December 15, 2021 333 PM
FORT DAVIS — Dirks-Anderson Elementary is on the map! The Fort Davis school has been chosen as a stop on the Busload of Books Tour. Supported entirely by private donors, illustrator/author married couple Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson (and their four kids) will spend one year visiting Title I schools in every state.
This free enrichment opportunity was highly competitive. Out of over 300 applications, only 52 were selected: one school per state, plus Washington D.C., and with two schools selected in Texas due to its size.
During their visit to Dirks-Anderson, Behr and Swanson will give one free brand-new book to each elementary school student, teacher/support staff and administrator. They will also provide two interactive presentations about creativity, writing and art: one for pre-K through first grades, and one for second through fifth grades. Additionally, a select group of upper-elementary students will eat lunch with Behr and Swanson, during which time they can discuss careers in writing, art/media, publishing and more. The visit is scheduled for the last week of school in December 2022. To see more about their plans, go to https://robbiandmatthew.com/busload-of-books/
A generous grant from the Higher Education Foundation led Dirks-Anderson teacher Amanda Fisher to this competition. With her recently-awarded grant money, Fisher updated her fourth-grade classroom library primarily from First Book Marketplace, a nonprofit that sells heavily discounted books exclusively to Title I teachers and staff. It was First Book Marketplace, which is partnering with Behr and Swanson, that invited Fisher to apply.
Fisher, who received her doctorate in Slavic languages and literature from Indiana University in 2019, hopes this visit will electrify all students, especially those who lean in the creative direction. One of the most exciting parts about teaching fourth grade, Fisher claims, is when students find and develop their own sense of literary creativity. “I’ve had students who have reading disabilities yet demonstrate amazing writing skills and knowledge of text/illustration interactions,” she says. “It’s an honor to get to encourage that creative energy.”
So too, Fisher notes, is aiding young readers in developing individual literary taste. She regularly spends some of her free time researching which books would appeal to which students. While she enjoys finding books that grow her seasoned readers, nothing is quite as thrilling as hearing a reluctant reader say, “I love this book!” Perhaps after the Busload of Books Tour, a few more Dirks-Anderson students will be exclaiming that very same thing.