NWQ's Annual Private School Guide – 2013 Edition

Families have a wealth of options for their children’s education, and private schools stand as one such option. The Rockford area boasts many high-quality private schools that successfully combine college-preparatory academics and liberal arts. To help with your decisions, we’ve found a few of the best.

Christian Life Schools

5950 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 877-2600, clschools.org

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.
Christian Life has a strong history of excellent curriculum, caring faculty, competitive sports and exceptional learning environments, Christ-centered faith and students that continually test well beyond their grade levels.
The diversified student body comes from more than 140 different churches and 36 different denominations. At Christian Life Schools, 100 percent of graduates attend college.
The school is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International, North Central Accreditation and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation, and is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The Christian Life campus accommodates all grades at one location. Technology-integrated education programs featuring Apple iPads are offered for PreK-12th grades. Thousands of square feet of academic space include six technology labs, computers and iPads in each classroom and an Apple Computer Graphics art lab. There are two gymnasiums, a weight room, and labs for life science, physics, chemistry and language. Of the faculty, 20 percent have master’s degrees and an average of 14 years’ experience.
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 elementary, middle and high schools each put on a spring musical. 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.

Rockford Lutheran Schools

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

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 AP testing as well as college credit courses on campus, and 97 percent of graduates go on to post-secondary institutions. In 2012, Rockford Lutheran graduates averaged well above both state and national averages on their ACTs, and 13 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 2012 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 Christian Schools

Primary/Intermediate Campus: 220 Hemlock Lane; Jr/Sr High: 1401 Bell School Road, Rockford, (815) 399-3465, rockfordchristian.org

Rockford Christian Schools provide a Christ-centered, college-preparatory education for students prekindergarten (age 3) through grade 12. As the largest independent, non-denominational Christian school in the region, its student body represents nearly 130 area churches and 23 denominations.
It is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International, the North Central Association and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation, and 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 that 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: primary and intermediate, 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, 15 Advanced Placement courses, dual-credit college courses, and many academic and extracurricular clubs and organizations. The school recently added Mandarin Chinese to its foreign language program.
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, lighted football stadium and soccer field, eight-lane all-weather track, 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 and 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.

Boylan Catholic High School

4000 St. Francis Dr., Rockford, (815) 877-0531, boylan.org

Boylan Catholic High School is a comprehensive, co-educational high school in the diocese of Rockford, named in honor of the Most Reverend John J. Boylan, third Bishop of Rockford.
Boylan’s curriculum provides individualized programs based on each student’s abilities. Three challenge levels – honors, academic and general – ensure that every student is properly placed academically.
Advanced Placement (AP) and fifth-year courses are available. For 2012-2013, 17 AP courses are offered. Of 369 tests covering 14 subject areas taken by Boylan students in 2012, 89 percent qualified for AP or college credit. ACT scores for Boylan students in Spring 2012 averaged 23.6, higher than both the state and national averages. The Boylan Class of 2012 was awarded more than $13.1 million in college scholarships. Ninety-four percent have gone on to post-secondary education.
Boylan is accredited by North Central Association and recognized by the Illinois State Office of Education. Of its faculty, 67 percent hold master’s degrees or above; two members are Golden Apple recipients. Boylan’s tradition of excellence includes being the first and only high school in northwestern Illinois to receive three U.S. Department of Education Exemplary School Awards.
Support services are provided to Boylan students through the Natural Helpers, Boylan Wellness Program, Red Ribbon Program, the Guidance and Counseling Department and the Academic Support Center.
In addition to traditional classrooms, the main building houses a variety of special-use facilities.
Technology needs are met by three PC labs, a Mac lab, a CAD lab and a portable iPad lab. There is also a foods lab, a clothing lab and a chapel. The Arts and Science Complex contains eight science labs, two art studios with kilns, vocal and instrumental music rooms, a 768-seat auditorium, a 175-seat lecture hall and two gymnasiums. The campus also features a 5,400-seat stadium with a track, baseball diamonds, practice fields, indoor tennis courts and a swim complex.
Boylan offers 22 interscholastic junior varsity and varsity sports, and 28 extracurricular activities that include foreign language, scholastic and service clubs, theater/music and special interest groups.
Community service is also a tradition at Boylan. All students complete a service requirement before graduating. Students assist others through the Christmas food basket drive, the Haitian Project and a multitude of community-based service agencies. They also provide educational opportunities for their peers by participating in the annual Speed McCoy Scholarship fundraiser.
In a community of care, vigilance and challenge, Boylan students discover what it means to be women and men of faith, honor and integrity. They are inspired to become their best and truest selves – persons of intellect, vigor, compassion and vision.

Spectrum Progressive School

2909 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 877-1600, spectrumschool.org

Spectrum Progressive School offers an arts-integrated curriculum emphasizing active, experiential learning for grades PreK through 12. It is a member of the Progressive School Association and recognized by the State of Illinois Board of Education. The majority of its instructors hold master’s degrees.
The campus provides many PC and Mac computers, e-readers and other devices, and students bring in laptops, Kindles, Chromebooks, smartphones and other personal types of technology that aid in learning. Spectrum has two art studios, one of which includes a kiln; two rec rooms, which are utilized for PE, movement and drama; and a large playground equipped with scooters, tricycles and equipment for all ages.
A Spanish language program begins at age 3, and students choose between Spanish and Japanese in the upper elementary through high school levels. They participate in interest groups three times per year, and many take part in outside activities, such as theater, volleyball, basketball, hockey, swimming, chess club and dance.
The Spectrum philosophy focuses on each child’s individual learning style, by utilizing a variety of alternative and forward-thinking educational methods. Its teachers nurture each child’s potential using a personalized approach to learning.
“We have a wide variety of learners at Spectrum, and we choose to ask the question ‘How are you smart?’ versus ‘How smart are you?’” says Christine Klekamp, director.
Spectrum School involves each of its students in a personalized, action-oriented curriculum throughout all development levels. The multiple-intelligence approach encourages children to learn from one another and collaborate within multi-age groupings; to initiate self-learning based on individual interests and abilities; to discover, create and invent through interactive, participatory learning; and to develop self-confidence and effective communication within a broad range of social experiences.
Its integrated curriculum facilitates learning by planning interdisciplinary lessons and activities across many subject areas. Students studying African Folk Tales may put on skits, create masks for the characters, hear an authentic storyteller, learn the geography of Africa, examine African economy, government and education, and raise funds for digging wells in New Guinea, for example.
Parents are updated several times during the year on their child’s progress, through conferences, work samples, video clips and narrative assessments, rather than a traditional grading system. “If you tell a student what he or she has to do to get an A, you’ve set limits to learning,” says Klekamp. “Take away those limits, and you can’t believe what children can do.”
Also, parents are eagerly encouraged to attend observation days, educational programs and other school events.
Although progressive, Spectrum is not a permissive education. “We set high expectations and standards for our students,” Klekamp says. “We’re not interested in an accumulation of facts, but in learning for understanding and application.”
The Spectrum School philosophy maximizes each student’s strengths and supports each individual’s unique way of learning, with the goal of developing independent, critical thinkers and collaborative, lifelong learners.

Allegro Academy

6413 Forest Hills Road, Rockford, (815) 877-1489, allegroacademy.org

The Allegro Academy, a non-denominational Christian elementary and middle school and childcare center, has provided educational service to the Rockford area for more than 30 years. By setting high expectations, yet allowing students to progress according to ability rather than age, it creates young scholars who are excited about learning.
Allegro Academy offers arts, music, theatre, athletics, accelerated/gifted programs, after-school programs, clubs and extracurricular activities.
“We’re small, which allows us to be versatile and stay on top of current trends and technology,” says JeanMarie McCormack, principal.
“We’ve implemented technological upgrades in both the buildings and curriculum,” says Dale McCormack, director of facilitites. “We’ve increased our fine arts offerings and added several dozen more laptops and computer-based resources, to reflect the changes in academics and social media.”
Other improvements include an updated science/art lab, computer-integrated classrooms and SMART Board technology.
“What sets us apart is the way we’ve integrated fine arts instruction for all students,” says JeanMarie. “We offer movement and music, art, piano, tap and ballet starting at age 4. We have also received a grant this year from the American Harp Society. It will fund harp instruction classes for older children. We offer a classical education that is committed to teaching fine arts and facilitating academic mastery.”
Also on-site is the Allegro Learning Center, with six classrooms and three fenced play areas. It accepts children ages six weeks to five years, with an enrollment of about 90.
Phonics and reading are taught from early day care through eighth grade. “More than 50 percent of our students test two grade levels ahead of their age group,” says Dale.
Allegro Academy has added an online math curriculum for middle & upper grades. This curriculum allows students to progress at their own pace. With more than 2,000 modules, teachers can fine-tune and continuously assess each student’s math track.
“Teachers and students log on at the same time, allowing each student to work at his or her own pace, and teachers to track progress,” explains JeanMarie. “It’s much more individualized and engaging. We’ve got kids asking to skip recess so that they can work on math.”
A Christian perspective is part of the academic program, including daily prayer, Friday chapel and Bible curriculum taught four days of the week.
“We emphasize diversity on all levels,” says Dale. “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, respect for others, and a sense of his or her own personal relationship with God.”