by Terry Rogers
Alyssa Mills Rowe, who currently teaches Kindergarten in the Chesterfield County Public School District in Virginia, always looked forward to the events her school used to provide children information about various careers. Last year, they converted her room into a hospital to teach about various healthcare careers. When it came time for the curriculum again this year, however, Rowe was teaching her children virtually.
“I really wanted to come up with a fun way to show them what was always a fun way for them to learn in the classroom,” Rowe said. “I was sitting at home one day and realized I had a bunch of cardboard boxes around the house. I figured “why not create the same thing at home, video it and share it with my kids.” One day, I dressed all in red and made a big fire truck out of a box.”
At first, Rowe only posted the videos to the parents and children in her Kindergarten class. She received good feedback so she decided to share it on her school Facebook page so everyone could see it. The next thing she knew, her posts were going viral as family, friends, students and parents began to share them with others.
“I just kind of used what I had around the house,” Rowe said. “I used my iPhone to record the videos and then just posted them. It was extremely low-tech. I also teach a special education class with a group of teachers, so I asked if they wanted to create some videos. I figured they would all say no, but they jumped at the chance. We had so much fun and the videos have been very well received.”
Rowe graduated from Milford High School in 2013 after attending Morris, Ross and the Middle School. She met her husband in college and they remained in Richmond as it was halfway between where her husband was raised and her hometown of Milford. She has two siblings in Milford, one in sixth and one in eighth grade.
“I am very appreciative of my time in Milford,” Rowe said. “All of my family is still in Milford. I had so many teachers and coaches who helped me become what I am today. I have been very humbled by the comments on my Facebook page from people I looked up to as role models. The videos have allowed me to connect with them and kind of give back to them what they taught me.”
The biggest challenge for Rowe during the pandemic closure is not being able to see her students in person, especially since they are so young. She explained that it is difficult to teach a Kindergarten student virtually and she must rely on parents to help them.
“I know that a lot of my parents are dealing with working all day, even if it is from home,” Rowe said. “After a long day working, they then have to be their child’s teacher. It is so hard for some of them. I try to tell them that they should not expect their child to do seven or eight hours of school work and that two to three hours a day is enough. I am helping them with things like creating a workable schedule for learning.”
Her district has made no decisions on what will happen at the start of the next school year where she will teach second grade, but Rowe is hoping she will be back in the classroom. If not, she is preparing online curriculum and trying to create ways for students who do not have internet or computer access to continue learning.
“One of the reasons I decided to do these videos was to keep learning fun,” Rowe said. “I hope it has provided some benefit to the parents and the children, giving them an idea of ways they can get their child to learn even when it doesn’t feel like learning.”