LEADING GEMS WORLD ACADEMY WAS 'A TREMENDOUS HONOR'
Geoff Jones, the founding head of school at GEMS World Academy-Chicago, reflects on his time at GEMS as he retires from a 45-year career in education.
Three years ago, my wife, Carol, and I chose to forgo retirement to return to our roots in Chicago and join a once-in-a-career opportunity to form a learning community dedicated to a bold and extraordinary mission:
To inspire inquiring, knowledgeable, reflective, and intercultural learners to become morally responsible leaders with the skills and attributes necessary to create a more connected and prosperous world.
It has been a tremendous honor to serve GEMS World Academy-Chicago through these nascent years. We have grown quickly during this time, as must continuously happen in any great and dynamic school, but certain constants – generosity of character and spirit, truly outstanding faculty and staff, deep civic engagement, joyful and talented students, pioneering parent involvement – are the strengths that give us such great promise.
We are immersed everyday in dialogues involving different voices, perspectives and experiences, the systematic exploration of “big ideas,” and the power of interpersonal attunement and collaboration in the pursuit of excellence. The care we show for one another, and the shared passion for our students and their futures, combine to create an ethos that nurtures us all.
The next few years will be vital for our school. While still in a start-up phase, stability and persistence are critical in every aspect, including leadership. In March, Carol and I celebrated our 50th year together. We have worked hard and played well together for all of these years, and the time we have spent together and with our family has always been precious. It seems even more so at this stage of our lives. It is therefore with mixed joy and sadness that we leave GEMS to return to our home and family in the Washington D.C. area.
As we reflect on our time here, Carol and I will treasure most the wonderful people – students, colleagues, families and friends – we have come to know. I am extraordinarily privileged to have partnered with everyone in the GEMS community to achieve the significant milestones we have celebrated. I am honored by the community’s unflagging support throughout my tenure. There are really no words adequate to fully express my appreciation. I am confident that GEMS will continue to reach new heights after we leave. Kim Wargo, our new head of school, will bring strong leadership to our school family. And our wonderful teachers and staff will provide the very best education experience available anywhere.
My best wishes and my thanks,
Mr. Jones' last day as head of school at GEMS was June 30. His successor, Kim Wargo, formally assumed the head of school post on July 1. We will introduce Ms. Wargo here in the weeks to come.