Best School (2006)
It's not often you go to a middle-school graduation and see a student who's finally moving on after 18 years and see that student get applauded as if it were a real accomplishment. But that's the beauty of HISD's T.H. Rogers school. Former district superintendent Billy Reagan, an Asia buff, says he experienced "satori" -- what he calls a type of "mental orgasm" -- when the idea for Rogers hit him in the '70s. (When you're talking with Billy Reagan, you don't really want the image of any kind of orgasm coming to mind, but that's another matter.) Ordered to mainstream mentally and physically handicapped kids, he decided to put them in a magnet school with talented and gifted students. The two populations don't just get along great, they're learning things they might otherwise never experience. The impaired kids can attend the school until they're 21; the Vanguard students go from kindergarten through eighth grade. The curriculum for those K-8 students is tough, but some of the best lessons are learned in the hallways and cafeteria.
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