The Art of Creating a School. The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy 1979-1986

Judith Mary Coates

Abstract

The art of creating the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, (IMSA) covered in the following pages, occurred over a period of seven years. The events took place between the summer of 1979, and 'move-in' day, September 7, 1986, the day the students arrived on the IMSA campus for the first time.

Located in the Fox River Valley community of Aurora, Illinois, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy has earned international recognition for its unique curriculum and teaching strategies. It has grown into the most renowned three year residential math and science high school in the nation. Each year more than 160 gifted high school students from all over the state of Illinois join its community of close to 800 students. Approximately 99% of its graduates accept invitations to attend institutions of higher education, with an average of 45% of the graduates staying in Illinois.

When it began its "life" in September of 1986, the Academy had "210 gifted high school students, twelve creative faculty members, a list of twenty-one courses, no residence halls, no computers, no library books, limited funding, many unanswered questions and an uncertain future. Students lived in converted classrooms while the first residence balls were being built.