After serving four years in the United States Navy, Michael Kersjes graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BS in Psychology and Special Education. He began his twenty two years of special education teaching in 1979 at Forrest Hills Public School where he also coached football at the high school and college level. He then went on to obtain a graduate degree in Administration and Secondary Education from Central Michigan University in 1980.
In 1987 Michael started the first self-contained program for Learning Disabled and Emotionally Impaired Children which was implemented across seven school districts. It was during this time he envisioned a world outside of the classroom for these special children. In 1989 he sent his first group of students to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL which literally opened up a new world to them. He then became the president and founder of Space is Special, Inc which has sent nearly two thousand six hundred special needs children to Space Camp since 1990. His work has led to grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA along with several awards and letters of commendation from the United States Department of Education, Vice President George Bush, and a Lifetime Enrichment Award for Special Education. His story was then made into a documentary for the Discovery Channel in 1997.
In 2002 he published, “A Smile as Big as the Moon”, which documents his struggles and victories as he sent his first class to Space Camp. His book is currently a required reading at various Universities and Community Colleges throughout the United States and was recently published in Japan. Michael has since relocated to Harvest, AL where he is currently working as a System Analyst for DMD. He continues to use his passion for teaching and coaching by performing motivational speeches across the U.S. and Canada.
The Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, A Smile as Big as the Moon, will air on ABC January 29, 2012. The movie will be sold in Hallmark stores across America starting January 30th.