Successful schools for young adolescents pose a challenge. If they did not exist, we could be more accepting of the status quo, if not more gratified by our results. The presence of these schools creates personal disequilibrium that leads either to denial or learning. On the one hand, we can stress the idiosyncratic set of circumstances and personalities that makes each of the successful schools a unique institution. On the other hand, we can look for the themes that thread their way through each of the school’s stories and their common, replicable elements. These schools are different because they are the same. It is this paradox that demands exploration.