Nikki Rowe, left, with Megan Calcara, the former colleague who nominated her for the ARC Paraeducator of the Year Award.

Nikki Rowe, 3rd from left, with other honorees at the Arc of East Central Iowa Awards event Monday.

A Shellsburg Elementary teacher’s associate who works with special needs youngsters in the behavior/focus room has received a special recognition from Arc of East Central Iowa.

Nikki Rowe received the organization’s Paraeducator of the Year Award at a banquet in Cedar Rapids Monday evening.


Megan Calcara, a former teacher at Shellsburg, nominated Rowe for the award.

“Nikki is perhaps the most hard-working, fun and loving person I know,” Calcara wrote in her nomination letter. She is positive about the job and the kids she works with … she has always gone above and beyond is asked of her with the expectation of nothing in return.”

Calcara also told the awards committee about how Rowe has worked with children outside of the classroom and school hours. She has even allowed students to visit the family farm, where they learn to help take care of horses and dogs.

“Nikki treats all of the students as if they were her own children,” Calcara wrote. “At the end of the school year, she sheds tears for each of her students going to Middle School because she cares so deeply for each one of them.”

“Nikki is a quiet leader at Shellsburg,” says Vinton-Shellsburg Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock. “She works to bring out the best in everyone around her – students and adults. We are pleased that others outside our district have recognized her for her talents.”

The Arc of East Central Iowa has been doing the awards for 61 years now, says Lexi Coberly, outreach coordinator.

“There are approximately 14 different categories of awards. Each winner is nominated by someone who has noticed either the individual or organization going Above and Beyond for those with disabilities. The winners of each award are chosen by a committee who reviews all nominations,” said Coberly. “We serve over 800 consumers and their families of all ages and all disabilities. We are based out of Cedar Rapids but offer services in Benton, Cedar, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Tama and Iowa Counties.”