A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space Camp

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Macmillan, Feb 6, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
3 Reviews

Besides being a football coach at his Michigan High School, Mike Kersjes taught special education classes, dealing with children whose disabilities included Tourette syndrome, Downs Syndrome, dyslexia, eating disorders and a variety of emotional problems.

One autumn Kersjes got the outlandish idea that his students would benefit from going to Space Camp, where, in conjunction with NASA, high school students compete in a variety of activities similar to those experienced by astronauts in training for space shuttle missions. There was only one problem: this program had been specifically designed for gifted and talented students, the best and the brightest from America's most privileged high schools.

Kersjes believed that, given a chance, his kids could do as well as anybody, and with remarkable persistence broke down one barrier after another, from his own principal's office to the inner sanctum of NASA, until Space Camp opened its doors, on an experimental basis, to special ed students. After nine months of rigorous preparation, during which the class molded itself into a working team, they arrived at Space Camp, where they turned in a performance so startling, so surprising, that it will leave the reader breathless. A truly triumphant story of the power of the human spirit.

 

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A smile as big as the moon: a teacher, his class, and their unforgettable journey

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A high school special education teacher in Michigan, Kersjes faced enormous odds when he decided that he wanted his class to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, a program aimed at providing simulated ... Read full review

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The only thing authentic about this book was the fact that special needs students from Forest Hills Northern High School did indeed attend Space Camp. The assertion that Mike Kersjes had to battle building level administration, or that faculty and staff opposed what he and his teaching partner Robynn McKinney were trying to do for kids, is an outright fabrication. And truth be told, Robynn McKinney did the bulk of the work to make attendance at the camp a reality. Mike was a velry good front man for the operation.
Mike and his editors must have felt it necessary to make this portrayal to add drama to the story. Nothing could be further from the truth. I, along with the superintendent of schools at the time did everything in our power to help the group get to camp... while still expecting and demanding that Mr. Kersjes maintain his core mission to deliver quality instruction to the students in his charge.
I find it offensive that this book has gone to great lengths to paint a picture that is simply not true.
 

Selected pages

Contents

PROLOGUE
3
1
7
2
16
3
25
4
35
5
44
6
49
7
59
15
126
16
136
17
144
18
153
19
165
20
172
PART THREE
185
21
187

8
72
9
75
10
84
PART TWO
91
11
93
12
102
13
109
14
117
22
195
23
204
24
213
25
227
26
241
27
252
EPILOGUE
273
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Mike Kersjes is president of Space Is Special Inc., a not for profit organization that helps special education students enhance their science and mathematics skills using space as a motivational theme. Mike has been a special education teacher and football coach for over 20 years with the Forest Hills Public School system and is currently working with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the University of California, Irvine. The film rights for his book have been sold to Jerry Bruckheimer for Walt Disney Pictures. He lives in Grand Rapids MI.

Joe Layden is an award-winning journalist andNew York Times best selling author. He lives in upstate New York.

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