For ten years high school janitor Rich Donato (LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS) has worked at Callahan High School, where he serves as a guidance counselor of sorts to the students. Rich's office door is always open to anyone who might need to talk - like Marcella, a student struggling with her parent's divorce, and Jake (A.J BUCKLEY), a newcomer who exels in sports but is embarassed to be in Ms. Ching's (JOAN CHEN) special education class. Rich encourages all the students to strive for the best and emphasizes the importance of a good education.
School was never Rich's forte and he finds it ironic that he ended up working in the very place he couldn't wait to get out of . Though it wasn't talked about much when Rich was in school, he suffered from attention deficit disorder and a mild form of dyslexia. Rich also never received a high school diploma.
Rich's wife, Shari (CARA BUONO) discovers she is pregnant and is about to share the news with Rich when he tells her some unexpected news of his own. The school board has sent him a letter, stating it has come to their attention that he doesn't have a high school diploma, which is mandatory for all public school employees. In order to keep his job he must pass the GED (General Education Diploma). Rich confides in special education teacher Linda Ching, and she offers to tutor him after school. Unbeknownst to Rich, a meeting is held at the school and Shari pleads to the school board on Rich's behalf. When the parents seem reluctant to help, Jake stands up and says he'll help Rich study for the test. More students follow Jake's lead and volunteer to tutor Rich. Between classes and after school, the kids give Rich a crash course in general studies.
Rich ends up taking and failing the test three times. Just when he's about to give up, he receives a call from the school board administrator informing him that he was never required to take the GED. THe clause regarding a high school diploma only affects new applicants seeking employment.
Rich is delighted that he can keep his job, but something in him has changed. It's no longer about having to take a test to prove himself to the school board, to the kids or even his wife. Rich decides to take the GED or a fourth time, not because he has to but because he wants to - for himself. Rich's courage and determination ultimately pay off and he passes the test.
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