Education is the foundation of a prosperous region, and lucky for us, area schools are laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s workforce, today.
5050 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 226-4000, rockford.edu
Rockford University, nestled on 150 park-like acres in the heart of Rockford, marks its 167th year in 2014. It’s the only private liberal arts institution in the Rock River Valley, and the only college in the Rockford area to offer a campus-based accredited MBA degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching.
The philosophy at Rockford University is that a liberal arts education prepares students not only for a solid career but also for a journey of lifelong learning. Its distinctive degrees and programs are grounded in liberal arts learning and complemented by professional and practical experience.
An education from Rockford University involves challenging and interdisciplinary coursework both inside and outside the classroom. Its students develop critical thinking skills, intellectual curiosity and self-guidance, in order to live within and adapt to a changing, global society.
Faculty members, most holding the highest degrees in their disciplines, show a commitment to the individual through their expertise and caring nature. Rockford University offers more than 80 majors, minors and concentrations, and students can pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with various licensure and endorsement tracks through the Master of Arts in Teaching program. Student/faculty research is an important component of the learning environment, and one-on-one learning opportunities abound.
The Princeton Review named Rockford University a “College with a Conscience” in 2005, and for 11 years running, a “Best in the Midwest” college. For five consecutive years, it has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and it is one of just 11 colleges in Illinois – and 283 in the country – with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.
Rockford University offers its students many other opportunities to gain knowledge and experience. As part of NCAA Division III, the Rockford Regents compete in 13 men’s and women’s varsity sports. Many social and academic clubs and organizations are offered, along with intramural sports. Each year, the Forum Series presents a variety of thought-provoking speakers, events and performances.
The Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement provides many service-learning options, and the Alan Hutchcroft Alternative Spring Break allows students and faculty to spend their spring break taking part in Habitat for Humanity projects. All such moments open students’ minds to understanding different and complex perspectives, thus ultimately broadening their horizons.
The learning expectations of students – knowledge for understanding the world, values for envisioning the world, and skills for shaping the world – guide the purpose of Rockford University’s academic programs. Thus, the Rockford University experience leads to a life of active learning, personal development, professional growth and informed citizenship.
Rockford University alumni are exemplary leaders and shapers of their communities. Among its graduates are chiefs of police, captains of industry, champions of justice, Teachers of the Year, doctors who tested the first artificial heart valve in humans, scientists who invented fiber optics and LEDs, the current president of a national television network and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jane Addams.
The legacy of Rockford University can be found in nearly two centuries of graduates and more than 16,000 current alumni, taking lessons learned here out into the world.
Rockford University Statistics
Enrollment: 1,250 (degree and community programs)
Student/Instructor Ratio: 11:1
Degrees: Undergraduate, Graduate, Certification
Strong>On-Campus Housing: Yes
Evening Classes: Yes
Rockford University Areas of Strength
Quality liberal arts curriculum
Four-year degrees and two-year graduate degrees
Connections to Rockford and international communities
Accelerated degree completion program in business
Dedication to service learning and civic engagement
Small class sizes for individual attention
Financial aid awarded to more than 90 percent of students
Rock Valley College
3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford, (815) 921-7821, rockvalleycollege.edu
For more than 45 years, Rock Valley College (RVC) has been the Rockford area’s first choice for high-quality, affordable, fully accredited and transferable education. No matter where students want to go, RVC can help them to get there.
Whether taking credit classes at RVC for transfer to a four-year university or entering a career program designed for immediate entry into the workforce, RVC can help students to achieve their goals. The dedicated faculty members have master’s degrees, doctorates and real-life experience, and the students access that knowledge through hands-on instruction. The average class size is 24 students. That means RVC students learn in an environment that helps them to become more engaged with their classmates and instructors.
The cost of attending RVC is about $91 per credit hour, significantly less than what the cost would be at most private colleges or state universities. There are many financial aid opportunities to help students to pay for college. More than half of all RVC students receive some financial assistance. This year, the RVC Foundation awarded nearly $215,000 in scholarships to RVC students.
RVC is flexible to students’ needs and accommodates their busy schedules, with a variety of daytime, evening and weekend classes, with easy access at three convenient locations. The main campus is 217 wooded acres located on the northeast side of Rockford; the Stenstrom Center for Career Education is located in south Rockford, and RVC’s Learning and Opportunity Center is located in the Supply Core building, 303 N. Main St. in downtown Rockford. RVC’s new Aviation Maintenance facility at Chicago Rockford International Airport will triple its current student capacity when it opens in August 2015. Many classes are also available online.
RVC is there for its students every step of the way. It prepares them for the initial challenges of college, through Educational Planning Sessions and First Year Experience programs. Skilled advisors will work with students to establish educational goals and develop a path for success at RVC. And if they need help with coursework, they can get the free tutoring they need to be a success.
Rock Valley College Statistics
Enrollment: More than 7,500 (2014)
Average Class Size: 24
Student/Instructor Ratio: 21:1
Programs: Over 90 transfer and 30 career
Degrees: Associates in both Arts and Sciences; Program Certificates also available
On-Campus Housing: No
Evening/Weekend/Online Classes: Yes
Rock Valley College Areas of Strength
Associate degree increases lifetime earnings by $400,000
In-demand career paths in Aviation Maintenance, Precision Machining & Healthcare
Broadly transferable credits
60 percent of students receive financial aid
Strong support system
Belvidere School District 100
Administration Bldg: 1201 Fifth Ave., Belvidere, (815) 544-0301, district100.com
The Belvidere School District provides a quality education to more than 8,000 students who reside in Belvidere and parts of Caledonia, Poplar Grove, Garden Prairie, Cherry Valley, Loves Park and Rockford. Its philosophy is that the educational process is a shared responsibility among students, families and community, to be offered in a positive and safe environment that encourages learning and personal development.
Through its elementary, middle and high school facilities, it offers a strong core curriculum across all disciplines, along with a host of athletic teams, extra-curricular programs and special interest groups that help to create a well-rounded, socialized student. To accommodate and challenge all levels and types of learners, Belvidere School District also offers special magnet programs that each focus on a particular subject area or skill.
In the Dual Language program, offered at Lincoln and Seth Whitman elementary schools, students learn a second language, from kindergarten through grade 5. With an even mix of children from both English-and Spanish-speaking homes, daily instruction is given equally in both languages. The goal is to create students who are bilingual and biliterate, with a multicultural awareness.
Washington Academy, with three science labs, one STEM lab, four technology classrooms and two library media centers, focuses on a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, which is integrated into all subjects. STEM students have daily experiences with science, math at least an hour a day, 125 minutes weekly in technology class, and daily project-based learning where they apply engineering skills.
For middle school students, Project Lead the Way offers an activity-, project- and problem-based curriculum. Students get the opportunity to apply classroom concepts in real-world situations, to identify problems and find unique solutions.
Through a partnership between Belvidere School District and Rock Valley College, Belvidere juniors and seniors can get a jump on their college education through Running Start. With this program, qualified students attend classes on the campus of Rock Valley College during their junior and senior years, and receive dual credits that meet the requirements for a high school diploma and an associates degree simultaneously. Students of Running Start don’t pay for tuition at RVC, and can still participate in after-school athletics and extra-curricular activities. Students may take dual-credit courses on-site at both high schools.
To improve workforce readiness skills, the district has worked with local employers to identify skills that are lacking in the workforce, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, and beginning next school year, Belvidere will require all freshmen take a course focusing on soft skills. This course is the beginning of an overall Career Magnet concept under development that includes curriculum for health care and trades-related fields, and possible future coursework in the technology and manufacturing sectors.
The Belvidere School District offers a variety of unique and traditional programs for learners of all ages and abilities. Through partnerships with local organizations and colleges, curriculum is always evolving in order to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful after graduation.
Belvidere School District 100 at a Glance
Dr. Michael Houselog, Superintendent
Grades: PreK through 12
Facilities: Two high schools, two middle schools, five elementary schools, one STEM academy
High School Mascots: Belvidere North Blue Thunder; Belvidere Bucs
High School Athletics: NIC-10 Conference, IHSA
High School Sports (offerings vary by school): Boys & Girls: Basketball, Cross, Country, Golf, Bowling, Swimming, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Volleyball; Boys: Baseball, Football, Wrestling; Girls: Dance, Poms, Softball; Co-ed: Cheerleading (Competitive & Sideline)
Middle School Athletics: IESA
Middle School Sports: Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Football, Poms, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling
Rockford Public Schools
Administration Bldg., 501 Seventh St., Rockford, (815) 966-3000, rps205.com
Rockford Public Schools educate about 28,000 students in 48 facilities. Families may choose one of the following magnet programs, each with a focus on a specific type of teaching and learning:
The Montessori Program serves students PreK through grade 8. In the multi-aged Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own education. Students move freely around the room, selecting materials needed to carry out their individual plans. They work with a trained Montessori teacher, and older students serve as models for younger children. Students remain with the same teacher and classmates for two or three years, allowing the development of a strong sense of community with the classroom. Pre-K through third-grade classrooms are at Maria Montessori School, and fourth through eighth-grade classrooms are at Thurgood Marshall School.
Barbour Language Academy, for grades K-8, is a dual-language immersion school. In kindergarten and first grades, students receive 90 percent of their daily instruction in Spanish, and instructional time in Spanish declines by 10 percent each subsequent grade. By fifth grade, time is evenly balanced between Spanish and English. The academic standards and curriculum align with traditional RPS schools. The program promotes bilingualism, bi-literacy and positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors.
The Renaissance Gifted Academy, for grades 1-12, identifies and nurtures gifted students through specialized curriculum offerings which are modified and adapted to meet students’ unique learning styles, interests, abilities and needs. Students must test into the program, which challenges students to accelerate their skills and infuse creative and analytical thinking into core subject areas. Students in grades 1-5 attend Washington Academy; they continue the program at Thurgood Marshall for grades 6-8, and Auburn High School for grades 9-12.
At Haskell Year-Round Academy, elementary students in PreK through grade 5 receive the same number of instructional days as other RPS 205 schools, but they are spread throughout the calendar year. Students typically attend school for nine weeks and take two weeks off, which helps to avoid the “summer slide” – a loss of academic skills that typically occurs during the normal three-month summer break.
The Creative and Performing Arts program, or CAPA, provides grades 6-12 with a more in-depth arts experience. The program is housed at West Middle School and Auburn High School. After a successful audition, students may take part in dance, instrumental music, theater tech and media arts, vocal music and visual arts.
Partners in Success
Talented staff and community supporters are key to students’ growth and success. Of 2,051 RPS 205 teachers district-wide, more than half hold master’s degrees. This academic success among faculty translates to academic success among RPS students: Those who take at least three advanced placement courses score an average of 27 on their ACT. In addition, more than 120 area businesses provide support that connects students’ classroom work with real-world experience.
RPS 205 has many strong community partnerships. The district thrives because of the support from area organizations, businesses and a battalion of committed volunteers to produce students ready for college and careers.
Rockford Public Schools at a Glance
Ehren Jarrett, Superintendent
Grades: PreK through 12
Facilities: Five high schools, seven middle schools, 32 elementary schools, three early childhood centers
High School Mascots: Auburn Knights; East E-Rabs; Guilford Vikings; Jefferson J-Hawks; Roosevelt Rough Riders
RPS High School Athletics: NIC-10 Conference, IHSA
High School Sports: Baseball, Cheerleading, (Competitive & Sideline), Competitive Dance, Football, Softball, Wrestling; Boys & Girls: Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Swimming, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball
Middle School Athletics: IESA
Middle School Sports: Basketball, Bowling, Cheerleading, Chess, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Scholastic Bowl, Swimming, Volleyball, Wrestling
Elementary School Sports: Basketball, Bowling, Soccer
Rockford’s Private Schools
In their quest to build a bright future for their children, many parents choose private schools. The reasons for attending vary from family to family, but the results are consistent: private school students receive an education that prepares them for success in college and beyond.
What’s the advantage of private education? For one, private schools maintain rigorous curriculum and academic standards in a smaller classroom environment.
Students and their parents are invested in the educational process, thus reinforcing what’s taught in the classroom. The excellent education provided at our private schools is guided by a focus on values, both practical and religious. While many of these schools are endorsed by religious groups, others exist to expand a child’s creative and academic curiosity.
In our region, private schools shine as an example of excellence in education.
Our youngest learners can get their start at schools like Allegro Academy, a nondenominational Christian school and childcare center that supports children PreK through eighth grade. Its philosophy combines Christian principles and fine arts education with a dedication to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.
Some schools, like Alpine Academy of Rockford and Berean Baptist Christian School, weave in the religious messages of their faith with a strong curriculum. They enhance classroom instruction with state-of-the-art technologies, and while Alpine Academy reinforces its values through active adventures, Berean Baptist builds personal responsibility through daily habits.
Classroom technology provides a big advantage to students at Christian Life Schools, which serves youngsters from PreK through high school. At all grade levels, students work with their own Apple iPad; six technology labs further enhance their computer skills. The nondenominational Christian school boasts highly trained teachers, active sports and service organizations and a college prep curriculum that places nearly 90 percent of graduates into higher education.
On Rockford Christian Schools’ elementary and secondary school campuses, students routinely score above grade levels and test well beyond their state and national peers. The high school’s state-of-the-art science and technology center is filled with cutting-edge tools that build critical experience in computers, science and robotics. In addition to daily Bible lessons, students can also experience strong sports programs, three art studios and performing arts venues.
For more than 45 years, Rockford Lutheran Schools have combined Christian teachings and quality education in a rigorous academic environment. The Academy, which serves grades PreK through fifth, is equipped with modern technologies and its curriculum introduces youngsters to foreign languages, art and music (including an orchestra). The junior high and high school set students on a college-prep program that places 97 percent of graduates in post-secondary schools. The sports programs, which enjoyaccess to modern facilities and a total fitness center, have brought home numerous state trophies.
Boylan High School is the area’s only recipient of the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Awards, and its faculty include two golden apple recipients. Sixty-nine percent of faculty members hold a master’s degree or higher, and their experience is well-noted in the school’s 60-acre campus, which includes computer labs, a CAD lab, foods lab, clothing lab and an arts and science complex. A Catholic school, Boylan emphasizes Christian values and theological coursework in addition to rigorous college preparations, community service and a vibrant athletics program.
Excellent education, quality institutions and engaged leadership remain key virtues in the Transform Rockford movement. But to our region’s private schools, those values have always gone hand-in-hand with nurturing the next generation.