Meet Megan Mann of Jefferson Elementary in Hammond, Indiana
by Matthew
February 3, 2022

We’re delighted to introduce you to Megan Mann.

Megan is a media tech specialist who has spent the past five years connecting kids with books at Jefferson Elementary in Hammond, Indiana. She’ll be our host when the bus stops by Jefferson next October.

Megan was kind enough to tell us a bit about her school. Her words paint a picture of the constant challenges faced by Title I educators—and the generosity of spirit they bring to the challenge of serving their students.

WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?
I love when I finish reading a book and know exactly which student I can give it to. There’s nothing better than when they come back into the library and say, “Miss Mann, I LOVED this book, what else do you have for me?” Books have always been my greatest treasure, and now I get to turn my school’s library into a treasure chest with a giant X on it for all of the students here.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL MAKES YOU PROUDEST?
The sheer tenacity of our staff. I’m constantly impressed by the little moments that prove they care so much about the students.

WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL’S GREATEST CHALLENGE?
It’s always funding and not being heard. We live in a state where education isn’t exactly treated fairly, and it’s devastating. It’s not fair to these kids who just want to learn, and it’s not fair to the staff members who just want to do their damndest to make sure that happens.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES IF YOUR SCHOOL HAD MORE FUNDING?
Making sure our staff had adequate materials. We rely heavily on the kindness of others via Amazon wishlists and digging into our own pockets for a good deal of our classroom materials. If we had more funding, I’d have a stockpile of extra clothes, coats, hats, and gloves for those who can’t come prepared or have accidents.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SCHOOL TRADITIONS?
I’m a big fan of literacy night and trunk or treat. Really, anything that brings together staff, students, and parents outside of the classroom. It gives us all a chance to shed that weird layer of formality during school hours and just have FUN.

WHAT’S SOMETHING FUN OR QUIRKY ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL?
All of our district schools are named for presidents. That’s quirky, right?

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BUS TOUR WILL MEAN TO YOUR STUDENTS?
Oh my god. What won’t it mean to these kids? We’re in a lower income district and most of these kids come to the book fair with five dollars hoping for $15 books. Breaking their hearts is so hard. Especially after the last school year and now this school year when everything has been taken from them… I know this will thrill them and give them something to look forward to and talk about for weeks before and after. I mean, a busload of books?! They’ll moon over it!

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Thank you, Megan, for all that you do every day for the students of Jefferson Elementary! We can’t wait to meet you all.

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Recently:

The Busload of Books Tour is a year-long project to promote literacy and raise awareness of the challenges facing our nation’s public schools.

Author/illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (that’s us) and our four kids will spend the 2022-2023 school year traveling the country in a school bus/tiny home, visiting Title I schools in all 50 states (plus DC), and giving away 25,000 hardcover books to students and teachers from underserved communities.

As we travel, we will be blogging, vlogging and posting frequently to social media. All of our content will be appropriate for bringing families and students along on our ultimate road trip.

The latest on Instagram:

The Daily Minute: 12.9.22
In which, having just arrived in Texas, we plan to spend the night in Jasper County.

#busloadofbooks
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Robbi got this text from Erica Bridwell (known to friends and colleagues as “B”), the first-grade teacher who hosted Jasper during Tuesday’s visit to North Pike Elementary School in Summit, Mississippi. We signed a copy of Everywhere, Wonder for B, and Robbi had written in the dedication to “keep fighting the good fight.”
 
It’s a difficult time to be a teacher, especially at a school with limited resources and especially when serving kids who bring additional challenges to school. Educators need a boost every bit as much as their students do.
 
We’re sharing this to show that the tour is also for them, and maybe even more so. 
 
“We miss y’all! It felt like a part of us left when y’all did. Y’all have NO IDEA the impact you’re making not only on kids, but adults too! I haven’t had the easiest school year so far. I have felt defeated, frustrated, and overwhelmed. My connection with my students has felt faint and really nonexistent… I’ve struggled to find ways to motivate them, encourage them more… then y’all come along and somehow it has put fire back into me. Your words have made me reflect since I read them… “keep fighting the good fight…” it was powerful. I had that “full moon feeling” that feeling of how much I love what I do. I thought of what it means to me and what those kids mean to me. I remembered why God chose me to do this. Your kind words lifted me up. So thank you. Thank y’all. What y’all are doing is amazing! Safe travels! I’ll be following!”
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The Daily Minute: 12.8.22
In which we bask in the sweet Louisiana night and brace ourselves for the enormity of Texas.

#busloadofbooks
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Whoever you are, take your seat on the bus!

Our adventure is your adventure. Our country is your country, too. Follow along with us!