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: 6.18.24
In which Robbi takes an early-morning drive along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.
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The Daily Minute: 6.18.24
In which Robbi reports from a rainforest near Anchorage.
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And they’re off!
 
Robbi and the kids (the dogs) left home early afternoon yesterday. They flew to Seattle last night and caught an overnight flight to Anchorage, where they landed just after midnight Alaska time. To kill time during their 12-hour layover, they’re going to rent a car and drive down the Turnagain Arm to Portage. It’s a gorgeous stretch of road along the water.
 
Later today, they’ll catch a flight to King Salmon, a small tundra town which is the jumping-off point for many sport fishing adventures—and the place where the fishermen in our district catch the bush planes that take them to their various fishing camps.  
 
The whole trip will take about 36 hours, at which point Robbi and the kids will land on the beach and be greeted by Robbi’s brother in a pickup truck. They’ll drive to our compound, take the plywood off the windows, head to the spring to get water, hook up the solar panel, and then start setting up our fishing lines.
 
It’s so much work to get started every year, but they’ll be up and running by the time I reach the tundra late next Monday evening. It’s possible I’ll jump off the plane and straight into my waders. Once the fishing starts, it waits for no one.
 
PS - This illustration is from our picture book Sunrise Summer, which tells the story of Alden’s first season as a member of the fishing crew. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into our lives in Alaska.
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The Daily Minute: 6.17.24
In which we tape up the coolers, and Robbi’s hair proves tundra-ready.
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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!