It doesn’t surprise me at all that Blender is taking over in schools. Today, the product does have professional-grade features and implement professional techniques to produce professional-grade results … and yet it costs nothing. Students can learn the approaches and work-flows that all of the “other” tools use, and this is the place to begin. Once you fully understand what you want to do with a tool, it’s easy to transfer that knowledge to any other tool.
Furthermore, an increasing number of professional shops are standardizing on Blender. Perhaps not the “giant motion-picture studios,” who understandably use different tool-chains, but it’s become a great big world out there. “Blender Has Arrived.” In any list of “professional” tools, Blender must be included.