[Source: Coty Dolores Miranda, AZ Republic] – When Kyrene de la Esperanza fifth-grade teacher Sylvia Rios goes through the elementary school’s 2-year-old Discovery Garden, it’s a walk down memory lane. Lining the meandering pea-gravel path are engraved bricks honoring some of the students she has taught the past 14 years. Her two daughters – Gabriella, who attended Esperanza, and Liliana, a first-grader – share her pride in the garden and the engraved bricks that were first installed last year.
“As a teacher, it’s exciting for me to walk through and see the engraved bricks of former or current Esperanza families and staff members,” she said. “I’ve witnessed students in the garden and the first thing they look at are the bricks.”
In 2006, Esperanza applied to the Arizona Game and Fish Department for a $10,000 Heritage Fund grant, funded by Lottery ticket sales. The school received it in May 2007. The following spring, after construction of three new Esperanza classrooms, the Discovery Garden began taking shape with the help of parents, staff and community volunteers as well as $5,000 in private donations and another $10,000 of in-kind donations for plantings and landscaping.
Though other Ahwatukee elementary schools, such as Kyrene de las Lomas and Kyrene de los Cerritos, also have gardens, Esperanza’s is unusual with its 25-foot pond and pump to recycle water in a free-falling stream over rocks – a feature made possible with the assistance of Paul Holderman, Pond Gnome founder and creator of the Phoenix Zoo koi pond [to read the full article, click here].