Geoffrey Jones, the founding head of school at GEMS World Academy-Chicago, recently announced that he will retire at the end of the current school year. Kim Wargo, a distinguished educator with more than 20 years of experience in education and school leadership, has been appointed to succeed Jones as the new head of school.
In a letter to the school community, Jones said he is proud of what the administrative team and faculty have accomplished at GEMS in just a few short years. Since opening in September 2014, the school has become known for its rigorous international curriculum, robust mobile-learning experiences and innovative use of technology. Next school year, the school will welcome new preschool and eighth-grade sections, along with an expanded world-language program.
Leaving the school community will be bittersweet, Jones said, but he looks forward to spending his retirement with his wife, Carol.
"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," he wrote.
Jones’ career before arriving at GEMS 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.
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.
"I was attracted to GEMS World Academy-Chicago because it offers the opportunity to leverage my deep knowledge of independent school education to build a groundbreaking, global school in the dynamic city of Chicago," Wargo wrote in a letter to parents.
Wargo formally takes over as head of school in July. In the coming months, she will be meeting with families and teachers at the school.