Paul Sally Jr., Director of the SESAME Program
Paul J. Sally, Jr.
1933 - 2013
Founder of SESAME

History of the Program


In 1992, former Professor Paul J. Sally, Jr. of the University of Chicago decided to embark on a project of serious staff development for fifth through eighth grade teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. He created the SESAME (Seminars for Endorsement of Science and Mathematics Educators) Program of mathematics courses which is designed for both beginning and experienced teachers, for generalists as well as specialists. A section was added in 2001 for science. Since then, teachers who have enrolled in SESAME returned to their classrooms with ideas and materials which enhanced the effectiveness of their teaching.

The SESAME Program in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago has offered a full range of courses leading to Illinois State Endorsements for the teaching of mathematics and science in the middle grades. All SESAME courses place a strong importance on content and the conceptual foundations of the subject along with strategies and pedagogical techniques for bringing this content to the classroom. Teachers continually work together in small groups to provide appropriate interaction with their peers. The program emphasizes, to a great extent, inquiry-based learning or the discovery method so that the teachers learn how best to employ this technique in their classrooms.

    Teachers who participate in the SESAME Program:

  1. Increase their capacity to deliver quality mathematics and science instruction to middle school students
  2. Develop a deep understanding of the conceptual foundations of mathematics and science
  3. Develop a sense of the mathematics that evolves from the ideas presented in middle school classrooms
  4. Generate activities that students can us to explore mathematical and scientific ideas
  5. Understand concepts in mathematics and science in a manner that will enable them to deliver any mathematics or science curriculum

To date, approximately 1,200 teachers from more than 150 Chicago Public Schools have enrolled in SESAME courses. A significant number of these teachers have received state endorsement in the teaching of mathematics and science.

The ultimate goal is to have every teacher in the Chicagoland area who teaches mathematics or science in the middle grades to have the appropriate endorsement from the State of Illinois. Perhaps even more important is the goal to ensure that all students have knowledgeable teachers who can deliver middle grade subject matter in a highly effective way.

Please note: The SESAME Program is not a degree-seeking program, and this credit does not count towards a Masters Degree at the University of Chicago.
Seminars for Endorsement of Science and Mathematics Educators
5734 S. University Avenue · Chicago, IL 60637 · Phone: (773) 702-7389 · Fax: (773) 702-9787