Walter Payton College Prep named Star Innovator 

School is awarded top prize for original math programs


September 22, 2010


Walter Payton College Preparatory High School took home the top award at the Intel Schools of Distinction contest last week in Washington, D.C.


Payton was declared the winner over five other schools from across the nation to earn the Star Innovator Award, which is presented to the school that best exemplifies innovative math and/or science programs.


At Payton — a selective enrollment high school located at 1034 N. Wells St. — math teachers participate in lesson study and are engaged in collaborative processes. All courses include measurement, data analysis and modeling activities using the same digital lab instruments employed in science classes. The school schedule includes block lessons once a week and innovative, co-curricular seminars throughout the semester to engage students in the study of advanced or unusual topics.


“The faculty focuses on collaboration, reflection, reviewing and talk about how students learn,” said Paul Karafiol, the chair of the Payton Math Department.  The department works closely with the Payton Science Department so the skills that students learn in one discipline are applied to the other at the same time.

More than a quarter of Payton students take five or more math courses before graduation, including Advanced Placement statistics and university-level electives. More than 99 percent of Payton students meet or exceed state math standards. Additionally, Payton students have a 98 percent graduation rate and excel in academic competitions.


"The critical knowledge base provided by math and science education is the foundation for innovation," said Shelly Esque, vice president of Intel's Corporate Affairs Group. "These schools imbue a deep passion for math and science in the next generation, a critical requirement for America to remain competitive in the global economy."


Chicago Board of Education Member Dr. Tariq Butt and CPS Chief Administrative Officer Robert Runcie accompanied a delegation from Payton to the nation’s capital for the presentation.


“This national recognition of Payton speaks volumes about the hard work of the school’s administration and staff,” Dr. Butt said. “On behalf of the Board of Education, we are proud of their efforts and offer our congratulations.”


“Being named as winner of this award emphasizes the innovative and creative approach in math instruction that benefits students at Walter Payton College Prep,” Runcie said. “Ultimately, that is what is most important – the value such programs have for students in the classroom.”


In recognition of Payton’s efforts, the school was awarded an estimated $175,000 in a combination of cash grants from the Intel Foundation and an award package including curriculum materials, professional development resources and hardware and software from program sponsors including Blackboard Collaborate, BrainwareSafari, Dell, DyKnow, I-CAN, SAS, Scantron, SMART Technologies and Tabula Digita.


"We are proud that Intel, the technology industry leader, has recognized Payton as the most innovative school in the United States,” said Payton College Prep Principal Ellen Estrada. “It represents the enormous efforts of our teachers, students and community to ensure great learning opportunities in our classrooms. This is an extraordinary award for us."


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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