From: James Kennedy
Date: Thu, Jul 21, 2022 at 9:13 AM
Dear Waters School,
My name is James Kennedy and my children have been going to Waters for ten years now. I’m writing in support of retaining Pete Leki as the head of ecology at Waters. I am very disappointed with the chain of events that seems to be leading to him being squeezed out. The ecology program is the jewel of Waters—there’s nothing like it at any other school in CPS. That’s because Mr. Leki clearly pours his heart and soul into maintaining the garden, fostering a community, and teaching. When established programs like this get farmed out to outside organizations that don’t have institutional memory, to bureaucracies that aren’t invested in it, they tend to wither. The Field Museum doing the Mighty Acorns? Can anyone sincerely believe that a big organization like that, with no history in the community, will do as good a job as Mr. Leki, who has years of experience teaching and stewarding these programs?
Even if you believe the communications sent by Mr. Leki were intemperate in tone (I don’t), that is hardly a good reason to characterize it as “a major barrier to come to an arrangement.” After all the time, heart, and energy Mr. Leki has put into the ecology program, this is a disgraceful way to treat him. It’s okay to have someone with a crusading personality to head up this program. Sometimes it’s the only way to make things happen. When CPS had apparently made a decision to build the new annex on the garden, it was Mr. Leki who successfully roused the parents and the community to protest so that our beloved garden wouldn’t be destroyed. Who else do you think could be such an effective advocate?
The ecology program at Waters is a nationally recognized program because of the inspiring leadership of Mr. Leki. He puts tons of time and love into the garden because he is invested in it, and that inspires others to put their time and love into the garden.
Don’t make this terrible mistake. Reinstate Mr. Leki. If he is forced out, it will leave a terrible taste in the mouth for people in this community, and a lot of goodwill will be squandered. (And for what? What is Waters getting in return that is so important that Mr. Leki has to be kicked out?)