The Rockford area boasts several high-quality 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.
Our children are both typical and unique. While they possess many qualities in common with all children, each is an individual. Each has his or her own tastes, thoughts and spirit. Each has particular needs and goals – capabilities and strengths that must be nurtured, foibles and weaknesses that must be overcome.
We know that understanding and responding to this complex medley of characteristics is a challenge, even in daily parenting. So how do we, as parents, determine which school offers an environment that best suits our child’s specific combination of qualities? What instructional methods will most benefit our child’s learning style? What makes a certain school better for one child than another?
Among the most obvious factors is curriculum – mathematics, science, reading and writing programs. Next, of course, is faculty and staff, as well as available resources – research facilities, laboratories and up-to-the-minute technology.
Just as important as what children learn is how they learn. Does the school’s philosophy allow for different learning styles and incentives? Will each child be allowed to develop particular interests and work at an appropriate level for his or her ability?
Next to consider is the social aspect. School is a place to learn not only facts and dates, but how to get along in the world. What sorts of extracurricular activities are offered? What opportunities will your child have to develop independence, self-confidence and collaboration?
Families have a wealth of options for their children’s education, in both the public and private sectors. All of these schools are committed to providing academic excellence, as well as a strong liberal arts education, to produce knowledgable, well-rounded students who are ready to step into the workplace of the 21st century and exact positive change in their communities.
Subjects such as philosophy, foreign language and current events encourage problem-solving and tolerance. Art, theater, music and dance stimulate self-expression and creativity. Exposure to classical literature, drama and music create an appreciation of the past. Opportunities for spiritual reflection and service to the community develop citizenship and character.
Education can help to build a strong foundation for your student’s emotional, social and mental development. It’s also a guaranteed pathway toward a happy and prosperous life. Students who are equipped with the requisite academic, interpersonal and technical skills to succeed beyond school are more likely to land the well-paying jobs of the future. New initiatives at our region’s schools are embracing this reality of the 21st century workforce by successfully preparing students for life beyond – whether that means college, a technical degree/certificate program or straight into the workforce.
Our children can live a prosperous life in the Rockford area, and it’s their quality education that will propel them to success.
Here, Northwest Quarterly profiles area schools to assist parents in making this all-important decision about their child’s education.
Rockford Lutheran School
3411 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, (815) 877-9551, rockfordlutheran.org
The educational landscape in the Stateline includes many options. Look at the signature programs at Rockford Lutheran School and learn why we are experiencing enrollment growth and consistent graduation rates in the upper 90 percent range during turbulent times.
In our hurry-up world there are multiple ways for high school students to achieve college credit in advance of their post-secondary enrollment. Rockford Lutheran’s commitment to partnerships provides our students with a unique option.
Concordia Nebraska certifies RLS teachers to become adjunct members of their University. Students enrolled in the selective classes taught by these adjuncts earn Concordia Nebraska credit. We have written agreements with more than 40 popular colleges and universities that guarantee the credits will be accepted.
Students can also sit for Advanced Placement Tests, earn CLEP credits and put online dual credit options in their high school schedule. Parents can recoup the cost of the high school experience with savings from the first year of college tuition.
Excellent Music Programs
Lutheran schools, across the country and from our formation, value music. Our PreK-Grade 12 program allows us to develop a student’s talent. Band and orchestra classes begin in grade 3. Students who transfer to Lutheran can enter the program at any time, including beginner classes. Songs of praise are taught and performed in every grade. Opportunities for performances are built into every year of the Lutheran experience. Plays, musicals and operettas give students a chance to grow in confidence.
RLS is the only K-12 system in the Stateline that has Project Lead The Way curriculum every year for every student. This nationally recognized program gives students hands-on experiences in problem solving. In a world that prizes winning above all else, PLTW encourages experimentation. It is important for engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists and educated adults to know how to grow and to learn by doing.
On the high school level, Lutheran competes in the Big Northern Conference and offers more teams than any of our sister schools. From bowling to our state championship cheer squad, we encourage participation and cultivate excellence. We offer summer programs to help develop skills. Our new fitness lab allows students to build strength. Top flight coaching, together with a strong core of parent volunteers, help kids gain a perspective on sports as a part of a well-rounded educational experience.
A Christian World View
A student’s spiritual growth is our key concern. As individuals called to “live in the world but not be of the world,” we care for the whole person. A strong Christian faith helps a student to give perspective to lifetime goals. We value family. We teach the joys of service. The PreK-12 nature of our schools allows us to meet kids where they are and nurture a relationship with their God that gives meaning to their lives. We tell stories to the little ones, and model Christian service to those headed into the world. Our school family welcomes those who have an active faith and those who are still searching for answers.
Keith Country Day School
1 Jacoby Place, Rockford, (815) 399-8823, keithschool.com
Keith Country Day School is the only nationally ranked, independent college-preparatory school in the region. It serves students from preschool (starting at age 3) through 12th grade. Set on a beautiful 15-acre campus, Keith is known for its small class sizes, safe environment, family-like atmosphere, state-of-the-art technology, excellence in academics, and highly recognized arts and athletics.
The school has consistently been named the number one private school in the region and has an A+ rating by Niche, an independent agency which combines rigorous analysis with authenticated reviews to highlight the best places to live and go to school.
But what you may not know about Keith School is its educational philosophy. At Keith School, strong academics are key, but not the only component of the well-rounded education offered to prepare students for success in college and life beyond their formal education. Here, students are taught how to learn versus what they need to learn to pass a test or earn a grade. They’re encouraged to explore and celebrate their unique abilities through a wide range of enrichment programs and opportunities – from individual and team sports to strong music and theater/arts programs to more than 35 leadership, academic and special interest clubs and teams.
It Starts in Preschool
Keith’s Lower School offers a highly personalized, differentiated, and accelerated academic program for preschool through 4th grade. Fun and learning should go hand-in-hand, so its lower school classrooms are designed to be welcoming, interactive and immersive.
In Keith’s Middle School (5th – 8th grade), core academic classes are taught at an honors level that defines its private, college-preparatory approach. Through an innovative and collegiate-style program, and rotating schedule of classes and course offerings, middle schoolers are given opportunities to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
High school represents the final stage of a program that develops a student’s confidence and skills in a range of disciplines. The focus of the high school years at Keith School is vigorous academics – taught at an honors or advanced placement level – along with an artistic, philanthropic, and athletic curriculum centered in a strong community that supports students in their self-discovery. The goal is to graduate resourceful young men and women who are prepared to find their places in the world.
A True College-Preparatory School
While many schools describe themselves as “college preparatory,” Keith Country Day School truly prepares students for college by having the most demanding graduation requirements of any school in the region, including more science, math, English, social studies, foreign language, speech, college counseling and community service.
The proof is in its results. Typically, more than 90 percent of Keith graduates are accepted into their first college choice, including Ivy League schools. Acceptance into top schools also comes with scholarships. Last year, Keith School’s 37 graduates netted $5 million in merit-based scholarships.
Immanuel Lutheran School
1225 E. Second St., Belvidere, (815) 547-5346, immanuelknights.org
Immanuel Lutheran School (ILS) is committed to providing a Christ-centered education to children Pre-K through 8th grade. Recognized by the State of Illinois and accredited through National Lutheran School Accreditation, ILS works with Immanuel Lutheran Church of Belvidere to make disciples of its students.
Immanuel’s tuition rate is one of the lowest in the area, while students’ test scores rank in the top tier of all area schools. The eighth-grade class of 2018 scored 87 percent above the national average in science and 96 percent above the national average in math.
Classrooms are equipped with SMART boards and wireless Internet access, while the school additionally has a 75-Chromebook computer lab, tablets for every student in grades 1-5, Chromebooks for middle school use, a science lab, two gymnasiums (one of which is high school-sized), a playground, a soccer field, an outdoor basketball court, a music/choir/band room and a motor lab activities center for PreK-K students.
Athletic programs in volleyball, soccer, basketball and track are available to students, as well as an abundance of clubs, such as prayer warriors, guitar club, book club and chess club. In addition, students can take advantage of many service opportunities, such as preparing programs for area health centers, collecting school supplies for students in Liberia and collecting gifts for the Rockford Rescue Mission.
Immanuel offers unique programs, activities and field trips to its students. For example, the Big Friend/Little Friend program pairs older students with younger students for monthly activities to help students learn responsibility and care more for each other. In addition, students can interact with the school’s “on staff” comfort dogs, Kye and Bekah, who greet the students on school days, make hospital visits and aid in disaster response situations. Finally, field trips to Springfield, Ill., the team building camp in Potosi, Mo., and other unique places help students to grow in their knowledge outside the classroom.
Immanuel Lutheran School offers one of the area’s best bargains with a combination of strong academics and reasonable tuition. Both Church and School work together to help parents bring up the next generation, and that generation will be prepared for tomorrow and eternity.
Spectrum Progressive School
4848 Turner St., Rockford, (815) 877-1600, spectrumschool.org
This past year marks the 51st year of Spectrum Progressive School. Although Spectrum’s name and location have changed numerous times over the years, the belief that learners need choice and authentic experiences remains at the core of what the school does. Its foundation of learner choice and self-reflection is shown through work time and project time at the younger levels and through genius hour and passion projects in the upper school. This process taps into students’ natural curiosity and involves inquiry, creating, innovating, evaluating and sharing. Spectrum Progressive allows students to be truly engaged and to take ownership of their learning. Each student is developing at their own pace based on their talents, challenges and interests. Spectrum Progressive is focused on educating the whole child academically, socially and emotionally. When you walk into a Spectrum Progressive classroom you will see students hard at work, but also having fun. Students learn to collaborate in groups, solve problems, be part of a community and know themselves.
Spectrum Progressive School prepares students for the next generation of work – one that requires critical and creative thinking. Visit Spectrum’s new campus, surrounded by 10.5 beautiful acres of natural green space, today. Spectrum Progressive enrolls children 3-14 years of age. Call (815) 877-1600 for a tour or email Heather at [email protected].
School District of Beloit
1633 Keeler Ave., Beloit, (608) 361-4000, sdb.k12.wi.us
Forty “Wisconsin Promise Schools of Recognition” awards, including three in the 2017-18 school year, help separate the School District of Beloit from others in the area.
Established in 1851, the district has a long and proud history of serving residents in the city of Beloit.
The district is driven by its mission: “Committed to excellence and strengthened and enriched by diversity, our mission is to prepare each student to compete, contribute and thrive as an admirable citizen in a rapidly changing world by engaging students in a wide variety of high-quality, relevant programs in partnership with families, schools and the stateline community.”
The School District of Beloit educates and nurtures close to 7,000 students in six elementary schools, four fourth through eighth-grade intermediate schools, one alternative middle/high school, one comprehensive high school, one charter high school and a virtual school. Memorial High School has numerous AP classes and a strong Career & Technical Education program.
The School District of Beloit is one of the most diverse public school districts in the state with 36 percent of the enrollment being white and 44 percent made up of minority students. That compares to state averages of 70 percent white students and 30 percent minority
The district also offers a dual-language immersion (DLI) program in English and Spanish and offers numerous extra co-curricular activities like athletics, fine arts and clubs. The district also participates in the Big Eight athletic conference.
Thanks to everything the school district offers its students, 49.5 percent of kids go on to attend college.
Concordia Lutheran School
7424 N. Second St., Machesney Park, (815) 633-6450, clsmp.org
Concordia Lutheran School is a community of faith where we believe each child is a unique creation of God, blessed with a special set of talents and gifts.
Each child deserves to approach life with a sense of self-worth and respect for others while developing a sense of one’s own personal relationship with God. We feel that each child deserves the opportunity to develop his or her God-given potential to the fullest.
Our mission is to guide each child toward the fulfillment of this potential, in all areas of the child’s life: spiritual, intellectual, social, psychological and physical. We hope to enrich and deepen each student’s faith by promoting good self-esteem, self-discipline, educational skills and Christian knowledge and values.
At Concordia Lutheran, we hope to create an atmosphere for learning that combines structure and creativity while fostering an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Toward this end, we strive to maintain a joyous, happy environment, which promotes love, understanding and acceptance of self and others.
We believe that children are precious gifts from God, and as such, we, in partnership with their parents, strive to nurture students to achieve academic excellence, spiritual growth, good citizenship, leadership and service to the community that both honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.
Concordia Lutheran School is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod –Northern Illinois District.
We feature small class sizes, individualized educational programs, team orientated and adaptable staff members and a strong parent teacher organization with involvement in the education process and facility management.
There are plenty of features available, including a fully functioning resource center, which consists of a library and computer lab, gym, soccer field, playground and designated art and science rooms.
Our students have access to computers in their classrooms beginning in preschool. From kindergarten through fifth-grade, students have access to SMART boards, smart tables and tablets.
Weekly learning specials for preschool students include Spanish, music and library. Kindergarten through fifth-grade specials include art, PE, music, Spanish, library time and computer privileges.
Additional band and orchestra programs are offered.
Students remain busy outside the classroom at Concordia thanks to before and after-school programs from preschool to fifth-grade students. Sports available include running club and track.
In cooperation with Rockford Lutheran Academy we also offer soccer and basketball. We also offer several after-school clubs such as S.O.C. (Seeds of Compassion), a service based club where students learn how serving others benefits not only our community but helps them grow.
Craft club, Lego club, woodworking club and yearbook club are only a few of the clubs available to our students. Concordia also hosts a monthly Literacy Night for preschool and kindergarten families.
We work with families to make a private education affordable.
After completion of Concordia Lutheran School, students matriculate to Rockford Lutheran Junior High School.
Alpine Academy of Rockford
A5001 Forest View Ave., Rockford, (815) 227-8894, alpineacademyofrockford.com
Tucked in a quiet neighborhood in Southeast Rockford, Alpine Academy provides a quality education in a nurturing, family-focused Christian school. Its mission is to enrich and deepen students’ academic knowledge and spiritual faith. Teachers strive to create an environment where students grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Alpine Academy is accredited, is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA), and is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. Its strong curriculum in reading, mathematics, science, language arts, social studies and religion provides students with a solid academic foundation. Students receive Spanish, computer and music instruction beginning in pre-school and continuing through sixth grade. An in-house speech pathologist provides additional special-needs support. Three programs spotlighting students’ talents and skills are presented in the gym during the year. Art, band and orchestra instruction begin in third grade. Regular physical education class is provided to all students, with upper grade students participating in unique activities such as cross-country skiing, roller skating, bowling and canoeing at Pierce Lake. Numerous field trips provide students with off-campus learning experiences. Each class takes part in monthly community service projects, and the Academy is active in many charitable programs and organizations.
Alpine Academy has a fenced athletic area with a baseball field and a soccer field. It also has a protected and completely 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.
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 who are well prepared for their journey toward a successful adulthood.
Berean Baptist Christian School
5626 Safford Road, Rockford (815) 962-4841, bereanschool.com
Berean Baptist School continues to produce students who are mentally alert, emotionally stable, morally straight, physically active and spiritually in tune with God. Dr. Melvin Swanson was the Senior Pastor of the Berean Baptist Church in 1977 when he founded Berean Baptist Christian School (BBCS). The school 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 focuses on chapel/Bible study, music and fine arts, foreign language, art and physical education. Additional school features include learning centers, a library and computer access. In middle school, students learn to be more responsible for their time, work and belongings. They have an hourly change of location to prepare for high school.
Each student is required to carry a minimum core class schedule of English, literature, history, math, science, physical education and Bible studies. Students participate in choir, 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 classroom environment. 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.
Rockford Christian Schools
Elementary Campus: 220 Hemlock Lane; Jr/Sr High: 1401 Bell School Road, Rockford, (815) 399-3465, rockfordchristian.org
Rockford Christian Schools is a private, non-denominational Christian school dedicated to high standards and academic excellence and spiritual growth for students in Pre-K through 12th grade.
Rockford Christian is expanding its facilities and programming for the 2018-19 school year. The plans include an indoor fitness and recreation facility to support the health, fitness and social needs of students, a 16,000-square-foot center for the arts to further the school’s nationally recognized fine arts program with additional classroom space, an 11,000-square-foot theater for school and community events and a residence hall for on-campus housing for students. A residence hall for on-campus housing for students is currently under construction with a completion date scheduled for early this summer.
It’s 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, while 37 percent hold advanced degrees.
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, virtually 100 percent attend college.
Rockford Christian curriculum includes a college preparatory program, gifted enrichment and honors programs, 19 advanced placement courses, and many academic and extracurricular 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 students’ choice, as well as maximum scholarship offers,” says Randy Taylor, superintendent. “As a result of this focus on college preparedness, the 123 members of the class of 2017 received more than $9 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.
Rockford Christian teaches that biblical truths guide behavior and decision-making. Students take part in daily Bible classes, prayer time and 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.
Rock Valley College
3301 N. Mulford Road • Rockford • rockvalleycollege.edu
“No matter your destination, your journey begins here.”
That is much more than a catchy tagline to the faculty and staff at Rock Valley College. They truly believe in the outcomes behind those words.
As this community’s college, it’s RVC’s mission to connect all citizens with opportunities that lead to success. For some that means earning an associate’s degree and transferring to a four-year college or university. For others, it means earning the credentials, skills and training needed to enter a career pathway right away.
RVC’s dedicated faculty members have master’s degrees, doctorates and real-life experience, and students will access that knowledge through hands-on instruction in small classrooms. The average class size at RVC is 23 students. That means students will learn in an environment that will help them become more engaged with classmates and instructors.
The cost of attending RVC is just $115 per credit hour, significantly less than what the cost would be at most private colleges or state universities. In fact, one year at Rock Valley College will cost a student approximately $3,800, compared to $12,000 at a public four-year school, $15,000 at a private for-profit institution, or nearly $30,000 for one year at a private four-year university. There are also many financial aid opportunities to help students pay for college. More than 60 percent of RVC students receive some financial assistance, and the RVC Foundation awarded over $250,000 in scholarships last year alone.
Rock Valley College is flexible to its students’ needs and can accommodate busy schedules with a variety of daytime, evening and weekend classes. The college’s beautiful main campus is located on the northeast side of Rockford, the Stenstrom Center for Career Education is located in south Rockford, and RVC Downtown is located in the Rockford Register Star building in the heart of downtown Rockford. Many classes are also available online.
With programs like Aviation Maintenance Technology and NIU Engineering at RVC, the college is poised to help lead a transformation in workforce development in the region. Additionally, RVC’s state-of-the-art 110,000 square foot Health Sciences Center has united all of the college’s allied health programs under one roof, allowing for future program expansion and the establishment of new initiatives in health care education.
At Rock Valley College, staff and faculty are there for students every step of the way. Students will be prepared for the initial challenges of college through Getting Started sessions, and required student development courses that assist with academic and career planning.
Skilled advisors will work closely with students to establish educational goals and develop a path for success. And if students need help with coursework, they can get the free peer tutoring they need to be a success.
The journey begins at Rock Valley College. The destination is up to you.