District 163 Part of South Cook Math Initiative

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 is participating in the South Cook Math Initiative with SCISC-IV (South Cook Intermediate Service Center), Rich High School District 227 and a number of the high school feeder school districts to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in sixth through 12th grades.

Made possible through a grant and partnership between the schools that the Service Center services, University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust, the initiative provides opportunities for District 163 teachers to become stronger math teachers and become well versed in best practices and strategies that they will share with their colleagues in the District, said Maryann Matyasec, District 163’s director of instructional services. A District 163 teacher participated in training this summer and she will be paired with a mentor who will continue to assist her in best practices throughout the school year. The strategies and skills honed by the initial teacher leader will be shared with teachers throughout the District, Mrs. Matyasec said. She noted that this was a multi-year initiative and provides for a portion of a teacher’s tuition to be paid for classes at UIC.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our teachers that will benefit our students and help us to continue to achieve high math scores,” commented Mrs. Matyasec. District 163’s composite score in the math portion of the 2010 ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) was 82.6 percent of the students meeting/exceeding standards.
Dr. Carolyn Stroud, principal of Forest Trail, said, “The math initiative fits well with our focus this year of improving learning for both students and staff. The initiative provides principals with invaluable insight into what the most effective math classroom should look like. We were also given the common core state standards across all grades to share with staff. I am very excited about this initiative.”

Maura Flanagan, a math teacher at Forest Trail, underwent training this summer in the math program. “I think one of the best parts of the training, which included leadership and learning about the math initiative, was working with educators from the different high schools,” said Ms. Flanagan. “We were all on board with the initiative, which stresses group learning and hands on learning. I think we all agree that if we implement this initiative, as taught, we will be doing all of our students a great service. During the training I was very excited to see students working together and helping each other in learning new math concepts. Another great part was that all of these students are taking ownership for their learning.  I am hopeful that we will train other educators in the lower grade levels and share the information and findings from this initiative so that the students will be exposed to this type of learning throughout their education in School District 163 and throughout high school.”

Mrs. Matyasec added that Forest Trail’s seventh and eighth grade math teachers worked closely during the past school year with the high school math teachers to align the middle school’s algebra curriculum with that of the high school. Superintendent Joyce Carmine commended Forest Trail math teachers Sondra Beckwith and Martha Brennan for their work with students. She related that 25 percent of the eighth grade class received high school credit for the algebra class. Dr. Carmine said that Ms. Beckwith and Ms. Brennan did an excellent job of preparing the students for the high school algebra curriculum and for ISAT.