“Imagination is more important than knowledge” Albert Einstein.
In my education psychology class we are reading a novel called A Smile as Big as the Moon by Mike Kersjes. When I began reading, I couldn’t help but smile as I got further and further into the book. Let me give you a little sneak peak of what I’ve read so far. Mike Kersjes is a Special Education teacher and football coach at Forest Hills Northern High School in Michigan. He works with all different types of students who struggle with various special needs and disorders such as down’s syndrome, dyslexia, tourette’s, anger issues, etc… These kids were often picked on in school, and didn’t feel a sense of belonging or purpose. Mike came up with this crazy idea to organize a week long field trip to a prestigious space camp in Alabama that consists of performing activities and missions similar to the ones that NASA astronauts do in training. This camp is usually geared for gifted and talented students, so when Mike made a pitch to get permission to send his kids, people thought he was out of his mind! I mean, it did sound pretty crazy considering the large amounts of technology equipment, advanced science analogies, and preparation that went into this event.
But mike was determined and felt passionately about his students. He felt that these kids were entitled to go out and experience exciting new things just like everyone else. Not only will they be learning about science, but also valuable life lessons of collaboration, working together, as well as having some fun in the process. He didn’t let negative opinions get in the way of his vision and willingness of supporting these kids. “To me, teaching was, and is, all about rolling up your sleeves and connecting with your students on a human level, as well as an intellectual level…Sometimes you have to take chances.” (Kersjes 38) He was up for the challenge and ready to prove them wrong. With a lot of preparation and hard work, he finally succeeded in being granted permission to set up this trip.
Once Mike shared the good news to his students, from that day forward, the kids had something to look forward to. They had a better attitude about doing their work and started to come together as a team and working together, rather than putting others down. It was cool to see a transformation in all of the students as the novel progressed. This story is a refreshing read because it is truly inspiring and exciting to see how one can make a difference if you have your mind set on a goal and refuse to stop until that goal is met. I have not finished the book yet and don’t want to spoil major details, but I would definitely recommend this book for any teacher or aspiring teacher out there. I guarantee by the end of it, you too will be smiling as big as the moon.