Meet Julie Gagne from Central Elementary in Ferguson, MO
by Matthew
February 17, 2022

Meet Julie Gagne, a 21-year veteran instructional coach at Central Elementary in Ferguson, MO.

We’ll officially meet her in March of 2023, when the Busload of Books Tour pays a visit to the Central Stars. Julie took a few minutes to tell us about herself, her students, and her school.

WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?
Sharing my passion for literacy!

WHAT IS SOMETHING FUN OR QUIRKY ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL, STUDENTS, ETC?
Our school is the oldest two-room schoolhouse West of the Mississippi. A historic building, first built in 1890!

WHAT ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL MAKES YOU PROUDEST?
The dedicated teachers I work with.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SCHOOL TRADITION?
Our school parade at the end of the school year! We parade around the neighborhood and cars honk and neighbors wave!

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE BETTER UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE CHALLENGES FACING TITLE I SCHOOLS?
That our students do not enter our doors “school ready”. We need wrap around services for students to address all of their needs!

WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL’S GREATEST CHALLENGE?
Poverty, learning loss from the pandemic. We’ve had to deal with virtual teaching, lack of mental health resources, homelessness, food insecurities and not enough staff to teach all the students adequately.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES IF YOUR SCHOOL HAD MORE FUNDING?
Books!!!! Interventionists. High quality materials. Parent outreach!

HOW WILL THE BUSLOAD OF BOOKS TOUR IMPACT YOUR COMMUNITY?
With most of our students learning virtually last year, getting our kids excited about reading and books will bring such a rich experience to their young lives! We especially want our families and students to get excited about reading and understand the importance of becoming powerfully literate members of our community. Our students are the most amazing young people on the planet!

Many thanks to Julie for taking the time to introduce us to her school—and for offering to feed us and let us park the bus in her driveway on the night before we visit Central. It’s just another sign of her incredible commitment to creating opportunities for her students and connecting them with books.

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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:

Almost home.

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Good night from Lake Compounce Campground, where the heat is lifted, the moon is up, and the dogs are wanting for us to come to bed, already.

We had a wonderful day with the students and teachers of Highland Elementary. Usually school visits are single-day affairs, but we get to go back to Highland tomorrow for another day of fun.

Sweet dreams, friends.

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The Daily Minute: 5.22.24
In which we hear a story created by the next generation of authors and illustrators at Highland Elementary.

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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!