NEAR WEST SIDE — By next spring, John M. Smyth Elementary will have a new outlook on math and science, thanks to a high school that excels at both.
After receiving $400,000 in state funding earlier this month, plans to implement the Illinois Math and Science Academy “Fusion” program at Smyth can finally move ahead, IMSA President Glenn “Max” McGee said.
The Fusion program aims to increase 4th through 8th grade students’ interests in math and science and specifically targets schools that are under-resourced in those areas. In addition, curriculum, lab kits and teacher training are provided to the grade school, as well as field trips and guest speakers for students.
This year, almost 94 percent of students were low income at Smyth, a Level 3 Chicago public school located at 1059 W. 13th St.
The Fusion program has existed at the Aurora-based Math and Science Academy since 2000, but McGee said he’s made expanding the program a priority since becoming president six years ago.
“We’ve long been trying to have more of a presence in Chicago public schools,” he said.
For several months, McGee had been in conversation with Smyth Principal Dr. Ronald Whitmore about the program’s potential for Smyth students.
But it was only after a $400,000 appropriation secured by State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt Watkins (D-5th) and State House Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-5th) last month that plans for the program were able to move forward.
And after visiting and speaking with students and faculty at Smyth, McGee said he’s confident the program will be a good fit for the grade school.
“Absolutely it’s a big deal and we’re excited about it,” said Whitmore. “Any time you have a partnership with organizations that are recognized…those kind of recognitions are really the sweet spot of what we’re trying to do.”