About the ecology program
To Whom It May Concern.
We, Javier Obregon and Alicia Mayorca, Waters’s parents and neighbors, write in the highest possible terms to ask to keep Mr. Leki as the head of the ecology program at Waters Elementary with full funding.
The Waters Ecology program as many of you know is one of a kind, as proofs: a Green Ribbon School 2012 and a 2003 Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s Educational Leader Award. All of this was doubtless possible thanks to the vision and hard work of Mr. Leki. Without him, this beloved (and successful) program by many will likely not continue to thrive at the hands of others.
On a personal note, The Ecology program is in fact so special that we found it all the way back to Venezuela when we were researching about good schools for our daughters before making our move. The garden and the ecology program were the biggest and strongest selling points of Waters and the neighborhood in general. It soothed our fears about CPS schools, and it served as a reassurance that if that school had this program, they must be having the right approach on education and shared the core values we are looking for our children.
We have seen firsthand how our daughters and peers have grown, learned and eaten the food from the Water’s garden. We have walked around the neighborhood identifying trees which unfolded so many conversations about habitats and comparisons about trees and animals to other locations we have visited around the world. We have seen (and kept as treasures) the field journals. We have sung Mr. Leki’s songs. Our girls have knowledge of recycling, waste management, and nature conservation. This ecology program, the garden and Mr. Leki planted the conservation seed and awoke so many important realities about climate change, solutions and opportunities of change in our children and we expect to continue that way.
Each of us has volunteered on at least 1 field trip per year for each of our kid’s classrooms, which translates to 4 field trips per school year for this family household. We have seen an learned… and we have the pictures to prove it.
I (Alicia) have also volunteered as a garden waterer for 2 years in the past. I spent many summer nights taking walks among the plants, watering, and letting my kids recharge in the greenest environment available around us. We have made lifetime friends, and have enjoyed many wonderful moments.
We have heard so many times: You’re so lucky to be in the Waters district. We immediately think about Mr. Leki and all the wonderful things he has taught our girls in these past 5 years.
In a nation with issues like gun violence, segregation, entitlement, privilege, and arbitrary decisions, we need a generation with the capacity to empathize and address this challenging reality. Haven’t we learned a thing? Don’t we want to be the generation that will bring a positive change to this society? Many studies point out that students that interact with nature enhance their overall mental and physical health. (We will be happy to share the a reference lists and bibliographies to whoever might need them.)
As parents of 3, We find the garden a peaceful and safe place where our kids have become more aware of how this interconnectedness builds healthy and thriving communities and, in turn, our children become better citizens.
We hope you have the time and capacity to consider what the garden and ecology program means to many of us.
Javier Obregón and Alicia Mayorca
About the ecology program