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A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Teacher, His…
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A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Teacher, His Class, and Their Unforgettable…

by Mike Kersjes

Other authors: Joe Layden (Contributor)

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Mike Kersjes a special education teacher (and football coach) in Grand Rapids Michigan gets a crazy idea -- to take his class of 20 spec ed high school students to the prestigious week-long Space Camp. His principal thinks its a crazy idea as well as the special ed coordinator for the school district. And so does the Space Camp director. But Mike knows that his kids can meet this challenge and he fights tooth and nail to accomplish it. Fortunately the area congressman is on the Space projects committee in Washington DC and he is able to get Mike an initial conference with the Camp directors. Although they are skeptical they agree to allow the teens to participate once they have been sufficiently trained by Mike and his aides. The process took nearly 2 years and $50,000.

What a joy this book was! The kids went from being the brunt of cruel jokes by the rest of the students in their school, and among themselves at times, to a proud, functioning team who truly learned to care for one another. During the 2 year process of training individual kids were found to have amazing talents and gifts that had never been encouraged before. Parents who loved their children but had stopped expecting them to excel were amazed at what their sons and daughters accomplished. If you want a feel-good read, and I warn you to expect a few tears along the way, I recommend this book highly.
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  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
This is the book I read for the book club we had in our class. It is a non fiction story about a special education teacher who has special dreams for his students. He is an incredible teacher who really strives for the best of his students and wants to them to achieve all their dreams. His special education class travels to Space Camp to win it big. This is brought about by one of his students named Ben who has down syndrome but has vivid dreams about becoming an astronaut one day. He does not let the fears of down syndrome get in his way of getting something he wants. Along the way Kersjes (the teacher) battles a lot of unforeseen moments including bullying and other obstacles but in the end only wants the best for his students. This chapter book was very motivating and made me think about why I want to become a teacher!!
  Jclark5 | Dec 7, 2014 |
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Mike Kersjesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Layden, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312273142, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Besides being a football coach at his Michigan high school, Mike Kersjes taught special education classes, dealing with children whose disabilities included Tourette's syndrome, Down's 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 he 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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