All year long, we Americans tend to use water mindlessly.
Whether it be taking a shower or leaving the faucet running, our water-wasting habits are ingrained. Unlike many places in the world, we have the privilege of taking 60-minute showers and over-watering our plants.
While we use our limited supply of “infinite” amounts of water, others beyond our borders are suffering from diseases caused by their poor water treatment. In some places, it takes a three-mile journey, sunburned shoulders, and empty plastic gallons for a family to get their daily supply. Our separation in water collection expands beyond miles, literally and metaphorically. While we put on our faucets, others put on their shoes to walk for their water.
As a part of the WE Charity, an international charity and education partner based in Canada, schools all around the world were challenged to raise money to change these conditions. They planned to build wells from all the money collected where communities needed it most. The motive was pure: every $25 raised gave one child clean water for the rest of their lives.
Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, which this year included an Upper School trip to study the ecology and culture of Andros Island in the Bahamas.
When you think of the Bahamas, you usually picture gorgeous beaches, palm trees, tourists, and endless sun. Our Project Week trip to Andros Island was all of that and so much more — except for the tourists!
While the capital of Nassau is known for its populated areas, Andros, the largest of the islands, is acclaimed for its friendly residents and an abundance of nature available for scientific research and exploration.
Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, including a seventh-grade trip to the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas.
Sunday we had our near 13-hour bus ride to Perryville, Arkansas. It was a day consumed by our electronic devices, which will not happen again until Friday. The entire time I was anxious and eager to get to the ranch, which was inevitably in the middle of nowhere. The bus drive was slightly boring, but I got to witness the transition from the city to the rural fields. It was nice to escape my bubble in Chicago, in which everything is busy and chaotic, and transition into the serene, calm, and peaceful environment.
Although the bus ride was tiring, it was nice to be able to to rest up knowing what was in store for us tomorrow. I was very excited to finally be able to somewhat understand the things going on in the world and to be “off the grid” for a few days, while some people need to do it their whole lives.
Lesley Jorge teaches French in Upper School and Middle School, having joined the Morgan Park Academy faculty this fall after 13 years in a similar role at a K-12 school in Evanston.
She holds a B.A. in English and French from Butler University and a Master’s in curriculum and instructional design from Wichita State University.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
For me it’s all about the kids. I feel so lucky to have found a profession where I get to interact in an important and meaningful way with teenagers. I love being around these young ladies and gentlemen. Their passions, perspectives, and voices have so much to offer the world. Plus, they keep me young!
Tara Gorry teaches Spanish in the Upper School and Middle School, having joined Morgan Park Academy this fall from Montrose School, an independent school in suburban Boston.
She holds a B.A. in Spanish and English from Colgate University and an M.A. in Hispanic Studies from Boston College.
Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?
In addition to being an excellent school with strong academics, MPA attracted me with its culture of inclusion, sense of community, and focus on thinking internationally. While it is important to celebrate where we come from and what ties us together, as a language teacher, it is so important to me that a school looks outside of itself to explore other countries, meet other people, and learn to respect different ways of life.
Derek Smith teaches English and Social Studies classes in the Upper School and is our Director of Service Learning. He is teaching American literature and consumer economics this school year, his sixth at Morgan Park Academy.
Mr. Smith holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master’s degree from Framingham State University.
What do you like best about teaching at Morgan Park Academy?
I enjoy how much autonomy and flexibility we are afforded as educators. I’ve created courses from scratch about Middle Eastern literature and about graphic novels, for example, and we’re reintroducing a speech class next spring. The encouragement to create new classes and to make use of our strengths enables and pushes us to continually grow as educators.
I also love our small community and the connection I have with students, including the opportunity to make connections outside of the classroom. As teachers here, we do not lose touch with our students once they graduate and move on to college and adult life.
Our journey into the Amazon rainforest was a long one: two flights, an eight-hour bus ride, and a boat ride before we reached the Minga Lodge on the Upper Napo River in northeast Ecuador. But it was worth every minute.
We were thrilled to represent the MPA faculty and school community on a remarkable service trip this summer, volunteering with fellow teachers from throughout the U.S. and Canada on a life-changing development project through the ME to WE charity program.
To say that we gained a fuller perspective on life and community is an understatement.