Award Year: 2014

Payton College Preparatory High School

1034 N Wells Street
Chicago, IL, 60610-2513

(773) 534-0034

Mr. Timothy Patrick Devine, Principal at time of Nomination

Magnet School

City of Chicago SD 299

School Website


To create curious, compassionate, character-driven, courageous people who become effective innovators.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 17%
  • White: 40%
  • Hispanic: 23%
  • Asian: 11%
  • Two or more races: 5%
  • Economically Disadvantaged: %
Payton students engaged in a science lab.

Payton students engaged in a science lab.

At Payton, the cardinal values "the mission" are the "four C's": Curiosity, Character, Courage, and Compassion. Payton offers curious students 28 different AP courses and honors-level electives that go into upper-level college material, as well as a robust independent study program in which students design their own projects and curriculum. Payton students learn more than you'll find on any test. In biweekly seminars and afternoon enrichments, students and teachers explore ideas and passions from the novels of Cormac McCarthy to the poses of T'ai chi. The school serves local, national, and international communities. Students go on learning trips and exchanges from Beijing to Oaxaca, create and lead service organizations, and share their love of learning by teaching academic enrichment clubs at elementary schools around the city. Payton challenges the status quo, whether in student-run Monday "Soapbox" speeches in front of the entire school, or in political work for local and international causes from Amnesty International to the Dream project, or in devising innovative programs never seen before in urban public schools, or simply by the fact that a school that is majority black and Latino and 35% low-income boasts the highest average ACT scores in the state. And Payton finds strength in its diversity. Staff and students learn to understand and appreciate the differences in their backgrounds and goals to forge a common vision of compassionate leadership, persistence in innovation, and insatiable curiosity.