Annual Guide to Schools – 2015 Edition

The Rockford area boasts several high-quality private schools that successfully combine college-preparatory academics and the liberal arts, with a focus on individual abilities and strengths, and commitment to development of the whole person. To help with your decisions, we’ve found a few of the best.


Rockford Christian Schools

Elementary Campus: 220 Hemlock Lane; Jr/Sr High: 1401 Bell School Road, Rockford, (815) 399-3465,
Rockford Christian Schools provide a Christ-centered, college-preparatory education for students prekindergarten (age 3) through grade 12. As the region’s largest independent, nondenominational Christian school, its student body represents nearly 130 area churches and 23 denominations.
It is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International, AdvancED, and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation, and is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. State-certified faculty members have an average of 15 years of classroom experience, and 37 percent hold advanced degrees. “Rockford Christian has a committed and caring group of teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of their students,” says Randy Taylor, superintendent. “Each one seeks to educate in body, soul, mind and spirit.”
Rockford Christian students routinely score well above grade level: elementary students, two to three levels above; middle schoolers, three to five above; and high schoolers test at post-high school levels in most learning disciplines. The average Rockford Christian Honors ACT score is 28.3 – well above both state and national averages. Of its graduates, 99 percent attend college.
Rockford Christian curriculum includes a college preparatory program, gifted enrichment and honors programs, 17 Advanced Placement courses, and many academic and extra-curricular clubs and organizations.
Rockford Christian places a major emphasis on its college counseling program. “Beginning in middle school, we track our students’ academic progress, extra-curricular activities, community service and personality profile as part of a comprehensive college counseling program that will end in acceptance at the college or university of the student’s choice, as well as maximum scholarship offers,” says Taylor. “As a result of this focus on college preparedness, the 106 members of the class of 2014 received more than $7.5 million in scholarship offers.”
Students have access to cutting-edge tools, with a state-of-the-art Science and Technology Center; a distance learning auditorium; five computer labs and five science labs, including a special “dirty” lab for large-project construction and robotics; and integrated technology and SMART Boards in all classrooms.
The school also boasts two libraries, three art studios, a performance stage, three gymnasiums, a lighted football stadium and soccer field, an eight-lane all-weather track, a full-service weight training facility, and baseball and softball fields. Rockford Christian faculty and staff partner with students and their families in the educational process. “Parents make a huge impact on our team-oriented environment,” says Taylor. “From the classroom to the playground, parents are on the scene.” Rockford Christian teaches that biblical truths guide behavior and decision-making.
Students take part in daily Bible classes and prayer time, they attend weekly chapel, and they practice real-world applications of their spiritual lessons through community service projects, yearly mission trips and other service programs. Through Biblical integration in its Christ-centered academics and activities, Rockford Christian prepares students for responsibility to themselves, others and their community.
Rockford Christian At a Glance
Randy K. Taylor, Superintendent
Established: 1961
Grades: PreK through 12
Enrollment: 1,200
Student/Teacher Ratio: 10:1
Church Affiliation: Nondenominational
Tuition: From $1,390 (two-day PreK) to $7,200 (High School)
Tuition Assistance: Program Available
Dress Code: Uniforms
School Mascot: Royal Lions
Athletics: Big Northern Conference
Sports: Boys & Girls: Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Swimming, Track; Boys: Baseball, Bass Fishing, Football, Tennis; Girls: Cheerleading, Dance, Softball, Volleyball


Christian Life Schools

5950 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 877-2600,
At Christian Life Schools, faculty, staff and parents are committed to providing a quality education while cultivating an atmosphere where Christian principles are taught, modeled and encouraged. It is an environment that provides a sense of security, constancy and spiritual relevance.
The school is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International and the North Central Association, and is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. The Christian Life Schools campus houses PreK3 through 12th grade all under one roof.
Christian Life has a strong history of excellent curriculum, caring faculty, competitive sports, exceptional learning environments, Christ-centered faith and students who continually test well beyond their grade levels. Of the faculty, 20 percent have master’s degrees and an average of 14 years experience. At Christian Life Schools, 90 percent of the graduates attend college, while the remaining 10 percent either enter the military, vocational training or the workforce.
Technology-integrated education programs featuring Apple iPads are offered at all grade levels, with 1:1 ratio at the middle school and 9th grade. Thousands of square feet of academic space encompass six technology labs, iPads in each classroom and an Apple Computer Graphic Arts lab. There are two gymnasiums, a weight room, and labs for life science, physics, chemistry and language.
Academic offerings include AP, Honors classes and dual-credit college courses. Along with athletics, students can participate in Student Government, National Honor Society, Key Club, International Club and Writer’s Club and perform in concert band, jazz band, choir and Limited Edition select choir. The middle and high schools each put on a spring musical, and elementary students in kindergarten through 5th present grade-level musicals in the fall or spring.
Trips abroad, community outreach programs and fall retreats are offered in both middle school and high school. All students attend powerful weekly chapel services, and during Spiritual Emphasis Week, they hear motivational speakers offering relevant Biblical lessons.
The Christian Life philosophy is that education must be a cooperative effort between schools and parents, so that learning can take place outside as well as inside the classroom. The rigorous college-preparatory academics are complemented with strong spiritual training and promotion of a positive self-image. All subjects are taught to prepare students to grow into responsible adult citizens of the world and God’s kingdom.
Christian Life At a Glance
Larry Goodrich, Middle/High School Principal
Carrie Smith, Elementary School Principal
Established: 1973
Grades: PreK through 12
Enrollment: 618
Student/Teacher Ratio: 20:1
Church Affiliation: Rockford First
Tuition: Elementary School: $5,750; Middle School: $6,200; High School: $6,520
Tuition Assistance: Program Available
Dress Code: Coordinated Attire
School Mascot: Eagles
Athletics: Northeastern Athletic Conference
Sports: Co-ed: Bass Fishing; Boys & Girls: Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Track; Boys: Baseball, Football; Girls: Cheerleading, Softball, Volleyball


Rockford Public Schools

Administration Bldg., 501 Seventh St., Rockford, (815) 966-3000,
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
Enrollment: 27,860
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


Allegro Academy

6413 Forest Hills Road, Rockford, (815) 877-1489,
Allegro Academy is a non-denominational Christian school and childcare center providing educational service to the Rockford area for more than 30 years. It is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education for PreK through 8th grade. While many schools focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Allegro Academy students’ education is enriched with STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Allegro offers a unique combination of progressive and advanced academics and fine arts. Programs include visual arts, music, accelerated/gifted programs, athletics, after-school programs, clubs and extracurricular activities. Facilities include a science lab, gymnasium, dance studio and music room.
“What sets us apart is the way we’ve integrated fine arts instruction for all students,” says JeanMarie McCormack, principal. “Movement and music, art and Bible curriculum is taught throughout the week, starting in preschool. We offer a classical education that is committed to teaching fine arts and facilitating academic mastery.”
“We tailor the educational experience to the child, to accommodate individual learning styles,” McCormack adds. “We are passionate about children progressing according to their abilities and not merely age. Each child is assessed and allowed to run on his or her strengths in language arts and mathematics.”
The Allegro philosophy holds that each child is a unique creation of God, blessed with a special set of talents and gifts, who deserves to approach life with a sense of self-worth, respect for others, and a sense of his or her own personal relationship with God. “Students are given multiple opportunities to explore all of their God-given talents,” says McCormack.
A Christian perspective is part of the academic program, including daily prayer, Friday chapel and Bible curriculum taught four days a week. “We help parents to give their children a safe, enticing learning environment where their children develop to their personal level of academic, moral and artistic excellence,” says McCormack.
By setting high expectations and allowing students to progress at their own pace, Allegro creates young scholars who are excited about learning. “Our students often progress faster,” says McCormack. “Our kindergarten reads at a second-grade level. In fact, more than half of our students test two grade levels ahead of their age group.”
Allegro’s hands-on learning experiences include high-tech, from computer-integrated classrooms to SMART boards. “We’re small, which allows us to be versatile and stay on top of current trends and technology,” says McCormack. “Students utilize iPads and laptops to enhance the educational experience.
Also on-site is the Allegro Learning Center, a DCFS-licensed day care facility for children ages six weeks to five years. It includes six classrooms and three fenced play areas.
Allegro Academy At a Glance
JeanMarie McCormack, Principal
Kristen Truitt, Director of Learning Center
Cora Richter, Director of Admissions
Established: 1978
Grades: PreK through 8
Enrollment: More than 100
Student/Teacher Ratio: 14:1
Church Affiliation: Nondenominational
Tuition: $4,995
Tuition Assistance: Available
Dress Code: Uniforms
School Mascot: The AllStars


Belvidere School District 100

Administration Bldg: 1201 Fifth Ave., Belvidere(815) 544-0301,
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
Enrollment: 8,062
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 Lutheran Schools

3411 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, (815) 877-9551,
Rockford Lutheran Schools have been providing quality education in a Christ-centered environment for more than 45 years. Whether at the Academy for grades PreK through fifth, or at the Jr./Sr. High for grades six through 12, students of all backgrounds are challenged both academically and spiritually and encouraged to perform to their potential.
Rockford Lutheran is a member of the National Lutheran School Accreditation, accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges and certified by the State of Illinois. Instructors have an average of 15 years’ classroom experience, and nearly 25 percent hold advanced degrees.
The Academy has a complete computer lab with networked system, advanced rooms with SMART Boards and Elmo systems, a gymnasium and a library. It offers programs in foreign language, art and music, including orchestra. All Academy staff is certified in Gifted Training. In Summer 2012, Academy building renovations included the addition of a media center, as well as all-new flooring, fresh paint and electrical updates.
Rockford Lutheran Junior/Senior High School has three computer labs, more than 30 networked classrooms with complete video presentation and/or interactive whiteboard capabilities, three gymnasiums, extensive science labs, lighted athletic fields and a total fitness facility, as well as a large music room and complete art studio.
Academic programs at Rockford Lutheran provide strong collegiate preparation, offering Advanced Placement testing as well as college credit courses on campus; 97 percent of graduates go on to post-secondary institutions. In 2014, Rockford Lutheran graduates averaged well above both state and national averages on their ACTs, and 20 were named Illinois State Scholars.
Clubs and organizations such as Arts Club, Model UN, Eco Club and Student Council provide opportunities for students to grow and develop in areas outside of the classroom. Drama, art, band and choir, three annual theater productions and numerous art and music competitions balance an extensive athletic program that boasts more 2014 IHSA trophies than any other stateline-area school. Affiliations with Kiwanis provide service activities at all grade levels, supplementing an extensive Christian Service program.
While Rockford Lutheran is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, fully half of its student body comes from other faiths. Faculty and staff are deliberate in creating an environment where all students are able to excel academically, athletically, artistically and spiritually.
With challenging college preparatory academics, strong arts programs and varied athletic and extracurricular activities, Rockford Lutheran Schools prepare students to become the leaders of tomorrow, in a nurturing and inspiring Christian environment.
Rockford Lutheran At a Glance
Don Kortze, Academic Dean
Michael Rottmann, Academy Principal
Don E. Gillingham, Executive Director
Established: 1964
Grades: PreK through 12
Enrollment: 860
Student/Teacher Ratio: 19:1
Church Affiliation: Lutheran (open to all faiths)
Tuition: From $2,020 (PreK) to $6,725 (High School)
Tuition Assistance: Program Available
Dress Code: Uniforms
School Mascot: Crusaders
Sr. High School Athletics: Big Northern Conference
Sports: Co-ed: Bass Fishing, Spirit Squad; Boys & Girls: Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Volleyball; Boys: Baseball, Football, Wrestling; Girls: Powder Puff, Softball


Alpine Academy of Rockford

5001 Forest View Ave., Rockford(815) 227-8894,
Tucked into a quiet neighborhood, Alpine Academy provides a quality education in a nurturing, family-focused Christian school. Its mission is to enrich and deepen students’ faith and allow them to grow spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically.
Alpine Academy is accredited through North Central Lutheran and registered with the Illinois State Board of Education. Its strong core curriculum in reading, mathematics, science, language arts, social studies and religion provides students with a solid academic foundation. Classrooms have SMART boards and computers, and small class size ensures individual instruction. Students receive Spanish lessons from preschool through sixth grade, learn to play an instrument beginning in third grade, receive art instruction and may participate in performance and theater arts.
Alpine Academy has a fenced athletic area with a baseball field and soccer field, and a protected and enclosed play area with slides, monkey bars, tricycles and climbing areas for all grades. Students compete interscholastically in a variety of sports and scholastic events. Upper classes participate in cross-country skiing, canoeing on Pierce Lake, and activities at Camp Timberlee. Each class takes part in community service projects, and the Academy is active in many charitable programs and organizations.
At Alpine Academy, educators and parents work as a family to promote each student’s self-esteem, academic skills and Christian knowledge and values, to create children who are enriched spiritually and academically, who have a dedication to lifelong learning and are well prepared for their journey toward a successful adulthood.
Alpine Academy of Rockford At a Glance
Robert McVinnie, Principal • Dan Wynard, Alpine Lutheran Church Pastor • Matt Hier, Alpine Academy Board President
Established: 1997 (Luther Academy of Alpine); 2007 as Alpine Academy of Rockford
Grades: PreK through 6
Enrollment: 90
Student/Teacher Ratio: 9:1
Church Affiliation: Alpine Lutheran Church (open to all faiths)
Tuition: Averages $5,500 per year
Tuition Assistance: Scholarships Available
Dress Code: Khakis; red, white or blue tops
School Mascot: Purple Thunder
Athletics: Rock Valley Lutheran Conference
Sports: Basketball, Volleyball, Cheerleading, Dance Team, Soccer


Berean Baptist Christian School

5626 Safford Road, Rockford(815) 962-4841,
Berean Baptist Christian School (BBCS) was founded in 1977 by Dr. Melvin Swanson, then-senior pastor of the Berean Baptist Church. BBCS strives to develop the maximum potential in each student, both spiritually and academically, according to individual strengths.
BBCS is a member of the Illinois Association of Christian Schools and the American Association of Christian Schools. Across grade levels, the core academic curriculum is enhanced by chapel/Bible study, music/fine arts, foreign language, art, physical education, learning centers, creative play, library and computers. In middle school, students learn to be responsible for their time, work and belongings, and move to an hourly change of location, subject and teacher, to prepare them for high school. Each student is required to carry a minimum core class schedule of English, literature, history, math, science, physical education and Bible. Students participate in choir and have the opportunity to be in band and compete in interscholastic athletics.
In high school, Berean’s core curriculum provides students with a solid educational foundation. In addition, students have access to a computer lab for classes and completion of homework assignments. The Berean Learning Center offers students one-on-one tutoring in a safe, warm classroom environment, from tutors with their bachelor’s degrees in education. The center also follows a special reading curriculum for those with dyslexia or others who experience difficulty in reading. Tutoring is by appointment, weekdays after school, and fees apply.
Now in its 38th year, Berean Baptist School continues to produce students who are mentally alert, emotionally stable, morally straight, physically active and spiritually in tune with God.
Berean Baptist At a Glance
Doug Swanson, Administrator • Mark Swanson, Pastor
Established: 1977
Grades: PreK through 12
Enrollment: 246
Student/Teacher Ratio: 14:1
Church Affiliation: Berean Baptist (open to all faiths)
Tuition: $3,400 per year K5-12
Tuition Assistance: N/A
Dress Code: Casual
School Mascot: Kingsmen
Athletics: Illinois Association of Christian Schools
Sports: Boys: Baseball, Basketball, Soccer; Girls: Basketball, Volleyball