GEMS World Academy - Chicago Announces Leadership Transition

Founding Head of School Geoff Jones to Retire; Kim Wargo Named as Successor

Mar 03, 2016, 12:31 ET from GEMS World Academy - Chicago

CHICAGO, March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- GEMS World Academy – Chicago announced today that Kim Wargo, a distinguished educator with more than 20 years of education and leadership experience, will become the new head of school in July 2016. Wargo replaces founding Head of School Geoff Jones, who is retiring at the conclusion of the current academic year.

Denise Gallucci, CEO of GEMS Education – Americas, said Jones was instrumental in building the independent private school, which has become known for its rigorous international curriculum, robust mobile-learning experiences and innovative use of technology. Gallucci said Wargo will build upon Jones' work and lead the school toward new successes in the future.

"It is difficult to say goodbye to Geoff Jones, whose wisdom and spirit helped create a world-class private school in downtown Chicago," Gallucci said. "At the same time, we are excited by the vision and perspective that Kim Wargo will add to our school community. To have two such gifted educators at the helm of our school is truly special."

Wargo joins GEMS after serving in leadership roles at notable independent schools including Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco and Louise S. McGehee School in New Orleans. She served at the latter school in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and she played a vital role in helping students who had been displaced by the storm continue their schooling.

Most recently, Wargo served as the Eugene McDermott Headmistress of The Hockaday School in Dallas. As headmistress, she oversaw the expansion of the campus to include a new transdisciplinary science center and arts center. She also spearheaded the development of a new mission statement and strategic plan for the school's second century.

The Hockaday School's former board chair, Talley Dunn, notes that Wargo is admired throughout the country as an exceptional leader and a visionary thinker in the world of independent schools. "She is intensely passionate about the dynamic nature of education, the excitement of learning, and the potential of every child," Dunn said. "Kim's energy, enthusiasm, wisdom, and compassion as a head of school are ideal at this time in GEMS' history."

Wargo has been a featured panelist at conferences such as the National Association of Independent Schools, Educational Records Bureau and the Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools. She has served on the boards of ERB, The Heads Network, and the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest.

"We conducted a thorough search, evaluating candidates all over the country to identify a person of vision, character, and accomplishment to lead our school forward," Gallucci said. "Kim Wargo surpassed all of our expectations."

Wargo will begin transitioning into her new position this spring, and she will formally succeed Geoff Jones in July. Jones joined GEMS in 2013, before the GEMS World Academy – Chicago building was constructed. Under his leadership, the administrators and faculty created a premier school where students learn in ways that connect them to the vast resources of Chicago and the world through transdisciplinary academic lessons. The school continues to thrive and grow, adding preschool and 8th grade classes for 2016-2017.

Jones' career included leadership roles at The Potomac School in McLean, Va.; Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.; and Oyster River High School in Durham, N.H. Earlier in his career, he served as principal of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Upper School.

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About GEMS World Academy – Chicago: Opened in fall 2014, GEMS World Academy – Chicago is a private preschool to eighth grade school located in Chicago's Lakeshore East neighborhood. With a focus on world studies, STEM, and world languages, the school's mission-driven International Baccalaureate curriculum prepares students to be successful leaders beyond the school years. GEMS World Academy – Chicago is the first North American academy from GEMS Education – a global network of schools serving more than 250,000 students on four continents.

GEMS World Academy – Chicago's mission statement: 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.

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