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Month 4: Education
Read a book about the transformative power of education.
A Smile as Big as the Moon by
Mike Kersjes always believed that his students could do anything, even attend the prestigious Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, where some of America's best and brightest high school students compete in a variety of activities similar to those experienced by NASA astronauts training for space shuttle missions. The challenge was convincing everyone else that the kids in his special education class, with disabilities including Tourette's syndrome, Down's syndrome, dyslexia, eating disorders,and a variety of emotional problems, would benefit from the experience and succeed. InA Smile as Big as the Moon, Kersjes explains how, 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 finally opened its doors. After nine months of rigorous preparation, Kersjes's class arrived at Space Camp, where they turned in a performance beyond everyone's expectations.
Three Cups of Tea by
In 1993, following a failed attempt to ascend K2, Greg Mortenson was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers in Pakistan and promised to build them a school. From that rash, earnest promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time--Mortenson's one-man mission to counteract extremism by building schools, especially for girls, throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban. Award-winning journalist David Oliver Relin has collaborated on this spellbinding account of Mortenson's incredible accomplishments in a region where Americans are often feared and hated. Over the following decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools. Three Cups of Tea is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring story of how one man really is changing the world--one school at a time.
Rocket Boys by
"Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn't know my home town was at war with itself over its children, and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives. I didn't know that if a girl broke your heart, another girl, virtuous at least in spirit, could mend it on the same night. And I didn't know that the enthalpy decrease in a converging passage could be transformed into jet kinetic energy if a divergent passage was added. The other boys discovered their own truths when we built our rockets, but those were mine." So begins Homer "Sonny" Hickam Jr.'s extraordinary memoir of life in Coalwood, West Virginia-a hard-scrabble little company town where the only things that mattered were coal mining and high school football. But in 1957, after the Soviet satellite Sputnik shot across the Appalachian sky, Sonny and his teenaged friends decided to do their bit for the U.S. space race by building their own rockets—and Coalwood, Sonny and A powerful story of growing up and of getting out, of a mother's love and a father's fears, Homer Hickam's memoir Rocket Boys proves, like Angela's Ashes and Russell Baker's Growing Up before it, that the right storyteller and the right story can touch readers' hearts and enchant their souls. In a town where the only things that mattered were coal-mining and high-school football, where the future was regarded with more fear than hope, a young man watched the Soviet satellite Sputnik race across the West Virginia sky—and soon found his future in the stars. In 1957, Homer H. "Sonny" Hickam, Jr., and a handful of his friends were inspired to start designing and launching the home-made rockets that would change their lives and their town forever. Looking back after a distinguished NASA career, Hickam shares the story of his youth, taking readers into the life of the little mining town of Coalwood and the boys who would come to embody its dreams. Step by step, with the help (and occasional hindrance) of a collection of unforgettable characters, the boys learn not only how to turn scrap into sophisticated rockets that fly miles into the sky, but how to sustain their dreams as they dared to imagine a life beyond its borders in a town that the postwar boom was passing by. Rocket Boys has already caught the eye of Hollywood: The producer of Field of Dreams is now working to produce a major motion picture in time for next year's Academy Awards. A uniquely endearing story with universal themes of class, family, coming of age, and the thrill of discovery, Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys is evocative, vivid storytelling at its most magical.
Teacher Man by
In this tribute to teachers everywhere. McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments, singalongs and field trips. As he struggles to find his way in the classroom, he spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story to paper. The book shows McCourt developing his ability to tell a great story as he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly or indifferent adolescents. His rocky marriage, his failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he finally finds a place and a voice.
The Freedom Writers Diary by
Publication Date: 1999-10-12
Straight from the front line of urban America, the inspiring story of one fiercely determined teacher and her remarkable students. As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of "unteachable, at-risk" students. One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust--only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the "Freedom Writers" in homage to the civil rights activists "The Freedom Riders." With funds raised by a "Read-a-thon for Tolerance," they arranged for Miep Gies, the courageous Dutch woman who sheltered the Frank family, to visit them in California, where she declared that Erin Gruwell's students were "the real heroes." Their efforts have paid off spectacularly, both in terms of recognition--appearances on "Prime Time Live" and "All Things Considered," coverage in People magazine, a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley--and educationally. All 150 Freedom Writers have graduated from high school and are now attending college. With powerful entries from the students' own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students. The authors' proceeds from this book will be donated to The Tolerance Education Foundation, an organization set up to pay for the Freedom Writers' college tuition. Erin Gruwell is now a visiting professor at California State University, Long Beach, where some of her students are Freedom Writers.
Dangerous Minds by
She bullied, bluffed, and bribed her students into caring about school. And if that didn't work, the pretty, petite ex-marine told them she'd been trained to kill with her bare hands. They were called the class from Hell-thirty-four inner city sophomores she inherited from a teacher who'd been "pushed over the edge." She was told "those kids have tasted blood. They're dangerous." But LouAnne Johnson had a different idea. Where the school system saw thirty-four unreachable kids, she saw young men and women with intelligence and dreams. When others gave up on them, she broke the rules to give them the best things a teacher can give-hope and belief in themselves. When statistics showed the chances were they'd never graduate, she fought to beat the odds. This is her remarkable story-and theirs. If you loved "Stand and Deliver, "you'll stand up and cheer for LouAnne Johnson and "Dangerous Minds."