A Smile as Big as the Moon by Mike Kersjes
A Teacher, His Class, and Their Unforgettable Journey

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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.


About Mike Kersjes

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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. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. JOE LAYDEN is an award-winning journalist and author of over 20 books. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Published April 1, 2007 by St. Martin's Press. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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When he proposes to send them to space camp—an intense week-long program aimed at gifted kids and packed with hands-on demonstrations, scientific competitions, and simulated space-shuttle missions, with every class ranked on the final day—his students love the idea, but his superiors hate it.

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Publishers Weekly

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From a magazine article, educator Kersjes learned that students from all over the country could spend six days training and living like astronauts at Space Camp, a 450-acre theme park, museum and educational center at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.

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