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Education alumnus turns garage into library for kindergarteners

Amy Rowe ’12 offers personal collection of more than 2,000 books to her kindergarten class


In a year that has been difficult for so many, one Simpson College alumnus went out of her way to bring some good into the lives of a group of schoolchildren.

Amy Rowe ’12 spent the first semester of the school year teaching her kindergarten class at Waukee Community School District online. Teaching a group of 27 eager 5- and 6-year olds is a challenge in a normal year. Getting those students to stay engaged in an online format presents additional challenges. They never saw their classroom. They never even had a chance to meet their teacher in person.

That changed last week when Rowe turned her garage into a makeshift library displaying her personal collection of more than 2,000 books.

Amy Rowe's garage

In an effort to keep her students engaged over winter break, Rowe invited them to ‘check out’ books from her own expansive collection. The students arrived in shifts, wore masks and practiced social distancing to ensure safety.

Seeing the students in person was a welcome change-of-pace for Rowe. All previous interactions occurred on a screen.

“I almost didn’t recognize them without their ceiling fans,” Rowe said. 

When the day was over, each student walked away with at least 20 books and a bag of goodies provided by Rowe. The experience was rewarding for both the students and their teacher, whose high-energy, interactive teaching style thrives off personal connections.

“This whole year has been traumatic,” Rowe said. “I thought the world – or at least my kindergarteners – needed something good.”

She needed something good, too. 

In addition to the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rowe has been through a lot in 2020. She lost her husband, Scott, to cancer in June. In November, her mother-in-law suffered a stroke. And her father was recently hospitalized with heart trouble. 

Despite the heartache and loss she endured throughout the year, Rowe wants to recognize the victories. 

“Every single student has learned how to read via this virtual platform – we need to celebrate that!”

About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has 1,268 undergraduate and graduate students. Simpson offers 74 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.
Contact Information
Cathy Cole, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communication
Direct: 515-961-1595
Email: cathy.cole@simpson.edu