When wealthy Tyler refuses to invite Orlando to his party and mocks Orlando's cheap sneakers, Nick must prevent a fight. He finds out that Orlando is sensitive about being from a poor family. But after promising to buy lunch for Orlando, Nick gets an urgent call for an audition and cancels the lunch. Since Orlando bragged about going to lunch with a teacher, the other kids now insult him for being abandoned. Orlando furiously stalks off. Later, the other kids inform Nick that Orlando barricaded himself in the school's boiler room. When Nick tries to get him out, he discovers that the room is full of electronic supplies and valuables that janitor Lloyd has been stealing for years. Lloyd appears and almost chokes Nick before a security guard takes him away. Nick tells the others that Orlando found the stolen materials and was able to run for help, thanks to his sneakers. Orlando becomes the school hero, and Nick realizes that teaching is rewarding.
After flirting with beautiful Melanie Hale, Nick finds out that she is Tyler's divorced mother. Nevertheless, Nick dates Melanie, despite Mezz's warnings. Soon, problems arise. Tyler expects special treatment from Nick. When Nick scolds Tyler during class like a parent, Tyler is humiliated. Nick realizes that dating a student's mother is risky, and he apologizes to Tyler. Meanwhile, in an effort to achieve his goal of becoming the vice principal of the school, Fust tries to act nicer towards people.
Mezz warns Nick not to meddle in other people's personal lives; but when Nick teases Elana about her boring, predictable relationship with her fiancÃ©, Roger, Elana believes Nick's comments and ends her marriage engagement. Nick tries to reunite the couple by getting them both to come to a school dance. But Elana realizes how much fun life is without Roger, and she rebuffs him. Elana tells Roger that she actually loves Nick. Nick, who is infatuated with Elana, joyfully declares his feelings for her. But later, Nick is disappointed when Elana tells him that she was pretending because Roger was present; she doesn't love Nick. Nick acts as if he were lying too. He realizes Mezz was right. Meanwhile, it's the first dance for Nick's students, and he must struggle to relieve their anxiety. Sarah and Orlando are the only ones who don't go as a ""couple"" -- and the only ones who end up enjoying themselves.
The imperious Dean of Discipline, Kurt Fust, tells Nick that he must take a study course in classroom management in order to continue teaching at the school. Although he is nervous about being a student again, Nick is even more upset to learn that his instructor is Fust. Fust enjoys making the class especially difficult for Nick. To prepare for the final examination that determines whether or not Nick will remain the kids' teacher, Nick studies all night with his friends Mezz Crosby and the beautiful and caring social studies teacher Elana Lewis. When Fust declares that Nick has failed because he incorrectly answered a particularly difficult question on educational theory, Nick's highly intelligent student Sarah enlightens Fust with the latest data from a psychological journal. To the delight of the kids in his class, Nick passes! Meanwhile, worried that she will be ostracized because of her superior intelligence, Sarah changes the topic of her class presentation from a classic literar
To promote unity among his class, Nick has the students prepare a presentation for the school on dental hygiene. However, when Orlando is awarded a lead role, Tyler vows to ruin the production. Rehearsals go so poorly that Fust threatens to dissolve Nick's class at the end of the semester. This motivates the kids to use teamwork and put together a great presentation. Meanwhile, when Nick cannot attend a sports event with Mezz, Nick gives his ticket to crafts teacher Yaroker, and Mezz is miserable when Yaroker tries to be his new best friend.
Fust judges a school art contest, in which the students must create a sculpture of someone they admire. No longer content to be overshadowed by his pal Tyler, Jared makes a bust of Fust and wins first prize--as well as Fust's overbearing praise. But the other kids tease Jared, so he steals the bust and hides it. While Fust searches for the sculpture, Jared confides to Nick that he hid it. Nick tries to hide the statue in his classroom and accidentally shatters it. When Fust finds a broken piece, he vows to punish everyone in the class unless someone admits their guilt. Jared confesses, but the other students each claim to have broken it too. Finally, Fust gives up. The students consider Jared a hero because they think that he was sacrificing himself to protect Nick. Meanwhile, Yaroker exaggerates his personal qualities when he registers with a dating service.
Fust favors Orlando because he is on the school's winning soccer team. When Mezz fails Orlando in science, Fust is upset. Mezz gives Orlando a chance to get a good grade if he creates a science project within one day. Nick volunteers to help Orlando, but Orlando chooses to play a soccer game instead. Finally, Nick and Mezz inform Orlando that he must complete the project by himself on the day of the championship soccer game or he will fail the class. When Orlando tells Fust that he won't be able to play in the game, Fust is furious with him, but Orlando learns to be responsible. Mezz realizes he should be more flexible in his grading, and Nick admits that sometimes he needs to be stricter with the students.
Desperate for cash when his car needs repairs, Nick accepts an acting job in a cigarette commercial to be aired in France. When his students find out, they chastise Nick for being a poor role model. During filming, Nick finally realizes that his self-respect is more important than money, and he quits. Meanwhile, Orlando competes against his tough, gregarious classmate Anna-Maria Del Bono for class president. At first, he campaigns on the issues, but Anna-Maria wins potential votes by giving away free pizza. Then, at Tyler's instigation, Orlando becomes more superficial and makes outlandish campaign promises. Anna-Maria ultimately wins by threatening the other students, but Orlando learns to be true to himself.
When Fust accepts a promotion to an administrative job in another area, Nick is named the new dean of discipline. Nick changes all the rules and allows the kids to have fun like never before. But soon the students plan more and more outrageous pranks, and chaos reigns. When Nick finally realizes that he must be stricter, the kids resent him because they thought he was their friend. With Elana's help, Nick convinces his nemesis Fust to return to his former job, allowing Nick to do the same -- and Nick immediately resumes provoking Fust.
A famous actor, Bobby Moore, once Nick's roommate, comes to Nick's class to research a movie role as a class clown. While Nick idolizes Bobby, he is also jealous of Bobby's success and insecure about his own decision not to pursue acting. At first, Bobby's antics are amusing, but he soon disrupts the class and shows disrespect for the literature that Nick teaches. Nick realizes that he is proud to be a teacher. Later, after Elana declines a date with Nick, he sees her at a restaurant with Bobby. Nick angrily confronts Bobby and tells Elana that he is attracted to her. Elana admits that she liked what Nick said. Meanwhile, when Davey has trouble learning material for a scholastic contest, Nick devises an innovative way to teach him.
It's time for the annual reading aptitude tests, which measure not only the progress of the students but the effectiveness of their teachers. Since they want to make Nick look good, the students in his class all agree to cheat by looking at the highly intelligent Sarah's perfect test answers. After Fust locks up the completed examinations, Nick finds out that his class cheated. Admonishing them that cheating is never good no matter what the motivation, he makes them retake the test. Late at night, Nick and Elana break into the school and replace the fraudulent completed tests with the honest ones. Later, the slightly above-average test results indicate that Nick is a positive influence on the students. During their undercover adventure, Nick and Elana share their first kiss, after a long period of denial and confusion about their mutual attraction.
Despite sharing their first kiss, Nick and Elana decide not to date since they work so closely together. Then an attractive student teacher Heather Kellogg is assigned to Elana's class, and Nick asks Heather on a date. When Elana gives Heather a poor review, Nick assumes that it was because Elana is petty and jealous, and they argue. But when Heather is reassigned to Nick's class, he finds out that she is incompetent and deserved the bad recommendation. He apologizes to Elana. Meanwhile, during a class assignment they work on together, Tyler and Sarah become attracted. They kiss in private. However, they revert back to their usual adversarial relationship after the other students inadvertently find out and tease them.
Mezz wants to date Diane Fox, the school's sexy computer specialist whom he has known since they attended school together. Diane was never interested in Mezz because she is adventurous, so Nick vows to remove Mezz's inhibitions. Nick invites Mezz, Diane and Elana to dinner at a restaurant on top of a tall building. While the women are in the bathroom after dinner, Nick and Mezz climb out onto an overhanging gargoyle. Instead of being impressed, their dates have no idea where they went. Stranded, the guys must be rescued by a police helicopter. Meanwhile, when Fust rejects the students' ideas for the school newspaper, the kids revolt in pursuit of journalistic freedom.
Fust wants to impress the visiting school board chairperson, Mrs. Fleckner, so she will promote him to assistant principal. Meanwhile, to show that his students have a lot to learn from their elders, Nick invites the school's beloved old security guard Phil to tell the kids about his life. When Mrs. Fleckner visits Nick's classroom, Nick surprises Phil with a 73rd-birthday party. Mrs. Fleckner immediately tells Fust that if he wants to become the assistant principal he must terminate Phil because he is past the mandatory retirement age. Despite Nick's begging and a coordinated effort from the students, Fust refuses to reconsider terminating Phil. Then, at the board meeting where Fust is to be promoted, Nick and his students burst in to support Phil. Fust finally relents. During a romantic dinner, he convinces Mrs. Fleckner to promote Phil to security consultant--with no age limitâ€”and hire a younger guard. However, Fust sacrifices his own promotion. Meanwhile, Nick and Mezz are afraid t
The school's band hosts a fund-raiser to earn money for new equipment. Everyone in the school gets involved recycling cans and donating the redeemed deposit money. Nick and Mezz relive their childhood as they compete to determine whose class can get more money for the band. Finally, when both classes end up with the same amount, Nick and Mezz decide to settle their rivalry in an unusual forum: a sumo wrestling ring. The match results in a tie. Meanwhile, Sarah wants to look like the other girls in her class, so she consults the popular Anna-Maria for makeup helpâ€”with surprising results.
Tyler's wealthy, divorced father wants to enroll him in a more prestigious school, but Tyler confides in Nick that he would rather stay where he is. When Tyler confronts his parents based on Nick's advice, they argue. Tyler moves into Nick's apartment, uninvited. He also asks his young friends to come over for a party. However, at the same time, Nick's apartment unexpectedly becomes the site of a wild bachelor party for Yaroker, who plans to marry a woman he impregnated while fighting in the Korean War. During the chaos caused by both parties, Tyler's father arrives and is outraged. Later, however, he realizes that Nick actually is a good role model. He allows Tyler to stay at the school. Meanwhile, Yaroker's fiancÃ©e decides that she would rather live in Korea with her teenage son than marry Yaroker.
When Nick scares the other teachers with a prank, they vow revenge. Later, Elana introduces Nick to her sexy accountant friend Suzanne Wilkinson, whom he quickly asks on a date. They have a great time. After a second date, Suzanne calls Nick incessantly and sends gifts. Nick becomes worried that she is obsessed with him. Elana informs him that Suzanne is afraid of commitment, so Nick should propose marriage to scare her away. Unfortunately, Suzanne acceptsâ€”to the delight of her brutish policeman brothers and priest uncle. Finally, everyone tells the terrified Nick that it was all a practical joke on him. Meanwhile, Sarah and Orlando agree that Valentine's Day is silly. They decide to kiss and find out why everyone thinks it is so great. After some overanalyzing and lack of confidence, they kiss--and discover they like it. Also, Tyler tries to find out who sent him an anonymous Valentine. And Tyler and Jared give romantic advice to a love-sick Davey.
Nick organizes the annual student/teacher talent show. In keeping with the 1970s theme, everyone prepares to impersonate their favorite popular icons. Fust and Mezz argue over which of them should portray a particular soul singer. Elana wants to sing a depressing rock ballad. When Nick meets Elana's divorced mother and realizes that she's the famous entertainer Lainie Lane, he makes her the star of the show. Nick always idolized and lusted after her from afar. Lainie offers to sing an upbeat rendition of the same ballad that Elana practiced, not knowing her daughter planned to sing that song. Later, realizing that this upset Elana, Nick tries to tell Lainie. But Lainie kisses him before he can explain, and Elana accidentally witnesses it. Nick apologizes to Elana. He also helps her communicate better with Lainie. The show is a success.
Nick doesn't know the magnitude of his task when he tries to reform the worst student in the school, Harrison Schneck, whom Fust wants to expel. Nick takes the troublemaker into his classroom, and the situation becomes nightmarish. Out of desperation, Nick asks Yaroker for some unorthodox help. Ultimately, Nick allows the misunderstood Harrison to discover his natural aptitude for fixing things. Meanwhile, when the other students jealously taunt Orlando and Sarah for dating, the new couple fights back.
Nick must finally get rid of his dilapidated old car. When he visits a sly car dealer, Nick becomes enamored with an expensive sports car and buys it. He dotes on it so obsessively that the other teachers worry about his sanity. Meanwhile, Jared feels sorry for a stray dog and, since his parents forbid pets, he hides it in Nick's classroom, to Fust's dismay. Unfortunately, the dog escapes. While searching for it with Jared, Nick leaves his car unattended. Later, he finds the dog but also finds his beloved car vandalized. Nick is upset, but he realizes that a living animal is more important than an inanimate automobile. Jared helps the dog find a good home, and Nick continues to drive his new carâ€”which now, stripped of its fancy accouterments, looks a lot like his old car did....
Nick refuses to administer a required career-aptitude test to his class because he believes the examination is unfair. Fust suspends Nick from teaching and makes the kids take the test anyway. Orlando is distressed when his results indicate that he is unsuitable for his desired career as an artist. Nick abandons his fight to be reinstated when he unexpectedly reunites with his former high school girlfriend Lindsey Meritt, who invites him to a rock music festival. (Part 1 of 2)
After being relieved of his teaching duties for refusing to administer a career-aptitude test that he considers unfair, Nick accepts an invitation from his former high school girlfriend to attend a rock music festival. Meanwhile, Fust denies Orlando admission to an art-enrichment program because the test results show that Orlando has no potential to be an artist. Upset, Orlando tries to sell his drawings on the street. Nick finally overcomes his desire to be irresponsible after Mezz and the students show him how much he means to them. And Elana provides another incentive for Nick to return when she kisses him. Nick confronts the school board, insists that Orlando be allowed to enroll in the art course and gets his job back.
Nick returns from summer vacation to discover that the middle school has become the Gerald R. Ford High School for troubled teenagers, and immediately locks horns with the new principal, brilliant Dr. Katherine Emerson. She is a college professor from the Midwest who has written a book about urban education but has yet to test her theories in real life -- and is unimpressed with Nick's unorthodox teaching style. Already at a loss over how to reach the older students, Nick suffers a bigger loss when Elana calls to end their relationship.
When Marco is too upset over the end of his relationship to complete a poetry assignment, Nick discusses his own failed relationship in an attempt to relate to Marco better. Nick hopes that this will prove to Emerson that his unusual teaching techniques are effective. However, problems occur when Nick unwittingly asks Marco's former girlfriend out on a date. Meanwhile, Mezz concocts a potion to help Miles attract girls. Unfortunately, Emerson's attempts to get to know the students personally cause Miles to assume that he has attracted Emerson.
When his students mischievously use the school's public address system, Nick makes excuses for them, hoping to become their friend. Mezz warns him that once the students consider him a friend, they won't respect him as a teacher. Nick finds out that this is true when he encounters underage Sophia at a nightclub and ruins her evening by making her leave. The students get revenge on Nick by misbehaving during Emerson's evaluation of Nick, jeopardizing his job.
When Emerson adds a newsletter to the curriculum, Nick asks the kids to write articles on whatever is important to them. Tasha surprises everyone with her poignant story about living in a housing project. But Nick must find a way to help her when its discovered that she fabricated the entire story to gain acceptance from her classmates. After Jordan writes about his relationship with Sophia, Marco demands that he prove that it is true by bringing Sophia's bra to school. And Miles expounds on what it is like to quit smoking cigarettes. Actually, he is only wearing a nicotine patch because he thinks girls admire someone who is overcoming a habit.
When Nick learns that a producer is looking for a real teacher to host an educational local television show, he thinks he will finally achieve his dream of being an actor. During Nick's in-class audition, Mezz uses dry ice to provide a dramatic background to Nick's lesson--and the producer hires Mezz instead. Nick is disappointed but urges Mezz to accept the job. Mezz insists that Nick be included in the show in some way. During the fancy live show that mixes entertainment with science, Marco serves as Mezz's cohost, and Sophia and the other girls dance. Nick's role is to demonstrate the effect on motor coordination of drinking too much alcohol. But when he gets drunk, Nick berates Mezz on the air for ruining Nick's opportunity. The show is canceled. Later, Mezz and Nick reconcile. Nick agrees to express his feelings more, and he also realizes that he is perfectly happy teaching instead of acting. Meanwhile, Jordan plans a school calendar featuring sexy photographs of his female classm
When Sophia is terminated from her part-time job at a fast-food restaurant, Nick helps her and the other students realize what they would love to do for work. Sophia gets a job at a cosmetics counter--a job she loves so much that she quits school. Nick feels very guilty about Sophia's decision and is preoccupied with it during a date with Emerson's pretty cousin.
Nick's rapport with the students prompts Emerson to ask him to teach a seminar on human sexuality. However, Nick encounters trouble when the kids' desire for a frank and honest discussion conflicts with the strict guidelines of the school district. In particular, Tasha craves advice because her boyfriend Trey is pressuring her to have sex with him. Nick closes the door and tells the students what they need to know. Later, Tasha's parents mistakenly think that Nick has told Tasha that it's okay for her to have sex. But Tasha and her boyfriend actually listened to Nick's advice to wait. Meanwhile, Miles is grateful when Marco defends him from a school bully. But when Miles later purposely seeks out a confrontation with the bully, Marco refuses to help Miles, teaching him not to take advantage of a favor.
Nick's former geometry teacher Mr. Farb is hired to teach at Gerald R. Ford High School. Still remembering the constant verbal abuse he suffered in Mr. Farb's class, Nick defends Jordan when Mr. Farb chooses him as his new class victim. However, Farb easily outwits Nick by gaining Emerson's favor. Meanwhile, Sophia and Tasha must build a birdhouse for Yaroker's class. Sophia convinces Marco to construct the project for them, but Tasha believes that girls are just as capable at carpentry. When Sophia sees Marco's handiwork, she agrees.
When the school experiences a severe budget crisis, Emerson announces a carnival to earn revenue. While everyone is planning the event, Jordan begins arriving late to school and failing to do his homework. Nick meets with Jordan's parents and discovers that Jordan may be unhappy because they constantly bicker. Nick thinks he has helped Jordan's parents' relationship, but Jordan later blames Nick for their upcoming divorce. Even worse, Jordan ignores his friends and drinks alcohol during school. Meanwhile, the budget problems seem to have no effect on Mezz, who easily acquires all the supplies he requests from Emerson. But Mezz soon realizes that Emerson is overcompensating because he is black and she is afraid of treating him differently.
Frustrated by her poor grades, Sophia shuns her friends' study group and joins a violent gang instead. However, she must decide who her real friends are when the gang's initiation requires her to beat up Tasha. Meanwhile, Nick becomes enamored with the attractive school nurse. And Yaroker tries to contract influenza so he won't have to come to work.
Jordan becomes the star of the wrestling team when he qualifies for a lower weight class, enabling him to win more matches. Although he enjoys the attention, especially from Sophia, he must literally starve himself before each contest. Meanwhile, Emerson must act as a referee between Sophia and Tasha, who insult each other using the school newspaper as their forum.
During a tutoring session, Tasha and Marco kiss, and he becomes infatuated with her. But Tasha explains that she wants to remain just friends, something that Marco is not accustomed to hearing. He does everything he can to gain her love. Meanwhile, despite Nick's protests, Mezz invites Emerson to come to a sports bar with Nick and him. Nick becomes competitive when Emerson easily beats him at pool.
Nick discovers that the ""prayer group"" Jordan is conducting in the classroom is actually a gambling operation, and that Jordan owes unscrupulous moneylender Foster a huge amount of money. When the police get involved, they use Nick to capture Mr. Foster at an Italian restaurant where Miles works after school.
Although Sophia's wealthy new boyfriend Michael seems to be the perfect guy, he always takes her to places where he knows she won't meet his friends. Fearing that he is ashamed of her background, Sophia convinces Michael to bring her to a party hosted by his friends. For emotional support, Sophia brings Marco, Miles, Jordan and Tasha. When Michael condescends to Sophia's friends, she realizes she no longer wants to date him. Meanwhile, Nick becomes so mesmerized by an expensive cashmere jacket that Mezz agrees to charge it to his credit card if Nick promises to return it within three days -- not realizing that the jacket has a magical quality that no one, not even Yaroker, can resist.
Sophia adores the baby of her friend Annie, until Sophia must baby-sit during a study session at Sophia's home. When Annie doesn't return until the next morning, Sophia confronts the reality of parental responsibility. Meanwhile, Mezz finds out that grouchy Yaroker has a weakness for cute babies. Nick's love life couldn't get worse when his first date with a woman is also his last with her. Emerson advises him, suggesting that Nick may be afraid of commitment.
All Nick's worldly possessions are destroyed when his apartment building burns down. Forced to move in with Mezz, a nearly penniless Nick contemplates his past and future. He worries that his life has no meaning and writes a play that he hopes will impress people. At first, everyone avoids admitting to Nick how terrible his play is. Mezz belatedly tells him the truth after Nick spends his meager savings to rent a theater for the play. Meanwhile, Sophia's talented sisters Gina and Maria prepare to leave New York and move to Los Angeles to pursue singing careers. Sophia, who sings with them, resents being left at home because she is too young. But Sophia's own vocal ability is indispensible when the school hosts a successful benefit for the destitute Nick at the theater he rented.
When Nick meets Samantha, the sexy maintenance supervisor of his new apartment house, he purposely breaks things so he can see her when she comes to fix them. However, his attempts to start a romance may cause trouble when he realizes that he is overburdening Samantha with his requests. Meanwhile, Tasha dates Johnny, the star of the basketball team. Despite Johnny's persistent demands that she have sex with him, Tasha refuses. Rather than admit that Tasha ended the relationship, Johnny starts a rumor about Tasha.
Now that Nick is dating his maintenance supervisor, Samantha, who is also an artist, he jealously chases away a male model that Samantha intended to paint. She convinces Nick to pose nude for her instead. Nick is thrilled that the artwork is one of Samantha's bestâ€”but mortified to learn that it will be displayed at an art show that his students will attend. Meanwhile, Marco and Jordan team up to buy a car with some help from Jordan's father. However, problems occur when Jordan wants to share the car on a day when Marco wanted it all for himself.
After Jordan is robbed on his way to school, Marco advises him to be more confident. However, Jordan takes this advice too seriously when he buys a handgun. Meanwhile, Emerson bids on Nick at a charity auction. He must do whatever she wishes, and that means designing a school bulletin board. Luckily, Yaroker helps Nick. Since no one else will bid for Miles, Sophia and Tasha pay a tiny amount for Miles to do everything they order him to.
Sophia is ecstatic when photographer Byron Davis compliments her and offers to put her picture on the cover of a catalog. She immediately goes to Byron's studio and models a skimpy robe. Suspicious, Tasha has Jordan access the Internet, and they discover that Byron posts nude photographs of his models for a fee. Just as Byron demands that Sophia take the robe off, Nick and the kids burst in with the police. Sophia is disappointed about her failed career opportunity but grateful to Tasha. Meanwhile, after breaking Samantha's toe while practicing dancing, Nick feels guilty. He insists on doing all the repair jobs in the apartment building for herâ€”with disastrous results. Also, Emerson disorients the staff by rearranging the faculty lounge.
Due to his relatively new relationship with Samantha, Nick neglects Mezz. First, he fails to help Mezz construct a biosphere on the roof of the school. The large, enclosed ecological system is intended to simulate nature in a controlled environment, and all the students and teachers participate in the experiment. Then, Nick forgets to meet Mezz at a basketball game, and Mezz gets sick from waiting for him in the rain. Meanwhile, when Nick pairs his students for ecological projects, Sophia and Jordan make clothes from recycled garbage and Marco surprises Tasha by constructing a solar-powered model car. When Nick, Mezz and a claustrophobic Emerson get locked overnight in the biosphere, Nick and Mezz reconcile, and Nick promises to balance his time between Samantha and Mezz.