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TV Movie About Central High Graduate

Bill Myer and Brad Cohen

The true story of Parkway Central graduate Brad Cohen, who was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and went on to become an award-winning teacher in Atlanta, aired as a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" TV presentation on December 7 on CBS (channel 4, KMOV).

"Front of the Class," as the movie is titled, is based on Cohen's book of a similar name, Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had. Hallmark chose the movie as its holiday film after Brad appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and then pitched his story to Hallmark.

In the movie and in real life, Cohen credits Bill Myer, his former principal at Parkway Central Junior and Senior High schools, for helping him achieve success. Myer knew how much Brad suffered with Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder of the brain that causes involuntary movements and vocalizations known as tics. At Central Junior -- now known as Central Middle -- Myer also knew how important it was to help Brad educate the school about his tics.

So one day after the entire school attended an orchestra concert, Myer asked Brad to come forward to talk about Tourette's. They explained together about the tics, and how Brad could not control them. That moment was a turning point in Brad's life.

“A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders,” recalls Brad of that day. "I took the initiative to educate people. Mr. Myer showed me that a little bit of education can go a long way.”

That day, in fact, is captured vividly in the movie. “It is one of my favorite scenes in the movie,” says Brad today. “The director agrees with me. He said it was the one scene he needed to get right, so he spent almost 8 hours shooting it.”

“You’ll see a cameo of me and my wife as current teachers in this scene,” adds Brad. “We stand in the back of the auditorium as little Brad goes up to the front with Mr. Myer.”

“Mr. Myer was ahead of his time in many ways to treat kids with special needs in an appropriate way,” adds Brad. “I hated school because I wasn’t accepted. All I wanted was to be treated like all the other kids. Mr. Myer gave me that chance…then I made the best of it and moved forward.”

After Parkway, Brad faced plenty of uphill battles to become a teacher, both in college and from prospective employers. But he persevered and kept a positive attitude. From his own experience, he says he knows how important it is to connect with students and concentrate on their strengths.

His goal for the movie is to make a difference in the lives of millions of TV viewers across the nation.” If early reviews of the movie are any indication, that goal will be achieved. One Purdue University professor caught a sneak preview of the movie and shared his reaction on the Internet: 'Brad Cohen's story is a triumph of hope, determination, will and relentless good humor.'"

"I’m very excited to celebrate these positive times in my life with so many people," says Brad. Naturally, he's invited Bill Myer to the Hollywood premiere of the movie. Myer, who is now retired from Parkway, says he wouldn’t miss it for the world. “I am thrilled for Brad,” he says.

“My story reminds people that just because you are a little different or may have some sort of weakness, you can still be successful,” adds Brad.

To learn more about the movie and the book, please visit Brad’s Web site, www.classperformance.com

To see Bill Myer talk about the movie click: Bill Myer, clip one and Bill Myer, clip two.