Meet Lisa Marks of Ludlow Elementary in Ludlow, Vermont
by Matthew
March 4, 2022

Meet Lisa Marks.

She’s a fourth grade teacher of 22 years and our host at Ludlow Elementary School in Ludlow, Vermont—one of the first stops on the Busload of Books Tour. Lisa was kind enough to tell us a bit more about herself and the Ludlow community.

WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?
Absolutely the kids! There’s nothing better than watching children be excited to learn. Every single day is different and another chance to have an impact on a child’s life. Kids are sponges when it comes to learning about the world around them.

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE BETTER UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE CHALLENGES FACING TITLE I SCHOOLS?
Budget cuts—along with the fact that students today require a lot more than even 15 years ago. They are growing up with a number of outside pressures that affect their mental wellbeing. Students need more support than ever before.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES IF YOUR SCHOOL HAD MORE FUNDING?
Field trips and guest speakers paid for by the school, updated classroom libraries, trauma training and having tools for students with trauma to use, more counseling available to help students cope with our ever changing world.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL MAKES YOU PROUDEST?
Our kids…the way they respect and care for one another even when they don’t always agree.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL?
We have a community of learners at all levels. It really is a family of almost 100!!!

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TOUR WILL BRING TO LUDLOW?
We have an outdoor forest classroom for grades K-1. Students begin their school lives immersed in it, so the book Everywhere Wonder will be a great point of discussion for them. And having the opportunity to meet an author and illustrator who have had experiences in Alaska and other places, and also have four kids, will give our students the opportunity to realize that authors are people that have families and lives just like all of us.

We can’t wait to meet Lisa and the rest of the Ludlow community. Although our visit is still six months away, they have already shown us such kindness and generosity: Lisa even invited us to park the bus at her house and share a meal with her family the night before we visit!

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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:

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!