Our family is 6 years in at Waters. We love our school. Perfect? No. My children are so happy here. It is a safe, thriving community where my children feel valued and continue to grow and learn. Over the years the administration has encouraged parent evolvement but there have been times when some parents have almost wanted to run the school so this year the parent envolement has been scaled back by the administration. This school is still growing and doing its best to manage the ever changing student and parent environment. This is a CPS school so there are limits to what can/not be done. We are happy and proud the be part of this school.
What I expected: progressive, open administration; transparency and accountability; inspirational teachers; respectful, thoughtful tuition; an involved parent community. My experience: amazing grounds, some fabulous teachers,some great support staff and an invested community. The principal no doubt tries her best to do a difficult job but has had issues with communication. I believe she is working on this and I have started to see some improvement. I think the teachers and admin try hard but have experienced some disrespectful interactions, as have my children. Some concerns in the past regarding bullying were not addressed to our satisfaction. I do not see a lot of transparency or accountability and am sad to see parents being kept out of the classrooms. I am sad that some other reviewers have been so disbelieving, dismissive and disrespectful of those whose experience has been less than 5 star. Waters is a good school. It is not yet a great school. But it could be .
Waters has a unique ecology program. To find out more, turn to YouTube, where you can learn the history of the program. You can also see the program director, Mr. Leki, in action. Use "Pete Leki" as a search term and take a look at the videos created by the Prarie Rivers Network and the American Planning Association. The ecology program and school garden were developed in collaboration with Mr. Leki, Principal Crespo, Waters teachers, Waters staff, Waters students, Waters parents, and community members. Enjoy!
As parent of waters, I agree the school has come a long way as neighborhood school. Based parent involvement and community support, you would expect continued academic growth for our children. The academic performance, test results and student growth rate, should be on an upward trend. Test scores, have plateaued or declined and we rank nationally below the 50th percentile in math and reading across many grade levels. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of many of teachers and staff to our children. It is the administration's and the principal responsibility to develop the staff and implement the appropriate measures to address performance gaps with the staff and curriculum. In addition, it is the LSC's responsibility to hold the administration accountable and ensure the action plan to improve the school's performance is followed through on. I would encourage parents to go on-line and review the CIWP (Continuous Improvement Work Plan). Review the section for the ILT (instructional leadership team), there are no comments or evidence to support the implementation of the plan. Current leadership at Water's should not accept average performance, our children deserve more!
I have two children, one who is now in high school and another still at Waters. I am so thankful for the fact that I live in the neighborhood and my children can attend a school that they have NEVER been made to feel unsafe. The teachers and administration have a zero tolerance policy on any type of bullying and for the more than 11 years that I have been a parent I have never seen an incident of violence or bullying on the playground ,EVER, nor have my children ever come home to tell me about any such incidents . For the most part there seems to be a great deal of respect between the teachers and the students. I also want to share that my son who always struggled in Math has in the past two years gone from a 1 percentile (yes that's right) to a 33rd percentile carrying a high B average this year with NO help from his parents. Mr. Gil , along with my son's other teachers came together and put a plan of action out for him including after school tutoring and before school tutoring . I think Waters School is doing everything right , I am sorry to hear parents who have had negative experiences but that's not the school experience my family has had at all.
As someone who has been involved with this school since before Mrs Crespo (Kipp) was principal, I will tell you how far the school has come. We have had great luck with hard working teachers, and yes the community has embraced this school and made it what it is today. So it's clear there's one parent who had a bad experience, and has chosen to post multiple negative reviews. But if you talk to parents on the playground, the feedback I get is immensely positive. This local school has sent my daughter on to Lane Tech, and given my son a place where he is enthusiastic about school. We're lucky to have this gem as our local school.
This is a wonderful school community in the city. It has dedicated teachers, staff, and families. It offers so much more than the average CPS school due to parents fundraising and the principal being receptive to that involvement and working with parents to make changes everyone sees as important for going forward in education. There are things that could be changed , as with any school, .even the top rated schools will have things not everyone will be happy with. But the bottom line is that Waters fosters children that are well versed, multicultural, respectful of people and their environment, love the arts, excel in their subjects and feel safe and taken care of at the same time. My child went there for six years and had great grades, tested well, made lifelong friends, developed a love of learning , and is doing great at her junior high school because of it. Did I love every teacher? No. Did I love certain homework assignments/projects? No. But welcome to the real world. Will you love every co worker you have, every boss, every job you are assigned, chances are .NO. Waters students have a bright future in my humble opinion.
Our child, now in fourth grade, has been attending Waters since pre-school. Her growth as a person and student has been tremendous. By integrating fine arts, computer science and ecology with the basics, she's been exposed to a well-rounded learning environment. Is the school perfect? No. Can communication between teachers, the administration and parents improve? Sure. I'd venture to say that's true at nearly every school. I've found, however, that Waters' leaders are open to ideas. They are willing to reverse course on concepts that don't seem to be working. Also, the administration seems pretty adept at maneuvering through CPS' byzantine bureaucracy. Prospective families need to understand that Waters has a very active parent community that's helped propel the school forward. But that involvement also seems to have created a feeling among some that the administration should respond to every whim and whisper. At the end of the day though, this is a CPS school and it is bound by rules handed down by the board. To me, the most important thing is this: my child LOVES to learn and that desire has been nurtured at Waters.
Our son has been going to Waters for the past six years and we have been truly happy with what he has learned as a student and as a respectful person of a community. The art program is fantastic and the ecology program is amazing--the pride our son has in learning about his environment, recycling, and nature is truly inspiring. He has had attentive and wonderful teachers and to address some of the below concerns, his grades have always correlated with his test scores. I have always treated the administration and front desk staff with respect and therefore they have treated me with respect back. I give the school 4 stars for two reasons: 1) I am a very hard rater and rarely give anything a 5/5 2) like all CPS schools, there is always room for improvement and I think this school will get there. For all of you who have been unhappy with the school and its administration, I am sorry for your experiences and truly hope you find a school that meets your child's needs better.