Inside Higher Ed | Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Welcome to IMSA

Ranked the #1 public high school in Illinois and #2 in the U.S. by, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA) develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12) in its advanced residential academic program. Graduates are leaders in the business, education, scientific, and civic sectors. By design, IMSA is not part of the K-12 educational system. Rather, IMSA is an independent state agency governed by an appointed Board of Trustees. IMSA’s budget is part of the Illinois higher education system. Notable IMSA technology alumni include YouTube Co-Founder Steve Chen, PayPal Co-Creator Yu Pan, Yelp Co-Founder Russell Simmons, SparkNotes and OkCupid Co-Founder Sam Yagan, and Hearsay Social Founder, Clara Shih. IMSA is proud to have been named among the top 40 public and private college preparatory institutions in the world by The Wall Street Journal. IMSA has been profiled by NBC-TV’s Dateline, CNN’s Science and Technology News, USA Today, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

IMSA is both a public residential Academy and a catalyst for the advancement of STEM teaching and learning statewide with responsibility to stimulate further excellence for all Illinois schools in mathematics and science through student its Center for Teaching and Learning. The Center for Teaching and Learning provides educator training and turnkey STEM curricula, student enrichment, including summer camps, and entrepreneurship and makerspace education.

Academy Offers Unmatched Educational Experiences

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) fosters the discoverers. The thinkers. The innovators and experimenters. The problem-solvers of the future who can change the world through their life’s work. IMSA innovates the future of science, technology, engineering and math education. It creates a strong and diverse pipeline of talented students at its residential Academy in Aurora, Illinois for 10th through 12th grade students. IMSA’s mission is to ignite and nurture creative, scientific, ethical minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA’s tuition-free residential educational program enrolls a diverse student body of 650 from all areas of Illinois; admission is highly competitive.

National and International Leadership

IMSA is a recognized leader in mathematics and science education at the national and international levels and serves students, educators and policymakers beyond Illinois:

(1) IMSA founded and helps lead the work of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology which consists of 75+ member institutions, including IMSA and the similar residential programs in 14 other states; (2) IMSA provides extensive professional development in problem-based learning to teachers in the nation and abroad; (3) IMSA staff and students serve on important national panels and task forces and

are invited as presenters at prestigious national and international conferences; and (4) IMSA is a model upon which a number of other schools in the U.S. and abroad are based.

In addition, IMSA hosted the 2018 International Student Science Fair.


To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.


We Believe That…

  • All people have equal intrinsic worth.
  • All people have choices and are responsible for their actions.
  • Belonging to a community requires commitment to the common good.
  • Diverse perspectives enrich understanding and inspire discovery and creativity.
  • Honesty, trust and respect are vital for any relationship to thrive.
  • Learning never ends.
  • Meaning is constructed by the learner.
  • No one’s path in life is predetermined.
  • The ability to discern and create connections is the essence of understanding.
  • We are all stewards of our planet.
  • We can significantly improve life on our planet.

2020 Vision

By 2022, IMSA is a Recognized Global Leader and Catalyst in Equity and Excellence in STEM Teaching and Learning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

This is IMSA’s Impact Goal for the next 5-7 years. What is our strategy for achieving it?

Strong Employee Engagement

IMSA’s Staff and Faculty are committed to teaching and learning at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). They are fully engaged in the activities needed to fulfill our 2022 Impact Goal and Priority Outcomes. To see the latest Employee Engagement Survey results, click here. Past employee engagement survey results can be found here – Fall 2017, Spring 2017 and Fall 2016.

What are IMSA’s Priority Outcomes and How Were They Developed?

IMSA’s priority outcomes were developed with faculty and staff through reflective dialogue on what institutional outcomes IMSA should pursue. Staff was engaged in retreats, community learning days and leadership meetings. IMSA invited external experts to support planning

activities, assisted in prioritizing and refining indicators, and help to set targets for these priority outcomes.

IMSA leadership attended and hosted many learning events and activities with alumni, faculty and staff since this process started in late 2014.

Outside of IMSA, staff participated in several events that informed our goal setting process, such as the Waubonsee Vision 2050 Futures Summit, Developing America’s Next Generation of Innovators for the STEM Education Working Group of the Clinton Global Initiative, the Strategic Planning Meeting of the Illinois Association of Gifted Children held at IMSA and leading a Chicago Public Schools Administrators’ Roundtable discussion on Leading a STEM School, also held at IMSA.

The Priority Outcomes that will help IMSA achieve its broader goal are organized under three Pillars:

Pillar 1: STEM Teaching and Learning

Priority Outcomes:

  • Develop Educator STEM Proficiency
  • Broaden Student STEM Participation and Interest
  • Develop Students’ STEM Thinking
  • Strengthen Identity as a Learning Laboratory – Current Theme: United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals – See student progress here.

Pillar 2: Operational Capacity

Priority Outcomes:

  • Build Fiscal Sustainability
  • Grow Programs

Pillar 3: Stakeholder Engagement

Priority Outcome:

  • Build the IMSA Ecosystem

The IMSA Board of Trustees formally adopted these Priority Outcomes on January 20, 2016. See Impacts & Outcomes for a brief, one-page overview of this operational plan, which supports IMSA’s Mission, “To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.” An Operational Excellence Dashboard was also developed. It includes Indicators for our Priority Outcomes and clearly captures our efforts and results. The Dashboard also serves to define our

measures and align all activities in order to increase coherence between our efforts and targets. IMSA is further defining and establishing targets and measures that complete this Dashboard as we make progress in reviewing and aligning IMSA activities to it.


Diversity Profile: Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy works to have a diverse and inclusive community that promotes equity. Through our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, we work to ensure that those with individual differences (e.g. personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g. race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) are engaged in the service of teaching, learning and advancing the human condition. IMSA takes a proactive and intentional approach in fostering and nurturing a safe, affirming and responsive environment and organizational culture where all feel they have value, the opportunity to contribute their best work and the ability to realize their full potential.

In addition, IMSA recognizes and acknowledges the historical underrepresentation and marginalization of culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse groups, both universally, and particularly, in STEM education and professions. These disparities also exist in the representation of the Academy’s workforce. We are committed to advancing equity in STEM education and representation and creating a diverse, inclusive community of global citizens who can realize their full potential, and execute our mission to advance the human condition. Equity at IMSA is defined as:

Access for Culturally, Linguistically and Economically Diverse and Marginalized students to differentiated academic and social-emotional supports and interventions that create opportunity for them to participate in educational programs and co-curricular activities that are capable of closing the excellence gaps in student experiences, success and retention. Additionally, with respect to the Academy’s workforce, Equity means differentiated strategies and resources to attract, retain and professionally develop Culturally, Linguistically and Economically Diverse and Marginalized applicants and employees.

IMSA has a 20-year history of moving DEI forward. The work has evolved from a focus on multiculturalism, to diversity and inclusion and now it is being approached through a model of Equity and Excellence,

The intentional integration of Cultural Competence, Diversity, Equity, Equity-Minded Frame, Excellence and Inclusion into every facet of the Academy, with the understanding that it is an active and ongoing process involving structures, processes and people and not an isolated initiative.

Through IMSA’s DEI initiatives, we have created opportunities to learn about, celebrate, and address inequities that exist at IMSA and beyond. Professional and student learning has focused on areas of implicit bias, systemic oppression, power and privilege and educational equity. Some of IMSA’s DEI Initiatives include:

IMSA approaches DEI work through an equity-minded frame,

The data-driven outlook and perspectives that call attention to patterns of inequity in access, outcomes and retention as institutional problems, in an effort to develop systemic strategies within the control of the Academy that address these inequities.

Thus, IMSA’s DEI work has been informed by the following data:

IMSA is a leader in educating and developing a diverse STEM pipeline of creative, ethical, and scientific innovators for Illinois and the world. We aspire to become a recognized global leader and catalyst in equity and excellence in STEM teaching and learning, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

- José M. Torres, PhD, President


Jobs at Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

  • Director of Emerging Technologies

  • Aurora, Illinois
  • The Director of Emerging Technologies is responsible for leading IN2 and its staff in providing student programming, as well as programming for sta...

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  • School Counselor

  • Aurora, Illinois
  • The selected candidate will be responsible for counseling students on a drop-in basis, providing outside resources for students and families, asses...

  • View Details

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