Our Head of School, Geoff Jones, reflects on GEMS World Academy-Chicago's first year and what we have to look forward to in the future.


It has been an exciting, productive and rewarding first year here at GEMS World Academy-Chicago. And the future looks just as bright.

When we opened our school last September, the entire faculty and staff believed wholeheartedly in our program – a rigorous international curriculum with a focus on innovation and global citizenship. Seeing our program come to life, though, has been more exciting than we could have imagined.

During the past nine months, our students and faculty have launched the inquiry-based International Baccalaureate program, implemented a strong Singapore Math curriculum, and created robust field studies using the entire city of Chicago as our campus. We are creating a lively intellectual community where probing questions, adventure, and principled discourse evolve as core characteristics of exceptional teaching and deep engagement.

Our fourth-graders recently conducted scientific investigations with the help of Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE), a leading international science organization. The students’ field notes and findings are being shared with schools all over the world, and with scientific institutions like NASA.

Third-grade students studied mathematics, architectural design, and the iconic nature of structures at skyscrapers, bridges, and landmarks throughout the city. Almost all of our students have participated in our trout studies initiated by the first grade. The fingerlings raised from eggs throughout this winter were released into Lake Michigan May 5.

As our academic program took hold, GEMS World Academy-Chicago became an active participant in our neighborhood and our city, establishing partnerships with a number of cultural and educational institutions. We like to believe that GEMS is now part of the fabric of this city.

We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short time, but we won’t rest yet. Earlier this spring, we hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Upper School, the building that will make this a true JK-through-grade-12 learning community. The Upper School will allow us to push our academics and community engagement to new levels.

We continue to build upon our existing programs to ensure that high-level learning continues in the future. For example, we recently opened a Design and Innovation Lab in our school. This space features 3D printers, a laser cutter, electronics equipment, power tools, and a variety of computers and software to serve classes across multiple disciplines and age levels.

We’re very proud of what has taken place at GEMS World Academy during our first year, and we’re enthusiastic for the great learning that lies ahead.

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