Dedicated Dads: Rob Rowe

Preppy Rob Rowe looks like the Lake Forest dad of four that he is. No surprise, until you find out that this guy in a starched button down is passionate about rock.

Not just listening to tunes, but playing and teaching kids to jam like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden.

“Our music curriculum is radically different from what everybody else does,” Rowe says of School of Rock. No scratchy Suzuki violin tunes here. From day one, kids are rocking out to real music and soon they’re performing with their friends in bands.

For the Rowe family, the shows are a highlight, with 200 people dancing and screaming and everybody having a good time. Rowe’s kids are either on stage or in the audience, as are Rowe and his wife, Suzette. They don’t just own the schools—they’re students and performers.

When asked what he likes most about this family business, Rowe talks about the community that has formed around the schools. He has great stories about how finding a passion, working hard and being accountable to band mates transform kids.

One mom wrote him, “For S., it’s more than the music. It’s about being accepted and challenged. It’s about having a place where he feels safe to take risks and push himself. Thanks for all you do. It was important for me to let you know that your work is making a difference in the life of a kid.”

But for Rowe, it’s not exactly work. “Kids are a lot more fun to hang out with than adults,” he says with a laugh. “And in 20 years, my kids will have seen how we started with an empty building and worked together to build something really great.”

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