s First Year, Teacher of the Year Award, and is still teaching in Atlanta.

Front of the Class was a masterful film with an inspiring message. Through Brad Cohen’s example, it teaches us how to approach life. Learn from your disabilities. Always work hard. Never give up. Look at the world and see what you can do, not what you can’t do. The only real disability is the disability that you don’t learn from, use to make yourself stronger, or stops you from chasing your dreams.