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Lower School


Lower School at GEMS

The IB Primary Years Program (PYP) provides a framework for teaching and learning that is student-centered, inquiry-driven, and transdisciplinary, while offering students opportunities to explore topics, ideas, and passions. Students are challenged to think independently and take responsibility for their learning, exploring local and global issues in real-life contexts.

at a glance

Emphasizing Student Impact

Outstanding teachers have built a culture that genuinely deepens student learning while increasing confidence, self-motivation, and the recognition that all students have the potential to make their community and world a better place. We prepare students not only to be successful in the continuation of their studies, but to grow into leaders and changemakers.

A Personalized Approach

A low student-to-teacher ratio and an emphasis on student agency enable every student to be actively engaged and challenged. Through our robust Field Studies program, students authentically apply their learning in a variety of settings.



Field Studies


GEMS World Academy Chicago: Lower School Video

Take a peek into our first - fifth grade classrooms and see our inquiry-based curriculum in action. Our experienced teachers design engaging activities that ignite a child’s sense of wonder and exploration.

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Understanding the Primary Years Program

In this video from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), learn what makes the PYP, a framework for students ages 3-12 a unique opportunity for self-directed learning, development of curiosity, and the fostering of independence.

It’s an honor being a GEMS parent and seeing my son experience the world face-to-face in his education.

Source: GEMS Parent

We put a lot of time and research into finding the best possible school environment for our daughter, and every day confirms that we made the right choice by choosing GEMS World Academy.

Source: GEMS Parent

Faculty Spotlight

Co-Head of School

Cindy Rigling



Cindy Rigling is the Co-Head of School at GEMS World Academy Chicago. Ms. Rigling brings nearly three decades of teaching and leadership experience to the role, including her recent tenure as principal of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school in Connecticut, and she’s a noted expert in the IB curriculum.


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