Romona Elementary School at 600 Romona Road in Wilmette is a special place for Tracy Kearney of Glenview. Her three children are enrolled there, making Romona a family memory maker. There’s also the school’s courtyard garden with sections representing the seven continents. This garden of hope helps the mom in Kearney feel good knowing her kids are learning where food comes from. Kearney, who is the chairman of the District 39 Educational Foundation, is passionate about volunteerism and the mission of the district. She and her husband Joe have three children. Charlie and Will are twins who are 10. Their younger sibling Joey is 9. All three attend Romona. Kearney is a former trader who worked in Congress for several years. Her husband is a mechanical contractor. While she says her green thumb defers to experts, Kearney loves visiting in the garden. The Japanese section is a special treat to sit and reflect.
Q. How do you describe yourself?
A. I am mother of three children in District 39 … and wife of a fantastic person named Joe Kearney. We moved here in 2002 when we were pregnant and having twins. And we rolled right into Romona and that’s kind of where the story started. Currently, I am the District 39 Educational Foundation chair, been on the foundation for five years. Next year will be my last term. And I have been very involved in the Romona PTA as well. I was the Romona PTA president two years ago. Treasurer last year.
Q. Can you describe the garden that you are standing in?
A. We are standing in the Romona WELL garden which is obviously an outdoor garden that is used as an outdoor classroom. The District 39 Educational Foundation provided seed money for this outdoor classroom as they did all of the elementary schools in the district. And it was taken over then by the Romona PTA and it is entirely volunteer run. It’s really kind of cool with all of the seven different continents. And science is out here. Art is out here. We grow food in the garden. There are tons of events, especially in the spring. Every Friday, we have a garden open house. The children get to come here during their lunch period. Plant some flowers. Pull some weeds. See how tomatoes grow, really engage in the garden and all its benefits. Lots of mulching going on. The whole green thing in a great way. And real hands on. And it’s just the way it is out here. It’s beautiful. Parents take a lot of pride in it as do the teachers. It’s used and it’s thoroughly enjoyed. And it (the garden) has enhanced curriculum.
Q. What is the power of one person?
A. The power of one person I think is as simple as just jumping in. The power of one person, it’s really two-fold. What I’m trying to say is as much as any little thing I can do to support and just really, hand-in-hand partner with the district allows my teachers, allows this district, allows the administrators to focus really more on what they do. What it allows for a person like me, I’ve learned so much and learned to appreciate so much of what goes on every day, things we take for granted. I have to say again and again I’m really thoroughly impressed. I don’t know when I’m done. All I know is I’m very grateful. It’s a way to give back for that gratefulness. ~.
by Karie Angell Luc
from Wilmette Life, a Chicago Sun-Times Publication