Ms. Deborah McGrath | Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Ms. Deborah McGrath

Ambassador, Awarded in 2016
IMSA Tenure: 1985  2005

Clinical School Counselor

Ms. McGrath’s title upon retirement, after twenty-three years of service to IMSA and its students, was Clinical School Counselor. Ms. McGrath’s work and support of students are immeasurable. In this role, she provided day-to-day supportive counseling, short term therapy and crisis intervention to gifted students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This work included assessing students’ menial health needs and determining appropriate intervention and referrals, in consultation with IMSA Resident Counselors, faculty, staff, and parents.

Ms. McGrath’s contributions to IMSA and her accomplishments are too numerous. Here is just a selected sampling:

  • Developed and coordinated Sophomore Navigation Program a curriculum based orientation program for new students designed to ease their transition from home to residential school.
  • Created and implemented IMSA’s Annual Day of Service for over 300 IMSA students and staff, serving 16 local community organizations.
  • Co led weeklong Habitat for Humanity youth service trips to New Mexico and Florida.
  • Trained Resident Counselors in crisis intervention, assessment, and referrals.
  • Monitored students who were hospitalized for psychiatric treatment and facilitated their successful return to school.
  • Organized programs and conducted support groups for intensive summer “bridge” program for at risk incoming sophomores IMSA’s Excel Program.
  • Mentored students doing Student Inquiry and Research projects.
  • Served as Advisor to Spectrum, an on campus LGBT Alliance.

And if that was not enough, Ms. McGrath was a founding member of the Go Green Committee.

Her wanderlust and passion for sharing her love of nature and adventure with IMSA students led to numerous weeklong educational trips (domestic and international) for IMSA’s Intersession Program. These included backpacking in Arizona wilderness with National Outdoor Leadership School, hiking and camping in Tennessee, snorkeling and ecological touring in Bonaire, exploring Northern Ireland’s culture, hiking Mesa Verde and skiing in Colorado, studying history and environmental education in Taos, New Mexico, and other trips to Michigan, Moscow, Virgin Islands, Minnesota and South Korea.

She wrote and received a grant to plant native plants on the IMSA grounds, creating a rain garden and a butterfly garden. She supervised student volunteers in service learning activities in the planting and maintenance of these gardens. And, Ms. McGrath secured Pizzo and Associates for the creation of a master landscaping plan utilizing native plants for the enhancement of the IMSA campus and restoration of the land to its original pre settlement conditions.