Magnet Theme

Kim Benton 
Magnet Coordinator

Garlough Environmental Magnet School (GEMS) has been a magnet school since 2007, making it School District 197's first magnet. It is now one of four magnet schools in the District. 

Garlough was formed in partnership with Dodge Nature Center, and offers the same comprehensive curriculum as the district’s other elementary schools, but with an environmental, nature-based theme integrated. Garlough has gained numerous state and national recognitions, including being named a National Magnet School of Excellence in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 and a National Magnet School of Distinction in 2016 and 2018.

MISSION: GEMS uses the natural world to enrich learning. 

VISION: GEMS is committed to inspiring learners to 

  • Understand~ academics and nature
  • Connect~ to each other and our space

  • Care~ for our community and the world

As an environmental magnet school, experiential learning is at the core of everything at GEMS. Through learning experiences in and with the natural world, outside in the School Forest, in the school garden or at one of our outdoor learning areas, Garlough teachers and staff support and enhance children's academic, emotional, physical and social development.

At Garlough, students:

  • Participate in scientific observation, data collection and hands-on activities that support reading, math, science and technology skills.

  • Engage with classroom pets such as leopard geckos, bearded dragon, chinchillas, fish, snakes, turtles, land snails, hermit crabs, frogs and more! 

  • Are exposed to healthy lifestyle activities including rollerblading, snowshoeing, biking, skiing, walking and wall climbing.

  • Enjoy a school campus that includes an amphitheater, forested areas, bird feeding stations, gardens, prairies, outdoor learning classrooms, and walking trails.

  • Have access to Dodge Nature Center’s 320 acres of prairies, hardwood forests, lakes, wetlands, miles of hiking trails, plus a working farm, orchard and bee apiary.

  • Learn with a Dodge Naturalist for one hour at least every other week.

  • Are involved with seasonal phenology observation to better understand the natural world. 

  • Walk as a school community most Fridays for dismissal.

  • Explore over 5,000 non fiction books in the school library with a focus on animals, habitats, plants, traditions and our world.

  • And more!