Five staff members at Proviso Math and Science Academy and a PMSA student were recognized for their achievements and work at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education meeting Tuesday night at PMSA.
The Board honored Mr. William Breisch, assistant principal; Mr. John Wardisiani, chair of the mathematics and science department at PMSA; Ms. Patricia Howard, chair of the PMSA social studies department; Mr. Matthew Brown, PMSA performing arts teacher; and Mr. Brandon Gale, security director at PMSA, for their work thus far this year. The Board also honored Khushi Suri, a PMSA junior who recently was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Education Student Advisory Council.
"Each is considered gifted and talented in their own areas," said Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at PMSA. "I commend them for their personal contribution to the success and opening of a new school year with a new principal. Their valuable expertise, their commitment, and their loyalty to the administration and to their school add to the foundation that helps support the success of PMSA."
The Board also learned about the Agile Mind math curriculum that district administrators are exploring to be adopted at Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School for the 2014-15 school year.
Agile Mind is a rigorous, web-based mathematics curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core Standards that uses technology to engage learners in higher order problem-based learning. It is designed to prepare students for high stakes testing such as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment that will be administered beginning next year. Administrators are exploring whether to implement the curriculum next year for Algebra I, geometry, and Algebra II.
Mrs. Kim Echols, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said that a committee of math teachers from across the district recently visited schools in Chicago and Indianapolis where the Agile Mind curriculum had been adopted. Mr. Andre Zabrodsky, chair of the Proviso East math department, said that the curriculum is research based and uses technology such as animated graphing online to teach the math lessons.
"It’s a mindset," Mr. Zabrodsky said. "We’re used to teaching procedures, how to solve ‘x.’ Now we’ll be teaching ‘why.’"
Dr. Karvelas also outlined a school improvement plan to boost overall achievement and raise test scores for PMSA. Under the banner of "Renaissance 2014," Dr. Karvelas said that the school will increase the number of Advanced Placement (AP) classes from three to 15 next year, increase the number of dual enrollment classes, and use technology to improve student achievement. She also said that she and her staff are also researching adding Mandarin and Arabic language classes at PMSA.
PMSA staff members also are studying the possibility of adding an International Baccalaureate program at PMSA. Dr. Karvelas said that the program used at other schools has produced high achievers who have gone on to some of the best colleges and universities around the world, with a diploma earned in the program good for two years of college credit. It would be a magnet program within PMSA, she said.
"It is a very high level curriculum, and it used to be for the elite," she said. "It’s no longer just for the elite."
The idea had support from Board members, with hopes of eventually starting the program at Proviso East and Proviso West as well.
"If you succeed in bringing the International Baccalaureate program to Proviso, that would be great," said Mr. Brian Cross, vice president of the Board.