NWQ’s 2023 Guide to Education

Finding the right fit for your education is an important step in life. These local institutions have the experience and approach to help shape minds and change lives.

Perhaps one of the most important decisions in life is where to pursue an education. Whether you’re considering options for your child or yourself, it takes time and careful consideration to find the best fit. Questions about curriculum, social environment and educational philosophies make a tremendous impact on the overall experience one receives at a school. And, those factors can have an outsized impact on the student’s success outside the classroom and well beyond graduation. The classroom, of course, is only the starting point. Where you go in life, what you earn and how you attain success traces its roots to your education. To assist your family in making this most important choice, our guide to education profiles some of the top institutions available in our region.

Rockford Christian Schools

220 Hemlock Lane • 1401 N. Bell School Road • Rockford• (815) 391-8000 • rockfordchristian.org

Rockford Christian is a private, nondenominational Christian school dedicated to high standards of academic excellence and spiritual growth. Beginning as an independent kindergarten in 1961, Rockford Christian has experienced steady growth to become a comprehensive school welcoming more than 730 students from grades Pre-K3 through 12.

The mission of Rockford Christian is to challenge young people to know Christ as Lord, apply God’s truth in all areas of life, love others sacrificially, and achieve the highest level of knowledge and skill in order to serve God and others.

Rockford Christian is committed to providing an excellent student experience in a safe, loving environment. Faculty provide high-caliber academics that both support learners with academic needs and provide enrichment for those ready for an additional challenge. The school’s Diane Bertrand Science, Technology and Humanities Center is an epicenter for innovative learning. The 25,000-square-foot LEED-certified building houses technology labs, science labs, art studios and a distance learning auditorium.

Rockford Christian is uncompromising in its focus on the spiritual formation of students. Beginning with dedicated faculty who are the living curriculum of God and His Word, students grow in their God-given identity and purpose through Bible classes, chapel services, spiritual emphasis week and community outreach. Each activity is focused on the mission of creating disciples who impact the world for His Kingdom, beginning in Rockford. Students put their faith in action through community outreach and service opportunities such as the Matthew 25 Program, Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and National Honor Society.

Rockford Christian offers a wide variety of clubs and extracurricular activities to allow students to pursue areas of passion or interest. In addition to offerings such as yearbook, chapel team and chess club, the school has competitive STEM clubs (Robotics, Math Club and Science Olympiad) that have received state and national recognition. Athletics are also an important part of the Rockford Christian student experience. Beginning in kindergarten all the way through the varsity level, the school provides a full range of sports programs. Rockford Christian, as a member of the Illinois High School Athletic Association and Big Northern Conference, holds several regional, conference and state championships in sports like football, soccer, volleyball, golf, swimming, cross country, basketball, bowling, track and field, softball, baseball, tennis and bass fishing.

Rockford Christian also provides a distinguished Fine Arts program that strives to educate students in the visual and performing arts by providing a lifelong foundation for the understanding and appreciation of all arts. Students discover and learn to express their God-given talents in visual art, theater, and music (choral and instrumental). Like STEM and athletics, several Fine Arts programs have been recognized at community, state and national levels for overall excellence and innovation.

Each summer, Rockford Christian hosts Camp Vertical Extreme for children in the Rockford area. The camp employs teachers from around the community as well as college/university students who are passionate about teaching and working with youth in a safe and positive environment. This 10-week summer camp includes weekly field trips to places such as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Sand Park Pool, Volcano Falls and other fun destinations.

For over 60 years, Rockford Christian has remained committed to its vision to continually develop and maintain the present facilities, programs, and personnel to provide students in the greater Rockford area with a Christ-centered education and the opportunity to reach their God-given potential. As part of that vision, Rockford Christian seeks to be accessible to all families who wish to enroll their children in a Christ-centered environment. To support families in need, parents and donors generously fund both internal and state-funded tuition assistance programs to help with the cost of education. Join our family and be part of God’s story in Rockford and beyond.

• Established: 1961
• Grades: Pre-K3 through 12
• Enrollment: 736
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 12:1
• Tuition (per year): Pre-K Full Day, $7671; Grades K-4, $7671;
Grades 4-8, $8408-$9404; Grades 9-12, $9145
• Scholarships/Tuition Assistance: Yes
• Dress Code/Uniforms: Yes
• School Mascot: Royal Lions

Rockford Lutheran School

3411 N. Alpine Road • Rockford • (815) 877-9551 • rockfordlutheran.org

At Rockford Lutheran School, community matters and forming relationships is a high priority. That’s why we value community as part of our core values – sustaining a community culture where teachers, students, coaches and staff care about one another and accept and recognize their differences, all in a culture that understands the great value in the harmony in this diversity. We want every student to feel known, valued and loved by God and by others whether working in the classroom, the art studio, on the stage, on a court or on a field of play.

Rockford Lutheran draws students in the age 3 preschool program through grade 12 from the greater Rockford area and the surrounding region. Families bring different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds together. We blend a strong college preparatory curriculum with opportunities for co-curricular, fine arts, service and athletic activities to help every student mature and grow as a young Christian and future leader. We’re large enough to provide opportunities in sports, clubs and other activities for your child, yet small enough for each to find their own niche. As a result, we have high participation rates with over 70% of our students engaging in co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, with over half in more than one. Together with your church and family, we help every child grow in their faith, develop their unique God-given strengths and meet the challenge of new opportunities. Our tuition rates are amongst the lowest for Pre-K to 12 schools in our region, and we have a robust program of financial assistance, awarding over $1.4 million to our families each year.

At Rockford Lutheran, our core value of remaining firmly Christ-Centered permeates everything we do, going beyond the required religious courses and module students complete each year. We start each day in prayer and pray together at mealtimes and other occasions. We gather weekly for worship, engaging students as worship planners, leaders and musicians. We are proudly “pan-Lutheran” and work in partnership with both the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) church bodies and their affiliated school associations. The school is owned and operated by 25 area Lutheran churches with the same goal of making an outstanding education with a truly Christian perspective. And you don’t have to be Lutheran to join our community. While founded on the philosophy and traditions of Lutheran education, Rockford Lutheran offers a solidly Christian educational experience.

Rockford Lutheran graduates have enrolled in many types of colleges and universities from our region and across the country, including highly selective and prestigious schools like Yale, Cornell, Northwestern University and Wheaton College, plus a host of international universities. Our graduates are awarded almost $10 million in scholarships each year. Our 1+3 Dual Credit program is a hallmark of the high school program, engaging over half of our students who earn on average over 15 college credit hours from partner accredited universities. We are also able to offer over 30 Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors classes so that our students are prepared for the rigors of college and are often awarded additional college credits for this work done in high school.

At Rockford Lutheran, students engage and serve as they are inspired because that is how we live our mission. Our students grow to know and understand that God made them with a purpose and they find great joy in discovering opportunities to make a difference. By the time they are in the junior and senior years of high school our students are actively engaged in organizing and leading service teams to impact our local communities. This is how tomorrow’s leaders are formed here at Rockford Lutheran.

Your child’s school is an investment for life. If the experience, growth and preparation described here are what you want your child to receive, discover what it means to be a Crusader today.

• Established: 1964
• Grades: Pre-K (ages 3-4) through 12
• Enrollment: 750
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 15:1
• Church Affiliation: Pan-Lutheran (open to all faiths)
• Tuition: Ranging from $7,100/year for full-time Pre-K to $8,500/year for High School. Part-time rates available
• Tuition Assistance: Merit-based scholarships and interest area scholarships beginning in sixth grade; over $1.1 million in need-based awards given annually; Empower Illinois program scholarships available, plus other grant programs
• Dress Code: Yes
• School Mascot: Crusader
• Sr. High School Athletics: Big Northern Conference
• Sports: Co-ed: Bass Fishing, Cheerleading. Boys & Girls: Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Wrestling. Boys: Baseball, Football. Girls: Powder Puff Football, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy

3445 Elmwood Road • Rockford • (815) 399-3021 • olsha.org

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy is an independent, Pre-K through 12th grade preparatory high school that passes on Catholic and Western heritage through to classical liberal arts.

The academy challenges its students to pursue excellence in academics and perfection in holiness. The school’s objectives are to impart a Catholic philosophy, to serve students in the primary and secondary levels of education and to form model American citizens. Students learn to direct all their actions toward the honor and glory of God.

In 2006, the Acton Institute named Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation. In 2009, the academy earned the Salvatori Award for Teaching Excellence from Hillsdale College. The academy is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education and the IHSA, and it is accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools by AdvancED, and by the NCAA.

High school courses at the academy concentrate on theology, history, literature, science, math and Latin, in addition to physical education and choir requirements. Most courses are taught at the honors or advanced level and advanced courses for college credit available. The courses are designed to form students into future leaders and saints, prepare them for academic success in college, and most importantly, lead them to a knowledge and love of God. Students read the same works that formed the saints and our Founding Fathers.

“Our motto, ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Holiness’ is the focus of our mission, says, Paul Dull, Executive Director. “We emphasize a ‘Cultura Vitae’ – culture of life, that emphasizes human flourishing, the right use of freedom and that true happiness can be found only in a life of virtue in the service of God and neighbor.”

Tuition at the academy ranges from $4,000-$6,000, with discounts offered for siblings. Financial aid is available based on economic need.

Students of all grade levels at the academy can become involved in a variety of sports and clubs, from volleyball, basketball, football, and soccer to chess club and rosary making. In addition, the school annually organizes a Christmas pageant and a golf outing.

As its motto says, the Academy challenges students to rebuild the culture through truth, faith and service.

• Established: 2000
• Grades: Pre-K through 12
• Enrollment: 106
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 10:1
• Church Affiliation: Catholic
• Tuition: PreK-8, $4,990; 9-12, $5,990
• Dress Code: Uniforms
• School Mascot: Guardians
•Average Postgraduate/Experience Level: College (post-secondary)
• Athletic Conference: Northeastern Athletic Conference

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-K3 through eighth grade. The faculty and staff at Immanuel are dedicated to helping children reach their physical, spiritual, social, academic and emotional potential in a Christ-centered environment. ILS has received State of Illinois Non-Public School Recognition and is accredited through the National Lutheran School Accreditation process. The school is a ministry of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere.

Immanuel’s tuition rate is one of the lowest in the area, while students’ test scores rank in the top tier of area schools. Immanuel’s students consistently score well above the national average on standardized tests.

Classrooms are equipped with SMART Boards and Chromebooks. Additionally, ILS has a science lab, two gymnasiums (one of which is high-school sized), a soccer field, outdoor basketball court, music room and native prairie area. Students take several special classes, like art, music, PE, computers and Spanish.

Athletic programs in volleyball, cross country, soccer, basketball and track are available to students, as well as an abundance of clubs. The school offers students the opportunity to participate in Cooking Club, Prairie Pals, Computer Club, Sewing Club, Knights Honor Society, Singing Knights Choir, piano lessons and band.

In addition, students participate in many faith-based activities. All grade levels attend a weekly chapel service; each school day starts with a religion class; and students participate in many service projects. Pastors and other ministry staff are present throughout the school day.

Immanuel offers unique programs and field trips, too. The Big Friend/Little Friend program pairs older students with younger students for monthly activities.

Field trips to Springfield, Ill., the Challenger Center in Woodstock, Ill., and Walcamp in Kingston, Ill., help students to grow in their knowledge outside of the classroom.

Immanuel offers a combination of strong academics with high expectations and reasonable tuition. The students leave the school well-prepared for high school.

We’d love for your children to join our school, says Principal Trisha Engel, who encourages families to contact her for admissions and enrollment information.

Trisha Engel, Principal

• Established: 1953
• Grades: Pre-K3 through 8
• Enrollment: 308
• Church Affiliation: Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
• Student/Teacher Ratio: From 16:1 to 24:1
• Tuition: $3,500
• Tuition Assistance: Yes
• Dress Code: Uniforms K-8
• School Mascot: Knights
• Athletics: Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball, Track, Cheerleading

Alpine Academy

5001 Forest View Ave. • 811 Locust St. • Rockford • (815) 227-8894 • alpineacademyofrockford.com

Serving families in west and southeast Rockford, Alpine Academy provides quality education in a nurturing, family-focused Christian environment. Its mission is to enrich and deepen students’ academic knowledge and spiritual faith. Teachers strive to create a learning space where students grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Alpine Academy’s newest school, the Resurrection Campus, was created in partnership with Resurrection Lutheran Church. Located at 811 Locust St., Resurrection Campus begins a new chapter in the rich tradition of Lutheran education in Rockford, which began on this site over a century ago. Resurrection Campus is currently a preschool, with future plans to grow as a campus and learning center.

Alpine Academy 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. Alpine Academy has begun integrating the use of Google Chromebooks into its classrooms. Students receive computer and music instruction beginning in preschool and continuing through fifth grade. An in-house speech pathologist provides additional special-needs support.

Alpine Academy is a ministry in partnership with Alpine Lutheran Church. Alpine Academy and the congregation of Alpine Lutheran Church together are one Alpine Family. The school has chapel service with students weekly to encourage their faith journey.

Three programs spotlighting students’ talents and skills are presented in the gym during the year. Art, band and orchestra instruction begin in third grade. Art education begins in Kindergarten while band and orchestra programs 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 and bowling. 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 enclosed play area with slides, monkey bars and climbing areas for all grades. Students compete scholastically in a variety of sports and scholastic events.

Before and After Care programs are available for working parents so that students can interact through play in the gym or playground and work on art projects while parents complete their work day.

Alpine Academy now has a mobile application to help parents stay organized through calendars, newsletters and online forms.

Annual events include the Easter Egg Hunt, Trunk or Treat and Alpine Academy Carnival, which are excellent opportunities to interact with the Alpine Family.

Students also participate in various programs each year, including the veterans program, Christmas program and Easter program. Students are also involved in Alpine Lutheran Church services periodically during the school year.

Alpine Academy offers a Summer Day Camp called Thunder Land that provides a fun, safe place for students during the summer months. Registration for this year’s Summer Day Camp begins June 6.
Alpine Academy participates in the Invest in Kids Act, along with Empower Illinois. These programs allow Alpine Academy to offer 50%, 75% and 100% scholarships for eligible students and have enabled Alpine Academy to provide an average of 20 scholarships per year for the past five years.

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, with a dedication to lifelong learning and who are well prepared for their journey toward a successful adulthood.

• Established: 1997
• Grades: Pre-K through 5
• Enrollment: 110
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 12:1
• Church Affiliation: Alpine Lutheran Church
• Tuition (per year): Pre-K Full Day, $5,550; Grades K-6, $5,775
• Scholarships/Tuition Assistance: Yes
• Dress Code/Uniforms: Yes
• School Mascot: Purple Thunder

Concordia Lutheran School

7424 N. Second St. • Machesney Park, Ill. • (815) 633-6450 • ConcordiaMP.com

If half the battle is showing up, half the battle of showing up is knowing you are going to the right place. There is a good chance that Concordia Lutheran School is a place where your child will love to show up.

Not every school has a culture where the kids talk about the fun they have in their classrooms. Concordia truly has a family feel. A premium is placed on ensuring students see learning as an exciting experience of wonder and discovery. The small classrooms are a launching pad for children who travel these halls from Pre-K through fifth grade.

Students enjoy art, music and Spanish in all grades. Instruments enter the experience in third grade, and songs fill the air in chapel and concerts. Concordia is a place where kids show up to try new things and to be sure they will find acceptance in an environment that values each child as His child.

Students represent a wonderful segment of the community. They bring different talents, skills and expectations. We offer small classrooms where kids receive personal attention. A variety of teaching styles are employed because students learn differently. We offer support services for students in need of a little special attention. A spacious gym and an expansive riverside campus provide ample space for exercise and exploration. A speech therapist visits the school one day each week to work with students who require special services.

The families who send their children to Concordia have a range of top priorities in their lives. Some are attracted to before- and after-school care programs that allow parents to work knowing their child is safe and in a stimulating setting. The location is very convenient. This Christian education, subsidized by the Concordia Lutheran Church congregation, is affordable. We have tuition assistance and participate in the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program. Many parents are looking for a place where they can be an active part of planning for the family events that enrich our education. An active group of parents serves at evening events that bring families together.

Quality academics are essential to any top-notch school program. At Concordia, qualified teachers are not confined by a Common Core curriculum. We use the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) Test to monitor growth and to help diagnose any weaknesses in a program or performance.

Personal learning goals help parents to get an important return on the investment they make in their child’s education. Parent-teacher conferences become friendly gatherings where a child’s progress is the single focus.

Words don’t do justice to the “feel” of a school that values a child’s spiritual needs above all else. In how many schools can kids gather around God’s word at weekly chapel sessions and gain peace from knowing that they are His child? Concordia Lutheran School is such a place.

Steve Bauer, Principal
Alex Marque, Pastor

• Established: 1962
• Grades: Pre-K through 5
• Enrollment: 85
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 12:1
• Church Affiliation: Lutheran, but open to all faiths
• Tuition: Pre-K, $2,400-$5,500; K-5, $6,600
• Tuition Assistance: Yes. Available to families of all sizes.
• Dress Code: Yes

Tri-County Christian School

2900 W. Loras Dr. • Freeport • (815) 233-1876 • tricountychristian.org

The mission of Tri-County Christian School (TCCS) is to provide Christian families with Christ-centered educational experiences that emphasize the development of Christian character, educational excellence, and preparation for a lifetime of service to both God and man.

TCCS is Freeport’s only independent and interdenominational Christian school. This means that we are a school that isn’t governed by a specific denomination (or church), but by a parent association with an elected board of directors. TCCS is also an active member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) which includes Spelling, Speech and Math competitions with other ACSI schools in the Chicago area.

Computer usage and technology are also present within our everyday lessons as our classrooms are equipped with SMART boards and Google Chromebooks issued to students in grades 2-8. This year our fourth grade students along with the help of the local Career Tec Computer Information Systems Class had the opportunity to build their own robots. Other learning specials include physical education, music, daily Bible lessons and a dynamic Thursday morning chapel. A highly effective, in-house Title 1 program and piano lessons are also offered to students.

Other options include our before- and after-school latchkey program, a hot lunch plan catered by local restaurant Junior’s Place, our middle and junior high retreats, and a new Summer Enrichment Program for children ages 3-11. Basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross country and golf are also offered in cooperation with other local private schools.

Visit our next Open House on Feb. 7, 2023. For more information, please go to tricountychristian.org.

Rock Valley College

3301 N. Mulford Road • Rockford • (815) 921-4250 • rockvalleycollege.edu

For almost 60 years, Rock Valley College (RVC) has provided high-quality education and lifelong learning for northern Illinois residents. From Whiz Kids for area youth to the Center for Learning in Retirement, there’s something for everyone at Rock Valley College, regardless of your age or goals.

RVC’s career and technical programs successfully use a flexible, hybrid model that incorporates a blend of online learning and in-person labs and classes. As a commitment to career and technical education, RVC opened a new facility in January: the Advanced Technology Center located in Belvidere. The 70,000-square-foot building provides a state-of-the-art facility for RVC students to train in areas such as welding, mechatronics, CNC machining and forklift operation.

“We are excited to expand and strengthen our career and technical education programming at Rock Valley College,” says President Dr. Howard J. Spearman. “One of the tenets upon which our college was founded was occupational education. By embracing our founding principles, we can meet the training and development needs of the workforce pipeline to address critical shortages in our region.”

Now more than ever, students are demanding skilled training that leads to hot jobs in health care, manufacturing, technology, education and more. RVC is here to answer the call. Whether you are just starting your career or you are a career changer, RVC has something to offer for every point on your journey.

The cost of attending RVC is significantly less than most private colleges or state universities. In fact, students can complete a two-year degree at RVC for under $10,000, compared to $25,000 at a public four-year school, $30,000 at a private for-profit institution, or $58,000 for two years at a private four-year university. There are also many financial aid opportunities to help students pay for college. About 60% of RVC students receive some financial assistance, and the RVC Foundation awarded nearly $300,000 in scholarships last year alone.

RVC encourages anyone in the region thinking about career training or higher education to explore your options in your home town. Stay close to home, save significant money and stay on track to complete by applying at rockvalleycollege.edu/apply. No matter your destination, your journey continues at Rock Valley College in Rockford.

• Enrollment: 5,224 (credit students)
• Average Student Age: 24
• Racial/Ethnic Minority Enrollment: 39%
• Programs/Degrees: 3 transfer degrees and over 80 career and technical education degrees or certificates
• On-Campus Housing: No
• Evening/Weekend/Online Classes: Yes

Areas of Strength
• Online learning anywhere in the world for the cost of in-district tuition
• Broadly transferable credits;
• 60% of students receive financial aid;
• Over a 40-year career, an RVC degree graduate can expect to earn $680,000 more than someone not attending community college.

Phone: (815) 921-4250
Email: [email protected]
Web: rockvalleycollege.edu