First grade ‘Miracle Class’ earns special nickname in small Michigan town

Four Little Victors, four difficult journeys- one classroom

(From left to right) Kaine, Thomas, Maddie and Brody have given their 1st grade classroom the nickname "Miracle Class."

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilkinson Photography: (From left to right) Kaine, Thomas, Maddie and Brody have given their 1st grade classroom the nickname “Miracle Class.”

The first grade class at St. Joseph School has become locally famous in the rural, one-stoplight village of Pewamo.

It’s the classroom of seven-year-old Thomas Kramer, who had his first of three open heart surgeries at three days old. There’s Brody Smith, who began fighting leukemia just as he was learning to talk. Kaine Simon underwent an hours- long surgery on his skull at five months old.  And Madeline George’s biggest gift came two days after her first birthday: a new heart.

Their stories are what have earned Mrs. Connie Warczinsky’s classroom in this small town outside of Lansing an affectionate nickname: “The miracle class.”

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30 years of caring for hearts

Mike Perlstein looks back after three decades of being one of the "Leaders and Best"

echo tech - mike perlsteinFebruary 7, 2014, marked the last day Mike Perlstein came to work at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Since he joined the University of Michigan Health System in 1980, Mike has been a welcome fixture in the Congenital Heart Center. While he is looking forward to the freedom retirement brings, he looks back on his time caring for hearts at Mott fondly. As part of our Heart Month series of blog posts, we caught up with Mike to talk with him about his 3-decade legacy with the Leaders and Best for kids.

Q. How did you get started in a healthcare career?

A. After three years of military service I worked for a time at a foundry in my hometown of South Haven, Michigan. But I had wanted to move back to Ann Arbor, which I eventually did in early 1974, landing a position in the Drafting Department of Space Physics Research Lab on our North Campus. During my four years there, a developing interest in firefighting led me, ultimately, to entry into an Emergency Medical Technician program. It was there that “the lights went on,” and I was drawn to this field where I thought I could do something that could make a difference.

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