Frequently Asked Questions for IMSA students - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Frequently Asked Questions for IMSA students

Frequently Asked Summer Questions (FAQ)

-I'm not sure if I want to be a group leader or a teacher.  What's the difference?

Frequently Asked Summer Questions (FAQ)

-I'm not sure if I want to be a group leader or a teacher.  What's the difference?

Teachers for any of the day programs are responsible for teaching the classes.  I know it sounds self-explanatory, but let me explain more.  When you are teaching you will teach the same class all day long, 4 sections for 1 hour each.  You only need to know your curriculum.  For Science Explorers, Kidsplorations in Technology and Science Explorers Jr. you will have a different topic every day.  For every teacher you need to know the in's and out's of your curriculum.  You do not need to check students in or out.  You may be responsible for activities or students during lunch or free time however.

Group Leaders for Day Programs are responsible for the same group of 9(ish) students all day all week.  Two group leaders will work together as a 'pod' for the week. These participants are yours for the week.  You can't trade them in.  The Group Leader pairings are chosen by Kids Institute Staff, not yourselves.  I can guarantee you that you will not be placed with your best friends.  Pairings are chosen based on experience, ability to work with students, and to compliment each other. Group leaders are responsible for check in and check out and you will be the one that will see the parents every day.  You are responsible for your students during breaks and lunch.  You will assist the teacher and participants in EVERY class.  There is no sitting on the side lines in class for anyone!  You will need to know all of the curriculum, all 20 different hours.  While you don't have to know the curriculum as in detail as the teachers,  you will need to know a lot of it.  You will need to know all of the activities and how they are conducted.  You will also need to know all the background information.  Students are just as likely to ask you questions as they are to ask the teacher.

Group Leaders for Residential Programs are quite different.  The students you are working with are going into 8th, 9th, or 10th grades so they are much closer in age to you.  IMSA Faculty are teaching these programs.  You will act as a Teaching Assistant.  You will help the teachers wherever and whenever with whatever they want.  Also, since the program is Residential, the students don't leave at 3pm like the Day Program.  So, your responsibilities don't end when class ends.  You will work with the students in the Residence Hall as well.  You will be responsible for activities at least 2 evenings of the week.  The RCs are responsible for the other evenings.  There is no down time in the evenings unless the Residential Staff gives you the evening off, which they will give you 1-2 during the week.

-What is the schedule for the week like?

All teachers and group leaders will arrive the Sunday just before the program begins.  Your arrival time will vary and you will receive letters with the exact information before the program begins.  Sunday evening for the Day Programs will meet with a Kids Institute Staff member and you will go over the schedule for the week, the curriculum, activities, etc.  There will also be a quiz to test you on  your knowledge of the curriculum.  You  must review the information ahead of time.  Group Leaders for the Residential Program will assist with participant check-in on Sunday evening as well as with the Parent/Student meeting and evening getting-to-know-you activities.

Monday thru Thursday has the same schedule, class, snack break, class, lunch, free time, class, break, class, candy for questions, go home.

Friday is a bit different for each camp because the participants go home.  You will go over this schedule with a Kids Institute staff member when you arrive for the camp.

In the evenings, Day Program teachers and group leaders will have their evenings free.  The Residential staff will have the ability to take some trips.  However, if there are non-IMSA students working with the camp, then the trips are limited.  Non-IMSA students are not authorized to be transported in an IMSA vehicle.  For Residential programs, all evening activities will be on campus.

-I can't figure out who I am supposed to get a recommendation letter from, help.

If you are interested in teaching a day program, you need a recommendation from a teacher, any teacher.

If you are interested in being a group leader for a day program, you need a recommendation from an RC or HC, any of them, it does not have to be from your wing or even your hall.

If you are interested in working as a group leader for Science@IMSA for boys or girls, you need a recommendation from a science teacher. For Extreme Math and Science, you need one from any math or science teacher at IMSA.  For Energy, you need a recommendation from Mr. Lawrence.  For Math, you need one from a math teacher. 

What if I'm also applying to work EXCEL or SEAMS or a summer internship elsewhere?

Put that in your application.  It's number 4 on the back.

 –Do we stay in the dorms, even for day programs?

Yes!  For all programs at the IMSA location you will be staying in the residence halls.  There will be RCs.  You will have roommates.  This is a requirement, even if you live in the area you must stay on campus for the week.  If you are working a day program at a location besides IMSA and Springfield, you will be responsible for your own transportation to and from the location each day.

-I have a younger sibling coming to camp, can I be their group leader?

No.  There is a conflict of interest there.  You can see your sibling at snack break, lunch, and free time.  We don't allow siblings or friends to be in the same groups as participants because it can detract from the experience.

-What do we wear?

The Kids Institute will provide you with camp t-shirts for the week.  You will be given 2 shirts for the summer.  Even if you work 3 camps, you will only be given 2 t-shirts that will need to last you all summer.  You will need to bring a laundry card.  I highly recommend working with the other IMSA students in getting everyone's shirts washed.  We don't want any smelly kids!  You will be required to wear long pants or long shorts (to the bottom tips of your fingers).  Remember, no crack front or back!  You will also need to wear closed toed shoes all week.  You are only required to wear this 'uniform' during the day when participants are present.  After you are released from KI you can wear whatever you want, as long as its appropriate (no crack front or back!).  If you are dressed inappropriately, we will send you back to the Residence hall to change or we will find something ridiculously ugly, yet appropriate, for you to wear for the day.

-Can I bring a car to campus?

Yes.  However, you will turn in  your keys when you arrive on Sunday and you will not get them back until you are departing on Friday.  The procedure is the same as during the school year.  Special permission would need to be given by parents for you to take another IMSA student with you.  You cannot use your vehicle during the week.

-What are the rules in the summer?

Rules in the summer are identical to rules during the academic year.  However, intervisitation is up to the discretion of the Residential Staff.  There will be no intervizes during Residential camps.  Also, there is no second chance.  If you break a rule of any sort,  you will be sent home.  Any level 2 or 3 violations will still be referred to Mr. McIntosh and addressed by him.  Camps are a lot of fun!  We want you to have fun!  But, there is no tolerance for misbehavior.  Camp is too short.

-What if I want to work one of the off-campus camps?

If you are interested in working the camps in Carbondale, Belleville, Chicago, Lake County, Rockford, or Lisle you must live near those locations.  You are responsible for your own transportation to and from camp every day.  If you are interested in working the Springfield camp, we stay in a hotel for the week and the Kids Institute pays for your hotel, breakfast, and lunch- you are responsible for money for dinner each day and any other activities that we do.

-I lost my application and/or teacher recommendation form!  Help!

Email Julie Dowling,, and she can email one to you.  You must have attended one of the informational meetings though!

-I have a question that isn't listed here, who do I contact?

Email Julie Dowling at and she will get back to you within 48 hours.