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KCPS eNews


October 21, 2021


How a Hale Cook Family's Little Free Library of an Iconic KC Building Became a School Project





David and Sarah Darmitzel and sons Otto, Louis and Jude have a tremendous love for their community and neighborhood school, Hale Cook Elementary. When they saw an opportunity to bring community and school together this summer, a unique project was born. 


While visiting his local convenience store, Mr. Darmitzel noticed they were remodeling the interior and had a pile of marble, wood and other materials ready to be thrown away. Instead of contributing to the landfill, the family embraced the principal of reducing waste while reusing and recycling resources. 


“We wanted to give the materials new life, especially the marble material, as a little free library in front of our house,” Mr. Darmitzel said. 


With the marble in mind, 10-year-old Otto had the idea of using the marble to create an engaging, fun replica of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Using recycled materials, the Darmitzels set out to build the “Little Nelson Atkins Library” at home.  


While this started as a family endeavor, it quickly became a school project. Hale Cook Librarian Jennifer Larson had the idea to create genre sections for easy readers, picture books, kid non-fiction, chapter books as well as an area for art supplies. Another Hale Cook parent, Phil Martin, helped paint the library and add final touches. As the library was ready for installation, they decided the special little library would be better used at their neighborhood school. 


“This is a valuable addition to our school and the community,” said Hale Cook Principal Julie Lynch. “This is a beneficial resource for the community to share with one another.”  



Hale Cook family Kevin Ball and son Dylan worked with the Darmitzels to set the posts and then several neighbors helped install the library. Once finished, neighbors and school families enjoyed hot dogs and brats, stocked the library and picked new books. 


“This library was similar to our experience with Hale Cook and KCPS,” Mr. Darmitzel said. “It was an opportunity to bring people together, promote learning and have so much fun in the process!” 



Tell KCPS: Where Should Our District Be In 2030?






What matters to your family educationally? What opportunities should every Kansas City Public Schools student have? We want to thank everyone who's already joined us for a community conversation about Blueprint 2030, our strategic planning process. You can still join us tonight or Friday, and we'll announce more opportunities in the coming weeks.


Thursday, Oct. 21

5:30-6:30 p.m. English language virtual meeting via Zoom


Friday, Oct. 22

9-10:30 a.m. Blueprint 2030 open house at Hale Cook Elementary


These online and in-person open houses are open to all KCPS families and anyone interested in public education in Kansas City. Light refreshments will be served, and students and siblings are welcome!


For more information about Blueprint 2030, visit our website. With your help, we’ll decide how to get from where we are to where we want to be. We have bold decisions to make together! Join us!




Save the Date: District Advisory Council is Nov. 10


KCPS is gearing up for the next DAC meeting of the year from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, and everyone is invited to attend. The DAC addresses school issues and concerns, allows you to share ideas and solve problems cooperatively and helps advise the district’s Board of Directors. Our schools can’t do it alone; we need the involvement and support of parents and guardians to succeed. We'll be sharing more meeting information soon. We hope to see you there!