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History, Mission & Values

What started as one family’s dream has grown into one of the most respected names in education around the world and a growing learning community in Downtown Chicago.

A Family’s Vision for the Future of Education

In 1959, KS Varkey and his wife, Mariamma, left India in search of better opportunities for their family. Settling as teachers in Dubai, they quickly discovered the power of education in building intercultural understanding and in creating bright futures for students arriving from all over the world to the burgeoning metropolis. Their local vision soon became a global one: to make a quality education available to everyone. From a school of just three teachers and 27 students emerged GEMS Education, one of the largest education groups in the world, educating over 250,000 students from more than 170 countries across four continents. Under the leadership of Chairman Sunny Varkey, GEMS has become synonymous with forward-thinking and innovative education that prepares today’s students to solve next-generation problems. Nearly 60 years later, the Varkeys’ original, simple vision of reaching as many students as possible, remains. Through the Varkey Foundation, 100 underprivileged students’ lives are impacted for every one student enrolled in a GEMS school via teacher training, advocacy, infrastructure improvements, and more.

GEMS World Academy Chicago welcomed its first cohort of students in 2014, joining a micro network of international schools educating the next generation of change agents who learn locally, but think globally. Our close relationship with campuses in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Singapore offers unmatched opportunities for exchange and collaboration with fellow students on projects to inspire new perspectives, challenge convention, and develop the grit to embrace a future of unknowns.


At GEMS World Academy Chicago, our mission is 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.

Our Values

The values that guide our students are the same that propel each member of our school community. Values at GEMS World Academy are taken seriously; we celebrate and live through them each day.

Being open to learning is the ultimate key to personal and academic growth. We must have the courage to learn to change the way we do and see things, even if it challenges convention or our belief system.

We take time to celebrate our successes and elevate one another, but we never rest on our laurels. By constantly pursuing our academic and personal best, we know we are making the best of our opportunity to be part of the GEMS community.

We are highly focused on leaving the world and society in a better condition than how we found it. We know that being good global citizens starts with being good local citizens; living, learning, and contributing in Chicago is critical to our worldview.

In an ever-changing world, the only way to progress and effect positive change is to innovate on any scale. We are focused not just on finding solutions, but on asking the right questions to begin with.

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