7 schools making the grade across Chicagoland

British International School of Chicago

Lincoln Park814 W. Eastman, Chicago

Grades served: PreNursery-Grade 5

South Loop161 W. 9th St., Chicago

Grades served: Ages 3-18

Total enrollment: 1,200

Student to teacher ratio: 10:1

Average class size: 20

College acceptance rate: 100 percent

What makes your school a great choice for families?

We deliver transformative learning experiencing that go beyond traditional education. Our innovative and individualized curriculum prepare our students for the ever-changing world through values based and skills driven instruction. Our school is a diverse community with more than 40 different heritages represented within our school, we embrace and celebrate our global perspectives

Program highlights:

Collaborations with Juilliard, MIT and UNICEF offer our students a one-of-a-kind experience. Specialist lessons in music, dance, language, PE, art, science, library and culinary arts begin as young as age 2 years old.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

Learn to be a leader, critical thinking and problem solver through an international and individualized curriculum. 

Your message to prospective parents:

Come visit our vibrant campuses, which offer a unique set of experiences preparing students for an ever-changing world.

Chicago Waldorf School

Andersonville Campus: 5200 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago

Lincoln Square Campus: 2156 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago

Grades served: PreK-12th Grade

Total enrollment: 360

Student to teacher ratio: Varies between grade levels

Average class size: Varies between grade levels

College acceptance rate: 100 percent

What makes your school a great choice for families?

At the Chicago Waldorf School each student discovers that they are a scientist, writer, mathematician, artist, musician and athlete; empowered to think critically, creatively and collaboratively. Our immersive foreign exchange program, practical internships, year-long research projects and dedication to service-learning prepare our graduates to be global and ethical citizens.

Program highlights:

Foreign Exchange Program (High School), Robotics Club (Middle & High School), Athletics (Middle & High School), Drama Club, Social Justice Club, Student Ambassadors, school-wide service days in local communities, High School Service Learning Trips (two weeks of service projects every spring)

The most powerful takeaway for students:

At CWS students love to learn. Students feel seen and heard by their peers and teachers and, with hands-on experiences, our curriculum is brought to life.

Your message to prospective parents:

Chicago Waldorf High School is redefining rigor. While traditional schools teach to the test, we provide real world experience and, with a 100 percent college acceptance rate, get real world results.

The Gardner School

Locations: Naperville, Chicago-West Loop Campus, Northbrook, Chicago-Bucktown Campus, Oak Brook, Chicago-Lincoln Park, Lincolnshire and Schaumburg

Grades served: Ages 6 weeks to PreK

Total enrollment: Currently enrolling

Student to teacher ratio: Depends on age level

Average class size: Depends on age level

What makes your school a great choice for families?

Our learning atmosphere at The Gardner School includes a blend of traditional and Montessori educational styles, centered around curriculum-based lessons, child-directed activities, and structured play. We provide real-time updates through the parent communications app, a safe and secure environment with two security checkpoints, plus inviting classrooms with highly qualified teachers.

Program highlights:

We offer delicious, healthy meals in the Kids’ Café, on-site supplemental enrichment classes (sports, music, computers, foreign language) in our enrichment studio and computer lab.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

Each child is provided with experiences that enhance creativity and self-esteem, which is essential in the learning, exploring, and growing stages of child development.

Your message to prospective parents:

Our parents love our open-door policy, parent-teacher conferences and receiving updates with photos each day on our communications app.

GEMS World Academy Chicago

Where: 350 E. South Water St., Chicago

Grades served: Preschool-Grade 12 (currently through grade 11)

Total enrollment: 460

Student to teacher ratio: 8:1 (varies by grade)

Average class size: 15-20 (varies by grade)

What makes your school a great choice for families?

We’re the only private International Baccalaureate continuum in Illinois. Our outstanding core faculty all hold graduate degrees, and we’re housed in some of the city’s most cutting-edge facilities. As part of a global network, we offer exchange to inspire new perspectives and develop the resilience to embrace a future of unknowns.

Program highlights:

Features of our program include: Field Studies that treat Chicago as an extension of the classroom, an emphasis on global citizenship and exchange, with daily instruction in French, Mandarin, or Spanish starting in preschool, a robust e-sports program, and more.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

GEMS provides a unique opportunity to shape the culture and traditions of a school. You will have many opportunities to discover and hone passions and a community dedicated to your success.

Your message to prospective parents:

Your child will benefit immensely from the IB and its emphasis on critical thinking and global citizenship, not to mention school class size and unparalleled access to what the city, and world, have to offer.

Guidepost Montessori

Locations: Wicker Park, Magnificent Mile, West Loop and Naperville

Grades served: Infant to 6 years

Total enrollment: Varies by campus

Student to teacher ratio: Infant 3 to 1; Toddler 7 to 1; Preschool and Kindergarten 10 to 1

Average class size: 14

What makes your school a great choice for families?

At Guidepost Montessori, children are nurtured and cherished, given freedom to explore and offered enticing opportunities to learn, grow and experience inspiring challenges. As students pass through each distinct age and stage, our classrooms offer what is needed for each child to reach the next milestone on their unique journey.

Program highlights:

Spanish Immersion programs are available at selected campuses. Each season, we also offer a different extracurricular activity, such as gymnastics, soccer, music or dance.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

Guidepost Montessori is where joyful and meaningful learning takes place.

Your message to prospective parents:

Give us a call to schedule a tour. You’ll be amazed at how happy, independent and capable children in a Montessori classroom can be!

St. Benedict Preparatory School

Where: 3900 N. Leavitt St., Chicago

Grades served: PreK-8th

Total enrollment: 670

Student to teacher ratio: 15:1

Average class size: 20

What makes your school a great choice for families?

As a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School, St. Benedict Prep is devoted to preparing students for learning, achievement and service in the 21st Century global society. Our commitment to inclusive and rigorous challenge creates a dynamic, innovative and active learning experience. Students are inspired to learn fearlessly, lead responsibly and serve joyfully.

Program highlights:

Students consistently exceed national benchmarks on ACT Aspire tests. The Middle School program uniquely prepares students for high school success.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

The 7 C’s Learning Framework allows students to think critically and creatively, learn rigorous content, develop confidence, and become productive collaborators.

Your message to prospective parents:

The best way to experience St. Benedict Preparatory School is to schedule a visit. Call today to schedule a daytime tour.

Sacred Heart Schools

Where: 6250 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago (SK-Grade 8 Campus) and 5649 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago (Preschool Campus)

Grades served: PK-8

Total enrollment: 715

Student to teacher ratio: 9 to 1

Average class size: 18

What makes your school a great choice for families?

Sacred Heart is a Catholic, independent, PK-8 school that warmly welcomes children of all faiths into a joyful community. Founded in 1876, Sacred Heart Schools is Chicago’s oldest independent school and is part of a worldwide network of more than 150 Sacred Heart schools.

Program highlights:

We offer families with children in grades SK-8 convenient morning and afternoon bus service in seven Chicago neighborhoods: Gold Coast, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Old Town, Ravenswood and Roscoe Village.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

A challenging curriculum within a nurturing environment inspires students to achieve their best and be their best selves. Ninety-five percent of our students are accepted at their first-choice high school.

Your message to prospective parents:

Guided by five timeless principles—faith, intellect, service, community and personal growth—our students graduate with confidence, competence, and compassion.

Saint Clement School

Where: 2524 N. Orchard, Chicago

Grades served: Pre-K 3 through 8th

Total enrollment: 450

Student to teacher ratio: 1:12

Average class size: 24

What makes your school a great choice for families?

We recognize that all students learn differently and we strive to meet the academic, physical, social and emotional needs of each child. We place equal value on academic achievement, spiritual growth, and the social responsibility of each of our students. Upon graduating, our students enter high school empowered by their rich experience of faith, service and intellectual discovery.

Program highlights:

Highlights of our curriculum include a faculty member trained in Positive Discipline, a Child First team that supports each child individually, and participation in the University of Notre Dame Trustey STEM Fellows Program. All of our students participate in service activities throughout the year: Service Day, homeless lunches, Thanksgiving baskets and more. Saint Clement provides a high school prep team to assist the middle school students and families with the high school process. Saint Clement students have Spanish starting in Pre-K and in middle school they have Spanish every day.

The most powerful takeaway for students:

Saint Clement School is like a big family! The teachers are smart, they love and care for each student. Students are excited about coming to school each and every day and enjoy getting to know all the students through their reading buddies. Saint Clement School has a playground on the ROOF!

Your message to prospective parents:

Saint Clement School boasts a welcoming, faith-based and loving community while also supporting students’ academic and social-emotional skills.


This article originally published in Chicago Parent’s Making the Grade 2020 print edition. Read the rest of the issue here.

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